How to Become a High School Soccer Referee (Step-by-Step)

How to Become a High School Soccer Referee featured image

Becoming a high school soccer referee is a fantastic opportunity that has the potential to benefit both you and your local high school community. However, I know that many people never take this chance because they are unsure how to begin. I’ve created this step-step guide to show you exactly how to become a high school soccer referee.

To become a high school soccer referee, you will first have to apply to your specific state federation. The federation will then require you to appear at a test and complete the necessary training. You will then join a board of officials in your locality who will periodically assign you to local high school soccer games.

Being a high school soccer referee is a hugely rewarding experience, and I highly recommend you seriously consider this opportunity. To help you with this, in this article, I will provide you with:

  • The step-by-step process of becoming a referee
  • A list of benefits in this role
  • The code of ethics a high school soccer referee must abide by
  • and tips on how to excel in the role.

Steps to Become a High School Soccer Referee

Your journey to becoming a high school soccer referee starts here. Follow these steps, and you will be working as a referee before you know it.

1. Join Your State Federation

The first step to becoming a soccer referee is to join your state federation. Unfortunately, I don’t have the room here to give you all the details for each state federation, but here is a list of addresses and contact information of every state’s associations provided by the NFHS.

Every state throughout the US has different rules, age requirements, fitness requirements, and recruitment procedures that they require their referees to meet. 

Make sure you check out your individual state requirements for referees and ensure you meet them.

2. Join a Referee Training Program

Next, you need to join a referee training program.

There are many third-party training programs and also programs run by the state’s federation. I recommend joining state-run programs as it is usually easier to get licensed through one of these.

After you join the training program, they will often run a background check and a medical check on you.

If you pass both, you will receive a test book to prepare for the written examination that comes next.

3. Take a Written Test

The written test isn’t anything complicated. It’s just a regular written test to make sure you know the ins and outs of NFHS soccer rules.

If you’re unsure of the rules, check out my guide – The Rules of Soccer: A Complete Guide.

After you complete reading the test book and you’re confident of the rules, register for an examination date. 

Different states take examinations at various intervals throughout a year, but usually, the test is held twice a year.

Passing the test with a minimum score is a must for appearing in-field training. There is no limit on how many times you can appear on the test. But the earlier you pass, the better impression you have, and the quicker you can move forward.

4. Get Your Equipment

At this point, you need to get hold of some essential refereeing equipment.

Soccer referee equipment
Soccer referee equipment

At the beginning of your journey of becoming a referee, you will have to get your equipment. This will only change if one day you become a high-profile official. At that point, you will have a chance to be sponsored by various companies who will supply most things you need. But until then you will have to provide your own equipment.

Soccer referee equipment list:

  • Whistle with lanyard
  • Stopwatch
  • Uniform shirt
  • Red and yellow cards
  • Shoes
  • Socks
  • Shorts
  • Notebook and pen

You can find most of this equipment on Amazon by following this link.

The color of the shorts, shirt, shoes, and socks isn’t fixed. Again this depends on the state rules. But it is important to wear colors that stand out from the teams you are officiating.

Contact your respective state federation for more details.

5. Complete the In-Person Field Training

The in-person field training is where the referees are made and will be the next step in your journey.

This is where you learn skills such as:

  • The refereeing signals,
  • how to keep your focus on the game while avoiding running into other players,
  • how to handle an agitated player, and lots more.

The in-person field training is where you practically learn refereeing at a grassroots level.

There is a minimum amount of hours of field training that you must complete. In many ways, this is like achieving a minimum of flight hours before getting a pilot license.

After you complete the minimum hours, you will be given some minor games to officiate. This may be practice games for a team where the same team is divided into two or games for a youth team where there are very few consequences if you make a mistake.

6. Register With NFHS

This is the easiest, if most detailed, part of becoming a high school referee.

To be a high school soccer referee, you need to register with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).

Thankfully, they have made this part easy so that you won’t have to look any further.

