How to Become a Football Referee

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If you want to become a football official, the best place to start is usually doing school district games or in local leagues.

What qualifications do you need to be a football official?

Most football referees played football in high school or at least when they were younger. This isn’t usually an absolute requirement, though.

You do need to be fit enough to keep up with the level of games you’re doing. You’ll also have to pass a rules test.

How much does a football official make?

The pay to officiate football games varies widely based on where you are. The average pay for sanctioned school games seems to be around $50 to $100 per game, with some of the big football states paying more.

Local youth games often work out to around $15 to $20 per hour when you’re starting out.

See this Officials Tax Guide for what taxes you’ll owe and what deductions you can claim.

How do you become a football referee?

To referee high school games, you’ll need to find the state high school athletic association for your state. You may need to join a local officials association, or high school athletic directors may contract with officiating crews directly.

New officials often start out doing junior varsity or middle school games then work their way up.

The process and training varies by state. Training clinics often start a few months before the season, so don’t wait until the last minute.

In terms of Pop Warner League, USA League, YMCA, and other non-school leagues, football often doesn’t have formal training classes or a national registration process like in other sports. You’ll need to reach out to whoever is in charge of officials for your local league.

How old do you need to be to referee football?

Most high school games require you to be 18 or older.

Youth games depend on the league. Some only use adults, while others use young officials on the younger games but still want you to be older than the players.

How do you become a college referee or NFL referee?

College and NFL referees usually start in high school athletics. You then work your way up through the ranks.

In many cases, you’ll need to attend training clinics sponsored by people who select officials for the lower-level college games. Securing an NFL referee position is about both networking and your refereeing skills.

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