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How much does a youth soccer referee make per game?

When I first considered becoming a youth soccer referee, it was driven by my love for the game and a desire to be actively involved. However, like many aspiring referees, I had common questions about the role, particularly how much one could earn per game. The answer is not straightforward, as it varies significantly based on several factors.

From my research and experience, I found that the location plays a crucial role in determining the pay. For instance, referees in urban or high-cost areas tend to earn more. Moreover, the age group and the level of competition you’re officiating also influence your compensation. Typically, refereeing for older age groups or more competitive leagues comes with higher pay.

It’s important to set a general idea of what to expect financially. Nevertheless, this article brings the insight into how much does a youth soccer referee make per game. After reading this, there will be no guesses but only the correct info.

How much does a youth soccer referee make per game?

In the diverse world of youth soccer in the United States, the earnings of referees can vary quite a bit. My journey as a referee has shown me that the exact amount you can earn per game is influenced significantly by several factors. Among these, the level of competition and the state where you officiate play crucial roles. It’s a common scenario to see youth soccer referees in one region earning different rates than those in another.

For example, while officiating in some states, referees may earn as low as $10 per game. This figure can be startlingly different in other areas, where the pay scale might reach upwards of $100 per game. These differences stem from the varying demands and soccer cultures across states. It’s fascinating yet complex to navigate these regional disparities.

The findings from my experience and research indicate that, on average, youth soccer referees in the United States typically earn between $20 and $50 per game. However, this range is just a part of a broader spectrum. It’s essential for aspiring referees to research and understand their local soccer economy to gauge what they can expect in terms of compensation.

Factors that Affect how much a Youth Soccer Referee Make

The world of a youth soccer referee is dynamic, with factors such as geographic location, competitive soccer leagues, and the evolution of the game itself continuously shaping their earnings. Let’s break it down a bit further.


In the realm of youth soccer, the experience of a referee plays a pivotal role in determining their pay rate. Referees who have spent years honing their skills and officiating games are often recognized as knowledgeable and reliable. This reputation can lead to higher pay rates, especially when they are selected for larger tournaments or competitive matches.

The Impact of Location

The location where one referees can significantly impact the pay rate. Referees in larger cities with a higher cost of living tend to earn more compared to those in smaller towns or rural areas. This variance is also reflected in different states, where minimum pay rates can fluctuate.

Level of Play

The Level of Play being officiated greatly influences a referee’s income. Referees working with older age groups or in higher levels of competition, like a U19 MLS NEXT game, often receive greater compensation than those working with younger players or in less competitive leagues.

Center Referee versus Assistant Referee

There is a noticeable difference in compensation between the Center Referee and Assistant Referee. The Center Referee, tasked with enforcing rules, starting and stopping play, and making critical decisions, typically earns more. This is due to their integral role in determining the outcome of the game.

Age Group and Pay

The Age Group a referee works with also affects their earnings. Generally, referees for younger age groups, like a U8 game, might earn around $15-$25 per game, while those for older, more competitive players, such as in a U16 game, could earn $30-$50 per game.

Level of Competition

Referees in more competitive leagues, such as travel or premier league games, often have the opportunity to earn more than those in recreational or local league games. This increased pay reflects the heightened demands and skills required at these levels.

Duration and Number of Games

The Game Duration and the number of games a referee officiates in a single day or tournament can affect earnings. Longer games and multiple games in a day can lead to an increase in pay.

Additional Responsibilities and Certifications

Assistant Referees, often referred to as linesmen, have a different pay scale than Center Referees. Additionally, referees with higher certifications and those who take on extra responsibilities, like travel for games, may earn more.

Pay Differentials in Tournaments and Playoffs

Referees officiating in Tournament or Playoff Games often receive higher rates compared to those working regular-season games. These games usually demand more from referees in terms of skill and experience.

Average Youth Soccer Referee Pay

When delving into the world of youth soccer refereeing, many are considering turning it into a full-time gig. The primary question is, what can one expect to earn? As per research, the average salary for a youth soccer referee in the United States hovers around $43,000 per year.

State Variations in Earnings

However, the amount one can make per game can vary. For instance, in Pennsylvania, the average salary is about $45,083 per year. This variation is often due to the location, the level of competition they are officiating, and the specific organization they are working for.

Pay Per Game Insights

On average, a referee can expect to earn between $20 and $50 per game. This range can vary again based on the state or organization. Some regions and games might offer higher or lower rates, reflecting the local soccer economy.

The Impact of Frequency and Extra Work

The annual salary also correlates with the frequency of games officiated. Many referees often officiate on the side in addition to a full-time job. For those making around or over $45k, it implies a significant number of games officiated throughout the year.

Incentives and Bonuses

Some organizations also offer bonuses or other incentives, particularly for referees who work certain games or meet specific performance criteria. These can add a considerable boost to the overall earnings of a youth soccer referee.

States that Pay the Most to Referees

In the landscape of youth soccer referees, the pay varies significantly across the US states. According to sources, youth soccer referees in the District of Columbia lead with an average salary of $65,390. Following closely are states like California and New Jersey, offering $56,400 and $53,990 respectively. These figures represent the top 10 states in terms of compensation, including Alaska at $52,570 and Massachusetts at $49,440.

It’s important to note that these average salaries can vary based on the city within the state, the experience level of the referee, and the specific league they are officiating for. For example, while Rhode Island and Maine offer $37,157 and $38,890, the cost of living in these states might impact the higher standard of living that the salary suggests.

In states like Pennsylvania, Vermont, and New York, where the average salaries are $37,816, $40,620, and $41,292 respectively, the data indicates a diverse range of earnings among youth soccer referees. This diversity underscores how significantly the pay for refereeing can fluctuate, not just from state to state, but also based on other factors like league and experience level.