You can register yourself as an official from the NFHS website, where it will redirect you to the corresponding page.

screenshot of webpage to register as an NFHS official

Follow the steps below to register as an NFHS official:

  • Go to
    1. Click the login button at the center of the screen.
    2. Click sign up for free on the next page.
    3. Enter your first name, last name, a valid email address, and your desired password.
    4. Click submit
    5. Check your email for a verification code, enter it in the corresponding box and click submit.
    6. Accept the terms and conditions from the next page.
    7. Now login to dragonfly and click get started.
    8. Then select your role as an official
    9. Search for your state association from the next window and click join.
    10. Select soccer as your sport.
    11. Find and select your regional association from the next page. Regional associations handle your payment and game assignments.
    12. Review everything you’ve selected on the next page and click save.
    13. Click ‘complete your registration on the next page.
    14. Work through the different items on the next page, such as payment to your state association, submitting background authorization forms and other paperwork, etc.
    15. The completed items will have a green checkmark on the right.
    16. Once you have finished, you will receive a confirmation email from dragonfly.
  • Now all you have to do is wait for your association to approve your paperwork.

Once your paperwork is approved, you can start appearing as a high school soccer referee! 

If you’re also interested in what it takes to become a youth soccer referee, check out my article – How to Become a Youth Soccer Referee. Or if you’re interested in how to be a professional referee, have a look at my article – How to Become a Soccer Referee (Grassroots and Pro).

Benefits of Becoming a High School Soccer Official

Becoming a high school soccer official comes with many benefits for you and those around you.

These benefits include:

  • Getting to make a positive difference in your local community
  • Getting to know new people
  • The opportunity to work around your other commitments
  • The chance to make some extra money
  • An incentive to stay in shape

Being a high school soccer referee also means you will be registered with the NFHS.

Following are some of the benefits you will receive as an NFHS officials association member:

  • Recognized as an NFHS Officials Association member
  • NFHS Awards Program
  • insurance coverage
  • Free Access to the Interscholastic Officiating Course on
  • you will have an official NFHS Officials Association membership card
  • Professional development by appearing in various courses.
  • Access to NFHS Rules App
  • Access to the NFHS Center for Officials Services (COS)
  • Network communication through NFHS state, regional and national programs
  • Rental Car discounts

This list includes just some of the benefits available to you. There are many other benefits and features that you will have access to as a member of the NFHS officials association.

How Much Does a High School Soccer Referee Make?

One question I often hear people ask is – “how much does a high school soccer referee make?”

A high school soccer referee makes between $40 and $100 per game. The exact amount a high school soccer referee is paid depends on the individual state responsible for paying the referee and the competitive level of the game they are officiating.

In general, a referee will be paid more for an important game than they will be paid for a game of less importance. If you are officiating a regional high school final, you could expect to earn around $100 for that game. If you are officiating an early season friendly game, you may be paid nearer to $40.

You’ll need to contact your local federation for the exact figures in your area.

High School Soccer Referee Official Code of Ethics

As a high school official, there are some ethics that you must abide by at all times. It’s essential to be aware of this before starting your journey of becoming a high school soccer referee.

You must be prepared to commit to this code.

These ethics are governed and mandated by NFHS and independent of the sports type. As long as you remain registered with NFHS, you have to follow these codes of ethics:

  • Officials must learn the rules and the mechanics of the game well enough so that they can enforce the rules on the players in an impartial and controlled manner.
  • Every official has to work with the state association and each other in a coordinated and cooperative manner.
  • Officials must uphold the dignity of their profession in all interactions with any individual, such as students, teachers, coaches, colleagues, and the public.
  • Officials must not consume alcohol or use tobacco products in the period between arrival at the competition site and leaving after the completion of the contest.
  • Officials must be prepared mentally and physically. They must dress up in a manner consistent with the high standards of the profession.
  • Officials must be punctual and professional in the fulfillment of their duties.
  • Officials must maintain the respect that general people hold for the profession. He must not do anything that blemishes the respect and dignity of his profession.
  • Officials must be aware of the risk of injury that student-athletes are prone to while enforcing the rules of play.
  • Officials must educate themselves in the recognition of emergency conditions that might occur during the competition.
  • Officials must maintain their ethics while participating in forums, chat rooms, and all forms of social media.

Becoming a referee at the high school level is rewarding and inspiring for many people. It may even be the beginning of a journey of joining the USSF and becoming a national-level soccer referee.

For more information about high school soccer, check out one of my related articles:

Ben Clayfield

Hi! My name's Ben. I've played, watched, read about, and enjoyed soccer throughout my life. I really enjoy finding out more about the game I love and sharing it with you all. Find out more about me here - Ben Clayfield

Recent Posts