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Football referee

Alternative titles for this job include

A football referee is the official in charge of the game at local, youth, amateur and professional football matches.

Average salary (a year)


Typical hours (a week)

36 to 38 variable

You could work

evenings / weekends / bank holidays flexibly

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become a football referee

You can get into this job by training with a professional body.

Other Routes

You can become a referee 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 is a mix of online and face-to-face training. You must complete the online learning and do safeguarding training before you complete the face-to-face module.

The online learning covers the laws of football, including:

  • pre-match responsibilities
  • signals and communication
  • how to manage common issues
  • the offside rule
  • managing game restarts and set pieces

You'll also need to complete 11 hours of face-to-face training that includes classroom-based learning and practical activity on the pitch.

To qualify, you must then referee at least five 11-a-side games and be assessed by a referee mentor.

You would usually start to referee at youth football level then progress as your experience grows. You can do further training with the FA to help you move on to referee at higher levels in both the men'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

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

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

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

In your day-to-day tasks you may:

  • inspect the pitch and markings
  • make sure equipment like goalposts and nets are safely set up
  • check items like stopwatches, cards and radio equipment
  • meet with team managers and brief your assistants
  • manage the kick off and follow the game
  • supervise restarts, off-side, free-kicks, penalties and throw ins
  • communicate with your assistants to help with rulings
  • deal with inappropriate behaviour on the pitch and the sidelines
  • caution or send off players

Working environment

You could work on a sports field.

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

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

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.

Current opportunities

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Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

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Courses In England

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