Football referee

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Football referees officiate at football matches, from local youth and amateur leagues up to professional level.

Salary range: Variable

How to become a football referee

You can get into this job through:

  • training with a professional body

Other routes

You can get into refereering through a structured training programme run by the Football Association (FA).

To start, you’ll need to register with your local County Football Association and complete a Basic Referee’s Course.

The course takes up to 24 hours to complete and includes laws of the game, the role of the referee and practical skills. You must also referee at least five 11-a-side games and be assessed by your referee mentor.

You would usually start refereering at youth football level then progress as your experience grows. You can do further training with the FA to help you move on to refereering at higher levels in both the mens’s and women’s game.

More information

Professional and industry bodies

You can join the The Referees’ Association for support and professional development.

Further information

You can find out more about becoming a referee from The Football Association.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work well with others
  • ambition and a desire to succeed
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • concentration skills
  • the ability to think clearly using logic and reasoning
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and requirements

You’ll need to:

What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • inspecting the pitch and markings
  • making sure equipment like goalposts and nets are safely set up
  • checking you have everything you need for the game, like stopwatches, cards and radio communications (at top levels)
  • meeting with team managers
  • briefing your assistants on which signals to use and what to do in particular situations, like if there’s a confrontation on the pitch

During a game, you’ll:

  • follow the play and make decisions
  • communicate with your assistants to help with rulings
  • control the behaviour of the teams on the pitch, and their coaching staff on the sidelines

Working environment

You could work at a college, at a sports arena or at a university.

Your working environment may be physically demanding, outdoors in all weathers and you’ll travel often.

You may need to wear a uniform.

Career path and progression

With experience, you could train to become a referee training instructor, match assessor or referee development officer with a County FA.

You could also use your knowledge and experience to move into related areas, like sports development in the community.

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