Here we present the salary information in a tabular form to make it more accessible and easier to understand.

Rank State Average Salary
1 District of Columbia $65,390
2 California $56,400
3 New Jersey $53,990
4 Alaska $52,570
5 Massachusetts $49,440
6 New York $41,292
7 Vermont $40,620
8 Maine $38,890
9 Pennsylvania $37,816
10 Rhode Island $37,157


The Benefits and Limitations of Being a Youth Soccer Referee

Being a youth soccer referee offers several benefits. The physical activity involved in officiating soccer games—running, jogging, and walking across the field—promotes a healthy lifestyle and ensures fitness. Additionally, refereeing youth soccer matches fosters significant personal growth. You learn to manage high-pressure situations, maintain control of the game, and develop skills like decision-making, communication, and leadership.

Professional and Personal Advantages

The role offers more than just physical benefits. It’s a chance to build relationships and network with soccer enthusiasts, coaches, players, and fellow referees. This networking can be invaluable for both personal and professional development. Moreover, the flexible schedule of refereeing—mostly on weekends or evenings—makes it a viable part-time job or source of supplemental income, especially for those with busy schedules.

Contributing to Youth Sports

Referees play a crucial role in ensuring a safe and fair environment for young players to develop their soccer skills, teamwork, and sportsmanship. This aspect of supporting youth development is often seen as a rewarding and fulfilling part of the job.

The Challenges Faced

However, the role of a youth soccer referee is not without its challenges. It demands significant time commitment for training, certification, and ongoing education, which can be difficult to balance with other personal and professional responsibilities.

The Pressures of the Job

Referees often face stress and pressure from making critical decisions during games, which can be emotionally draining, especially when those decisions lead to disagreements or confrontations with players, coaches, or parents. Managing such conflicts, particularly when it involves unsportsmanlike behavior, requires tact and resilience.

Financial and Physical Considerations

The limited income potential of refereeing, primarily as a part-time role, means it may not be a viable primary source of income for most. Additionally, the job carries an injury risk due to potential collisions or accidents on the field.

Weather Challenges

Working in various weather conditions—heat, cold, rain, or snow—requires preparation and the right equipment to stay comfortable and safe.

In summary, while being a youth soccer referee can be rewarding and offer opportunities for active engagement in the sport and personal development, it also involves managing challenges such as time commitment, stress, limited income, and weather conditions.

Helpful Tips for Youth Soccer Referees

  1. Master the Rules:
    • Know and be familiar with both the general and specific rules of soccer.
    • Understanding the rules is crucial for making accurate calls and reducing confusion on the field.
  2. Effective Communication:
    • Use both hand signals and verbal communication to convey decisions to players and coaches.
    • Clear communication helps prevent misunderstandings and keeps the game running smoothly.
  3. Maintain Focus:
    • Stay focused on the game to avoid distractions.
    • Keep your eyes on the ball to make quick decisions and control the flow of the game.
  4. Be Confident:
    • Approach each game with confidence in your decision-making abilities.
    • Don’t hesitate to make tough calls when necessary.
  5. Physical Fitness:
    • Stay in shape to keep up with the physical demands of refereeing.
    • Good physical condition is important for maintaining presence and agility on the field.

By following these tips, youth soccer referees can enhance their performance, ensuring that players have a safe and enjoyable experience on the field.Top of Form

Is It Worth to be a Soccer Referee?

Deciding whether to become a soccer referee involves weighing various aspects. For those who love the sport and have the right personality, including thick skin, it can be a rewarding way to make extra money. Refereeing offers a chance to supplement your income and, for some, can even turn into a full-time occupation. It’s about investing your time and effort into something that goes beyond just the game.

One of the more difficult aspects of refereeing is dealing with the external pressures, like crazy soccer parents. Heckling and berating from the sideline are common, and as an official, you will naturally make wrong calls and might hear a parent yell. The ability to brush off such comments and maintain focus on the game is crucial. In some instances, you might even see parents get kicked out of games for inappropriate behavior.

Ultimately, the decision hinges on whether you find the role worth it. For many, the chance to stay actively involved in soccer, make good money, and embrace the opportunities that come with being a referee makes it a fulfilling choice. It’s about finding a balance between the challenges and the unique rewards that come with the job.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much do FIFA referees get paid?

FIFA referees are compensated well for their role in officiating at the highest levels of soccer. Their pay varies depending on the competition and their experience. For major tournaments like the FIFA World Cup, referees can earn a significant fee per game, often several thousand dollars. Additionally, they receive a daily allowance during tournaments. The exact figures vary, but FIFA referees are among the highest-paid in the soccer refereeing profession.

How much can a teenager make refereeing soccer?

A teenager starting as a soccer referee can expect to earn differently based on the region, league, and level of games they officiate. Typically, teenage referees can make anywhere from $15 to $50 per game. The pay rate often increases with the referee’s experience, the competitive level of the match, and the age group of the players. Refereeing can be a good source of part-time income for teenagers passionate about soccer.

How do you become a referee at 14?

To become a referee at 14, you usually need to complete a basic refereeing course offered by your local or national soccer association. These courses cover the rules of soccer, game management, and the practical aspects of officiating. After successfully completing the course and any necessary exams, you’ll be certified to referee youth soccer matches. It’s important to check with your local soccer association for specific age requirements and available courses.

Is it hard to become a FIFA referee?

Becoming a FIFA referee is a challenging and competitive process, requiring a high level of dedication, fitness, and deep knowledge of the game. Prospective FIFA referees must first gain experience and excel in officiating in their national leagues. They need to demonstrate exceptional performance, fitness, and decision-making abilities at the national level before being considered for international matches. The path to becoming a FIFA referee involves rigorous training, assessments, and continuous evaluation.