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Become a Referee



Want to become a United States Soccer Federation (USSF) referee and start working youth matches? Then check the Calendar of Events, find an Entry-Level Referee Clinic that you'd like to attend, click on it, and register.


Maybe you have some questions about becoming a USSF referee. Or, you're already a soccer referee with some experience and now want to officiate high school or college matches. AYSO referees can cross-certify with USSF and become dual-certified. The information provided below may answer your questions.

Become a USSF Referee


The following questions will help you in your quest to become a certified referee with the United States Soccer Federation (USSF).

Q.: What is the United States Soccer Federation (USSF)?
A.: The USSF, or US Soccer, is the certifying organization for sanctioned club matches in the United States. If you want to work tournaments, local leagues (such as ISL), or club matches, you will need to be USSF Certified.

Q.: How can I become a soccer referee?
A.: By completing the Grassroots Referee Course which has both an online and an instructor-led component.

Q.: What are the requirements to take the course?
A.: You should be physically fit, emotionally mature, at least 13 years of age, and have the time available to referee games.

Q.: How do I sign up for the Grassroots Referee Course?
A.: Course dates and times will be posted to the Calendar of Events. Find a clinic that you would like to take and then click on the event to register for it. All courses require pre-registration and payment before attending.

Q.: What type of entry-level courses are offered?
A.: Two types of USSF Entry-Level Courses are offered locally by the Soccer Clubs and Referee Associations. They are the Referee Grade 8 and Recreational Referee Grade 9 courses. The Referee Grade 8 course is typically taught over two days. You must attend the full class, and pass a 50-question multiple choice exam (80% correct is needed to pass). The cost of the course is $55. The Recreational Referee Grade 9 course is an 8-hour, single-day course. You must attend the class, and pass a 50-question multiple choice exam (80% correct is needed to pass). The cost of the course is $40. 
US Soccer also offers on-line pre-course modules found under Training & Tests. They take approximately 2 hours to complete. You can go at your own pace too. They are an excellent resource to prepare you for the Instructor-led Entry-Level Referee Class. Use SDI-mmddyy for the Clinic Number where "mmddyy" is the date you view a module.

Q.: What games can I referee once I have completed a course?
A.: For Grade 8, you can be assigned as a Referee or an Assistant Referee for all youth games, including recreational and travel (or select) games. You can also be assigned as a Referee or an Assistant Referee to competitive Youth games, depending on the age and experience of the referee. You will typically start out working the younger age groups; and, as you gain experience, move on to the older age groups. For Grade 9, you can be assigned as a Referee or Assistant Referee on recreational youth games for players 14 years old and younger only.

Q.: After I pass the course, how do I get assigned games to referee?
A.: A Referee Assignor will schedule your games. You will be given a list of the local assignors either during or immediately after the referee course. It is your responsibility to contact the Assignor, let them know you completed the course, and are ready to referee games. The most important things the Assignor needs to know are your availability to do games, your e-Mail address, and phone number. Check the Assignment page for a list of registered assignors in Iowa.

Q.: How do I continue to referee games after my first year?
A.: All referees must re-certify and re-register each year by attending a single 4-hour instructor-led re-certification class or completing the online version. Referee certification is valid for each calendar year; however, re-certifications can start as early as July for the following year. If you first certified as a referee between July and December, your certification is valid for the remainder of that year and for the entire next calendar year. If you originally became certified in the first half of the year, then your certification is valid through December of that year. There are various re-certification classes conducted throughout the state, and these can be found on the Calendar of Events. In Iowa, referees are expected to re-register for the following year between August 1 and November 1 without a penalty. Referees who miss this 90-day registration window are assessed a late fee. Additionally, if you do not re-register during the normal registration window, you run the risk of not receiving a new Referee Badge.

Become a High School (NFHS) Soccer Official

In order to become a Soccer Official with the Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA), consult the Registration Procedures described on Pages 4-6 of the IHSAA Officials Guide.
You must register with the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union (IGHSAU) if you also intend to work Girls High School matches. Consult page 9 of the IHSAA Officials Guide for more information.
NOTE: Most local Referee Assignors will require that you certify with both in order to receive High School matches.

Become a College (NISOA) Referee


In order to become a National Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Association (NISOA) referee, you must have a minimum of 3 years of referee experience and receive recommendations from existing college officials. Speak to a member of your local NISOA Chapter to receive more information. (See contacts below.) If transferring from another NISOA Chapter, you must complete a Transfer Form available from the NISOA web site.

NISOA Chapter Contacts
  Greater Iowa Chapter (GIC-NISOA) Phil Watson
  Mid-Iowa Chapter (MISOA) Ray Schwichtenberg

AYSO Cross-Certification with USSF

Are you an AYSO referee who would also like to be a USSF referee? An AYSO Intermediate, Advanced, or National Referee can cross-certify to a USSF Grade 8 Referee by doing the following:
  1. Complete the AYSO/USSF Cross-Certification Form*. The authorizing signature is that of the Section Referee Administrator for a National Referee or the Area Referee Administrator for an Intermediate or Advanced Referee. The signature of the Regional Commissioner is also required.
  2. Write a check in the amount of $55, made payable to the Iowa Referee Committee (IRC), to cover the fees associated with registration as a USSF referee.
  3. Mail forms and check to:
IRC Registrar
1348 Eisenhower Rd.
Hiawatha, IA
Once your registration has been processed by the Registrar, a badge will be mailed to you.
Cross-certification is available to AYSO and USSF referees who are not already certified with both organizations. All games officiated for AYSO or USSF may be applied toward the certification requirements of either organization. The Diagonal System of Control (DSC) is the only recognized system of control.

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