If you’re thinking about becoming a soccer referee, you have several alternatives to joining organizations that require you to pay fees. There are also other jobs you may want to consider.
Options to Become a Soccer Referee in Illinois
The Illinois Soccer Referee Committee is only one way to become a referee. Other options include the Illinois High School Association Officials Department, National Intercollegiate Soccer Official Association, Elite College Soccer Referees, and many independent leagues.
With the current referee shortage, there is no need to pay for a referee certification process. Many organizations will hire you directly and often with no referee experience at all.
Adult Referee Jobs in Illinois
If you’re an adult, there are many soccer referee jobs open in the Illinois area. Your best bet is to go with the independent leagues. These leagues typically pay $20-$25 per hour, don’t charge you any fees, and have seasons throughout the year.
In the Chicago Area, Chicago Sport and Social Club, Players Sport & Social Group, and Chicago Rec Sports are just a few of the leagues out there. You can find referee openings throughout Illinois by looking up league websites or checking sites like Indeed and Craigslist.
Another thing to think about is that being a referee requires you to schedule your time in advance, and there isn’t really that much room for last-minute schedule changes. When you’re playing, you don’t want to find out at the last minute if your game is canceled because there’s no referee. If you’re looking for a truly flexible job that pays the same or better, you may want to check out gig jobs like Uber, Lyft, Instacart, and Shipt.
Youth Soccer Referee Jobs in Illinois
Minors who want to be referees are usually limited to the paid USSF grassroots referee course. Most independent leagues, even those for youth players, won’t hire minor referees.
Like any paid job training, parents and referees should carefully consider the costs and benefits. Leagues and paid referee programs have a financial interest in having as many people as possible take the referee course. There are several things you should consider to decide if being a referee is right for you.
- Scheduling. Often, a player pays for the course but always has overlapping league and tournament games. When their season is done, no one else is playing, either.
- Available jobs. Many places have no available jobs for younger referees. Referees age 10-14 used to be hired as assistant referees, but leagues have done away with ARs on many younger age games since those games now have smaller numbers of players and no offsides.
- Net profit. 2-3 games as an AR making $15 to $25 over 8-10 weeks (if always available) doesn’t add up to much compared to $200+ for USSF courses and uniforms.
Safe Working Environments
- Physical and mental health. Shifting attitudes of clubs, leagues, and parents have led to increased attacks on referees and psychologists questioning the mental health impact of being a referee.
- Overwork. Assignors routinely ignore child labor laws even after other referee organizations were penalized, deaths of players due to excessive work, and sanctions against similar youth-oriented organizations.
- Vetting. Assignors frequently use referees without background checks to fill shortages despite multiple instances of referees being arrested for child molestation and other crimes.
- Child protection. Many organizations allowing assignors and other administrators to engage in one-on-one texting with minors despite it being against national SafeSport policies, not consistent with the practices of other organizations like the Boy Scouts, and after countless instances of adults being arrested for inappropriate contact with minors.
Other Available Jobs
Just as the landscape of youth sports has changed over the last 10+ years, parents should also think about the recent changes in retail positions. Many retail positions are now offering:
- Hourly wages of $15+ per hour with no fees to pay
- Longer shifts and more consistent work throughout the year
- College tuition assistance
- Promotion tracks to store management positions and various corporate roles
For the right person in the right place, being a referee can still be a good first job. However, you should treat it just like any potential job and compare options and ask pointed questions about potential issues.
Find Your Next Job
Whether you’ve decided to become an Illinois referee or want to explore other options, check out ZipRecruiter. ZipRecruiter makes it easy to find a job that’s a perfect match for you.