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Referee: A great moneymaking job for kids, teens, and adults!

Updated on July 6, 2012

Why the bad rep?

For some reason, referees get a bad rep. Maybe its because they are blamed for a team's loss or they make a bad call here or there. However, the reason why many people are referees is because it is a great, high paying job. What many people don't realize is that you can become a ref at a young age, some sports as low as 12. This offers young teens a great first job that will give them valuable experience later in life.

Benefits of becoming a ref

There are countless benefits to becoming a referee:

  • First and foremost, referees get paid extremely well. A ref officiating a 12 year old game can expect to receive double or even triple minimum wage. Since games usually don't last anymore than an hour at that age group, refs don't have to work many games to make a lot of dough.
  • Another great benefit is the flexibility involved. Adults and especially teenagers tend to be very busy and active making it hard to find time to work. However, with games happening mostly on weekends and some weeknights, its easy to find time to ref games. Also, since parents are needed to transport the kids to the games, most games are scheduled in the evening allowing plenty of time for a working adult to ref the games.
  • Thirdly, a ref does not have to pass an interview and usually anyone who applies can ref, as long as they take a referee class and pass the test. Although the ref clinics and tests cost quite a bit of money, they can easily be paid off after a couple games of officiating.
  • Still yet another benefit is the variety of sports available. Since every single sport requires some sort of officiating crew, there is always an opportunity to ref sports that you are interested in. If you like baseball, you can become and umpire. Is soccer your sport? You can ref that too. Do you like them both? Guess what? You can ref them both. As long as you pass the tests, you can ref any sport that you wish. All pay very well and since many sports occur during different times of the year, the sports don't conflict with each other.
  • Being able to watch interesting matches and get paid for it is another perk. Although officiating a game requires more attention to the players and making sure they are following the rules, you still get to enjoy great games. You will get to experience first hand overtimes, shoot outs, hat tricks, and other exciting sports moments. Best of all, you get paid to do it.
  • Lastly, one of the best traits of a referee is that if you mess up a game, who cares? Well, the parents, coaches, and players might, but you don't have to worry about losing your job. Sports associations know that people make mistakes and that officiating can be tough at times. In fact, the people in charge of these associations are probably refs themselves and can relate to your mistakes. So just get out there, have fun, and don't worry!


Along with the significant advantages that come with being a referee, there are a few disadvantages:

  • You will get yelled at. Parents, coaches, and players all want to win, and when they are losing, they get mad. They naturally assume that it is the refs fault since you as the ref have been favoring the other team the whole time. However, most associations have a zero tolerance rule that discourages dissent. Also, the high pay that comes with officiating makes up for all the screaming.
  • Ref Clinics, tests, and uniforms can get costly. Ref clinics and tests can easily add up to $100, and most associations require you to purchase your own uniform. This includes a jersey, shorts, whistle, cards, cleats, socks, and other equipment related to the sport. Some sports such as soccer also have different colored jerseys that you will eventually have to purchase. However, once again, the high pay you will receive usually covers all these costs within the first week or two.
  • Lastly, you will be outside in the heat, cold, rain, or snow and you will have a lot of running to do. If you are an outside person and are in good shape, this shouldn't be a problem. However, for those who are not, this might make officiating unenjoyable.

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All in all, becoming a ref is a very rewarding job. It is easy to become a ref and the pay is high. You get to enjoy great games and stay in shape. Best of all, since sports is an integral part of American life, there will always be a demand for refs. See the following link for information on how to become a referee.


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