Hello, sports fans! My name is Christen, owner of Best Money Mom, and I am definitely what they call a “soccer mom”. I’ve been playing the sport since I was four years old, and kept lacing up my cleats each season until my early 20’s.
I now have four fantastic daughters of my own, who, once old enough, took up the beautiful game. Although I don’t play on a team anymore, I rotate coaching my daughters’ teams every summer.
Being a recreational soccer coach is a volunteer position. However, you can easily turn your love of the sport into a side hustle by becoming a referee.
I started officiating youth soccer games as a teenager and got back into it after becoming a mom. I’m at the soccer park at least 3 days a week with my kids anyways. Why not make a little extra money while watching them play?
Don’t worry, you don’t have to be Christine Sinclair (professional soccer player) to get involved in your local soccer club.
There is absolutely no soccer experience required to become a soccer referee. You’ll get the training you need and your skill level will progress along with the soccer season.
All you need to start is a love of the outdoors, to be in decent physical shape, and to get a “kick” out of spending time with kids!
Benefits of Being a Soccer Referee
If you love the sunshine and outdoors, being a soccer referee is a great way to get a healthy dose of both. In fact, there are many benefits to spending your time on a soccer field, even without being a member of a team.
If you’ve ever watched a soccer match in person or on television, you’ve probably noticed the guy or gal dressed in black or yellow running up and down the field. While the soccer players themselves each play a set position on the field, the officials are back and forth covering the entire match. That is a lot of running over a 50 + minute game.
2. Working with Kids
Whether or not you have kids, watching the little tykes play soccer is certainly amusing. They travel in clusters across the soccer field, like a swarm of honey bees chasing a flower. You can’t help but smile seeing them swing their little feet at the ball or run off the field to hug their parents when they get a goal.
3. Teaching Sportsmanship and Discipline
Like many sports, children don’t just benefit through the skills they develop. Good soccer players are great teammates and role models. As the referee, one of your main roles is to foster sportsmanship on the field. The referee sets the tone of the match and works to create a happy experience for kids by teaching them how to play fair and show respect for the other players.
4. Work Matches Based Upon Your Ability, Skill, and Comfort Level
Most kids’ soccer games are held weekday evenings before the sun goes down. There are normally games starting around 6 pm and another set at 7:15 pm. Some soccer leagues have the youngest players play on Saturday mornings so they aren’t staying up too late at night. Also, each age group will have one or more tournament days that will be held all day on a Saturday. So that makes a wide variety of hours when the match officials will be working.
5. Get Your Own Kid Involved
If you are the parent of a teenager, officiating soccer is something you can do together. I got my start when I was 14-years-old and your older child might be looking to make some extra cash, too.
Interested in blowing a whistle for your local league? I’ll show you how to become a soccer referee below.
Officiating Soccer Match Requirements
There are a few common requirements needed to become a soccer referee.
- You need to be available in the evenings and/or weekends when most of the matches are held. The hours are pretty flexible, making it a good part-time job for adults or students.
- You’ll need to have reliable transportation to the soccer fields and a referee uniform (more on this later).
- Referees are expected to arrive at the soccer field at least 15 minutes before a match.
- You will introduce yourself to both team’s coaches and have them sign the game sheet created by the soccer club.
- If you are officiating a game with other assistant referees (linesmen), the three of you will all sign the game sheet and discuss which linesman will work each side of the field.
- Before game time, you will conduct the coin toss and determine who gets the first kick-off of the ball to start the match.
- During the match, you are responsible for officiating the play and ensuring the players follow the rules and safety regulations set out by your local soccer association.
- Depending upon the age group you are officiating, you may keep score and record which players score goals during the game using the game sheet.
- After the match, it is your responsibility to deliver the game sheet to your soccer club.
How to Get Started Working as a Soccer Referee
To become a match official, you will need to take a referee training course that qualifies you to become an accredited match official for your province/state. There are two ways to sign-up for a locally held referee clinic or course.
1. Visit the website of your local soccer club. There you will find a link to whichever soccer organization holds training clinics for referees. Normally, your local club will arrange to hold a referee training clinic in the early spring for all aspiring match officials. As well, there will be a referee coordinator for your club who you can contact for details.
2. Check out the soccer association website that sets the rules and guidelines for soccer in your province/state. For me, this is Ontario Soccer. If you are American, U.S. Soccer offers referee training courses across the country. It will have a section dedicated to providing information for referees and referees in training. You will be able to search for a training clinic in your area.
What You Will Learn in a Referee Clinic
If you are just starting out as a ref, you’ll want to take an Entry Level Match Official course/clinic. This will prepare you to become an accredited match official for the Under-8 soccer games (7×7 players) all the way up to the senior ladies/men games (11×11 players).
Through the course you’ll also be trained on:
- Rules about proper equipment
- Provincial/state guidelines on safety
- Rules of the game
- Lightning safety/severe weather policy
- The roles of the centre referee and assistant referee (linesman)
Once you have successfully completed a Match Official training course, you will be automatically registered with the soccer association for the year.
You may need to re-register every year to keep officiating.
Then, reach out to your local soccer club and apply to referee through its website or with the local referee coordinator.
You are now ready to be assigned games!
In my area, there is no cost to take the Match Official training clinic. The club hosts one every spring and it’s always in need of referees, especially adults who can officiate the older kids’ games.
However, you’ll want to make sure the same goes for your local club.
With some clubs, you will need to purchase your own referee uniform from a sporting goods store. Expect to pay about $70 for shorts, shirt, socks, and whistle. You can wear your own sneakers or cleats.
How Much Money Can You Earn?
The amount of money you can make is dependent on the soccer league, how many games you referee, what age group you ref, and the level of soccer you are officiating.
The U.S. Youth Soccer organization can you give a detailed description of the different “grades” assigned to match officials.
If you want a look at how much referees make who officiate the higher level soccer leagues (rep youth soccer and semi-pro adult) have a look at York Region Soccer Association’s salary grid.
Let’s assume you want to start out officiating at the recreational level:
I did some research on what various recreational soccer leagues across North America are paying their officials. Here is an idea of what you can expect per game.
Average Soccer Referee Pay
|Age Group (years)||Referee||Assistant Referee|
|Under 6||$20 – $30||$0|
|Under 11/12||$35 – 40||$0 – $20|
|Under 13/14||$45||$30 – $35|
|Under 15/16||$55||$35 – $40|
|Under 17/18||$55 – $60||$35 – $40|
|18+||$60||$35 – $40|
The summer soccer season starts in May and ends in August. If you live in a warmer climate, there may be more than one session per year, allowing you to work for a longer stretch of time.
Many clubs also run an indoor soccer league during the winter months that requires referees, too.
To start off, let’s assume you are officiating for a recreational, youth, summer soccer league.
If you pick-up 3 games a week at an average of $40 per game, that’s $120 a week.
Multiply $120 by a 14 week soccer season to earn $1480.
If you work one or two tournaments on a Saturday, you can add approximately $240 more to your total.
That is more than $1700 for one season.
Of course, you can always officiate more games each week and try indoor or winter soccer sessions.
Should You Become a Soccer Ref?
There are many benefits to pulling up those black knee socks and getting out on a soccer field as a match official. Whether you are a born soccer-lover or a complete newbie, being a referee is a legitimate side-hustle for many of us.
In fact, there is a super-fit, 70-year-old referee in my local soccer club who keeps up on the field with the adult teams every season.
So, if you want some sunshine, sport, and social-time with kids, try getting on the field and let soccer score you some extra cash.