Prince William SRA


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Questions & Answers -- How to Become a Referee
Questions & Answers

This section is intended for persons who are not currently referees. If you are a new or experienced referee, please see our section on Getting Started - Refereeing with PWSRA.

Q. How do I become a referee?
A. Prospective referees must attend and pass a course sponsored and taught by the United States Soccer Federation. Referees begin at either a Grade 8 or a Grade 9.
Q. How much does a course cost?
A. The new referee clinic for either Grade-8 or Grade-9 costs $70.
Q. What’s the difference between a Grade-8 and a Grade-9?
A. A Grade 8, Competitive Youth Referee, is authorized to referee competitive (travel) youth soccer matches and recreational (house) youth games up to 19U. A Grade-8 clinic will qualify a referee to be both a Referee (center) and Assistant Referee (often erroneously referred to as linesman). The target placement for a Grade 8 referee is the competitive youth game but will often work more recreational games simply because there are more.

A Grade-9, Recreational Youth Referee, is authorized to referee recreational games age at 14U and younger and to be an assistant referee on competitive matches, 14U and younger. A Grade-9 clinic will qualify a referee to be both a Referee (center) and Assistant Referee. The target for a Grade 9 referee is the recreational youth game at 14U and below.
Q. How long is the course?
A. Both courses combine online training with classroom/field training. The classroom/field portion is generally 9-10 hours and may be scheduled for a couple evenings or one or two weekend days. The online portion is 2.5 - 3 hours depending on the Grade. Every course will be different depending on training facilities and instructor availability.
Q. If I start as a Grade-9 can I become a Grade-8 later?
A. Yes. A Grade-9 referee can always attend a New Grade-8 course later or can take a special "Bridge" Course designed to take Grade-9 referees to Grade-8.
Q. Does everyone pass the course?
A. No. There is an exam and one must qualify by passing. The bottom line is that almost everyone who watches the required videos and listens to the instructing should do well. If one should not pass, they will usually have an opportunity to re-test in another clinic.
Q. Where can I locate information about courses?
A. All approved courses are listed on the State Referee web site ( Check under Clinic Listing. We sponsor clinics and our current offerings are always listed under our Training Clinics link. But you don’t need to train with us to work with us and if you train with us you are free to work elsewhere.

Q. How do I register?
A. Go to the State Referee web site clinic selection. Select a course and follow the on-screen prompts. You will navigate to the clinic, enroll in the clinic and register (pay) at the same time.

Q. If I take a course from PWSRA do I have to ref for PWRSA/PWSI?
A. No. All refs are welcome to train with us and work elsewhere.

Q. Do I have to take a course from PWSRA to ref for PWRSA/PWSI?
A. No. You are welcome to get your certification anywhere and then join PWSRA.

Q. When I pass the test and become a referee how much more will it cost?
A. A referee needs a uniform and basic equipment. A basic uniform (jersey, shorts, socks) package will cost around $55. The packages typically include accessories such as flags, whistle, data wallet, and red/yellow cards. A referee at the rec level can usually get by for the first season with one short-sleeve yellow jersey. Referees who work competitive matches are expected to have alternate color jerseys (black, red, blue, green) and in long-sleeve as well as short. In both sleeve lengths, one could buy 10 different jerseys!

Q. How much will I make?
A. Rates vary widely. Center refs make more than Assistant Refs. The higher the age (and the longer the game) the more one makes. For one game as center for U8 or U10 the rates can be approximately $15-$20. Center refs for a U19 can pay $30 - $50 or more.

Q. How do I get games?
A. Once certified, a new referee needs to contact an assignor for a local club or league. The assignor should work with you to give you appropriate skill level games based on your age and qualification.

Q. Is there an age limit to ref?
A. The DCV Referee Program has set a minimum age requirement of age 12  for either a Grade-8 or Grade-9 referee. This is consistent with the Va. Child Labor Law which permits youth referees to work provided they are at least 12 years of age. In addition, most leagues or clubs require a youth center referee to be at least two years older than the age group they referee. This rule does not apply to working the line (AR).  Most competitive leagues require the referee to be at least 16 years of age.

Q. Which course do you recommend to start?
We strongly recommend that new refs 12 and 13 years old, and maybe even 14, start with a Grade 9 course. A Grade 9 referee will be able to be a referee (center) or assistant referee on recreational matches at 14U and below. A Grade 9 can also be an assistant referee on 14U competitive (travel) matches. Realistically, at that age, their target assignments should be 14U and under. And we’ll go one step further. We believe that most 12 year olds will be better served by waiting until they are 13 or 14 to begin refereeing.

Q. Will I be certified to referee adult matches?
A. No. To be certified for adult matches one must upgrade to Grade 7 which can occur after one year as a Grade 8 referee. There are specific training and upgrade requirements.

Q. Will I be certified to referee high school matches?
A. No. High school games are not played under the Laws of the Game but rather under rules written by the National Federation of High Schools. Contact the Commonwealth Soccer Officials Association for information about high school officiating.

Photo: Katie, Kirsten, Aly - Nov, 2015

UPDATED: February 14, 2017

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