Many of us played on sports teams when we were growing up, and for many soccer was the sport of choice. As adults, it’s more difficult to find teams to play with, team and travel fees start to add up, and often we’re ready to hang up our cleats as competitive players.
However, there’s a way to participate in the sport you love and earn money at the same time: become a soccer referee.
Do you have what it takes to pick up the whistle? Read on to find out.
The United States Soccer Federation (U.S. Soccer) coordinates testing and training for all youth and professional soccer referees. Anyone over the age of 16 can become a soccer referee, even if you’ve never played the sport before. (Like this idea? Click to tweet it!)
You’ll fill out a simple application and pay a class fee. The fee depends on the state you want to referee in, as well as the level of soccer that you plan to officiate, and typically includes a starter kit with your equipment and uniform. You’ll also need to pass a background check to be eligible. To apply, contact your state referee association.
In the United States, all new referees enter at the grade 8 or 9 levels. Grade 8 allows you to referee all competitive youth matches, while grade 9 only lets you referee recreational games.
You have to take online training courses, attend an all-day class and pass a test at the end to qualify for your badge. To pass, you’ll need a minimum of 75%. You’ll also have to recertify each year to maintain your status.
As you gain experience as a referee, you can upgrade to more advanced levels. The highest level is grade 1, where you can officiate major international soccer games and the World Cup.
To upgrade, you will need to have refereed a certain number of games at your current level. You will also need to take another class and pass a test for the next level. In some cases, you may also need to pass fitness tests and assessments for the higher grades. Check with your state referee association as the requirements to upgrade differ from state to state.
While most soccer referees do it for the enjoyment of the game, the pay is not bad either. It's not difficult to find jobs paying from $50 to $90 per game. Game lengths vary by age, but it's not hard to make at least $25 per hour refereeing.
As you progress and referee high school and college matches, your pay can increase to between $110 and $250 per game. If you get into the top divisions, the pay can be $800 per game or more. Like any other career, the more work you put into it, the more money you can make. It's also a great second income for anyone, especially those of you with flexible hours.
While I focused on the steps to becoming a soccer referee, the process and pay can be similar for other referee positions in football, basketball, baseball and other sports that you grew up with. Officiating these games allows you to participate in the game you love and earn money for your time.
Best of all, you can take your gym membership and scrap it from all the exercise you will get running up and down the field! All you need to do is conduct a simple search for your state referee association, and you're off to the races.
Your Turn: Have you worked as a referee? Would you try it?
Jamie Bush is a finance professional who writes for the ModestMoney.com who also happens to referee soccer part-time. Check out Modest Money for all kinds of personal finance advice, as well as a great list of the top finance blogs.