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How to Become a College Soccer Referee

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There are 10 United States Soccer Federation (USSF) referee grades. There are no specific experience or age requirements to begin the steps to become an entry-level grade soccer referee. After completing entry-level grade course training and passing the required examinations, you have the opportunity to advance to higher grade levels, which can provide you the opportunity to work as a college soccer referee.

Attend an entry level referee course. Contact your state's soccer referee committee to obtain entry-level grade course and examination information. There are two types of entry level courses offered to aspiring soccer referees. These are grade 9, which is the recreational referee, and the referee grade 8. These courses are led by USSF instructors. The recreational grade 9 course is a one-day course which usually lasts about eight hours. The grade 8 course is an 18-hour course. If you initially complete the recreational grade 9 course, you may advance to the referee grade 8 course by completing an eight-hour bridge course. Grade 9 referees are qualified to work as a referee or assistant referee for youth games age 14 and under. Grade 8 referees can referee all youth games.

Register as a U.S. soccer referee and complete the registration requirements. The registration fee is $50 for entry level Grades 8 and 9. After you register as a soccer referee, contact your local assignors — the people who put together the referees for games — who will assign you to referee games that fit your grade level qualifications and experience.

Continue to upgrade your referee grade level by increasing the number and type of games that you referee, completing training courses to advance to higher levels and maintaining good physical fitness. The soccer referee committee in your state can assist you with establishing your upgrade process.

Apply to become a member of the National Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Association (NISOA). This organization provides college soccer referees for the college level games. Before you apply to become a NISOA member, you will need to meet certain requirements. You must pass a written qualification test; have three years refereeing high school soccer games including a cumulative of 25 games or more at the high school level; pass two field performance tests; pass a physical fitness test; provide a statement of health from a physician; provide two letters of recommendation for NISOA members; and provide one recommendation letter from a college coach or NISOA assessor or clinician.


Marie Huntington has been a legal and business writer since 2002 with articles appearing on various websites. She also provides travel-related content online and holds a Juris Doctor from Thomas Cooley Law School.