Become a Referee

Hey, you! Yeah you - are you ready to turn your love for the game into some serious cash? Introducing the Referee Program – your ticket to an exciting, flexible, and rewarding side gig that’ll have you rolling in the dough while you enjoy your favorite sport up close!

Picture this: you’re on the field, adrenaline pumping, making split-second decisions that can turn the tide of a match. Sounds cool, right? But wait, it gets better! For just a pocket-friendly $40 course fee (that’s like two nights of takeout), you’ll be fully trained and certified to step onto the field as a referee.

And we get it – university life can be tight on the wallet. But here’s the scoop: you can earn back that $40 in no time with just one match under your belt. Yup, you read that right – your investment pays off in your very first game! Plus, who needs a nine-to-five when you’ve got a flexible schedule that lets you choose when and where you work? It’s the perfect side hustle to juggle alongside your studies. With matches happening all around you, there’s no shortage of opportunities to make some dough. It’s not just a gig; it’s a chance to be a crucial part of the game you adore.


How do I become a Soccer Referee?

Becoming a referee is a simple process –

  1. Sign up for the digital course here.
  2. Take the online course and study the material
  3. Pass the online test
  4. Submit your credentials to a game assigner in your area (their contact info will be provided when you complete the course)
  5. Officiate your first game!

Online Course

Anyone 13 years or older can sign up to take the online referee course.  This course will teach you the basics of becoming a soccer referee and prepare you to officiate lower-level games such as youth recreation, club, middle school and junior varsity matches in your community. 

You can learn more about the course and sign up here.

Why become a Soccer Referee?

There are several benefits to being a referee.

  • Environment: Being a referee gives you the opportunity to work outside in a fun, active environment. 
  • Money: While pay differs by state, referees generally make between $20-$30 per match and referee approximately 2-4 matches per weekend.  This means you could pay off your course fee in your first weekend on the field!
  • Job opportunities:  There is a referee shortage in many states nationwide.  There is significant demand for qualified referees so during soccer season there are typically lots of opportunities for people with their referee license to referee matches nearby. 
  • Flexibility:  While the more games you referee, the more games you’ll get assigned, refereeing offers the flexibility for you to determine a schedule that fits with your lifestyle. Class conflicts? No problem. Have a heavy work load this semester? No worries. There are no minimums to the number of matches your required to referee. 
  • Future growth: Refereeing is a lifelong skill that you can develop and grow over time.  If you enjoy being a ref for lower-level games, you can continue your training and work your way up to higher profile (higher paying) matches.  While it takes a lot of work, commitment, and practice if you stick with it, you could even become a professional referee one day.    
  • Help kids:  Refereeing is an opportunity to positively impact kids in your community.  Kids often look up to referees as role models and fewer referees mean fewer opportunities for kids to get outside and play.  More referees create more opportunities for kids to get active and enjoy the game they love.

How much does it cost?

The course cost is $40.  Once you past the test you will be able to referee almost immediately.  Referees typically get paid between $20 and $30 per game and typically referee 2-4 matches per weekend which makes it easy to recoup your money spent on the course and uniform (see below).

Uniform & Equipment

To referee a match, you will be required to wear sanctioned uniform and have the right gear.  Each state is different but generally this includes:


  • Basic referee shirt (can find online as low as $12)
  • Black shorts
  • Black knee / soccer socks
  • Comfortable running shoes or cleats


  • Digital Watch
  • Whistle
  • Small notebook
  • Coin (for flipping)
  • Red / Yellow cards 

Official Supplier

Official Sports International
Official Referee Uniform Supplier

I've passed the course... now how do I get a gig?

Once you’ve completed your online course and passed the test you can submit your information and credentials. People in your area, known as “Assignors” will schedule you for a local match.

Learn more on how to submit your information and credentials to be assigned to a game here.

I like being a referee... what's next?

You will be required you to officiate two years of lower-level games to build your confidence and experience as a referee. After that second year is under your belt, you’ll be eligible to take additional training to mentor other referees through the Referee Coach Pathway. Continue to enjoy being a referee?  Referees who have taken U.S. Soccer referee courses and stuck with it over time have been able to make refereeing a life-long pursuit. Some have even made it into a career by joining U.S. Soccer staff or refereeing at major tournaments like World Cups or Olympics, keeping them in the game, long after their playing days are over!

I have more questions; how can I find out more?

Learn more and register for the first-time referee course here.