How Much Do College Soccer Referees Make?

College soccer referee pay varies widely by college and region.

College Soccer Referee Game Fees

NCAA soccer referees are paid per game. There is no base salary.

College soccer referee pay starts at around $100 per game for junior colleges and tops $1,000 for the major Division I conferences such as the ACC, SEC, Big 10, and Big East.

At lower levels, referees are expected to come from the local area, and there’s no travel pay. The major conferences generally cover flights, hotels, and per diem.

What are the requirements to be a college referee?

College referee assignors and associations generally only recruit experienced referees. If you’re just starting as a referee, you’ll need to work your way up through the youth and amateur levels.

The major college referee groups include Elite College Soccer Referees and National Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Association. Some smaller conferences use local or regional groups or independent assignors.

The process to get on NCAA soccer referee lists varies widely. The larger groups require you to attend camps and to be evaluated by their assessors (at your expense). Other groups will add you to their list if they’ve seen you doing other games.

The best way to get on the radar is usually attending large showcase tournaments.

Is becoming a college soccer referee worth it?

The college referee fees look good by the game, but they’re not so great when you start adding up the hours and expenses. Soccer referees also pay extra taxes as independent contractors.

Each game is usually a full-day commitment. Even if you’re not traveling, most assignors don’t want you doing other games that day.

The bigger conferences can be a 2-3 day commitment with travel. There are also substantial non-game commitments including camps, meetings, and training.

Don’t forget conflicts with your main job as well.

The entry costs are also fairly high. It can take hundreds of dollars (more depending on where you live) to pay membership and clinic fees, pay evaluators, and attend youth showcases where you’re lucky if you make back your expenses. Even after that, there are no guarantees.

At the more local levels, referees have to pay membership dues and buy one to three sets (3-5 shirts, shorts, and socks) of college referee uniforms. Pay isn’t much better than amateur or college games, and you might get about 10 games in a season.

Most soccer referees earn enough to break even and not much more than that.

In addition, college soccer is often going on at the same time as the peak season for youth soccer tournaments where you can get paid $300+ per day.

There are a few regions, mainly in the northeast and California, where qualified referees are able to regularly get 2, 3, or even 4 games during the week and make college soccer the majority of their income. Most of the time, college soccer isn’t financially worth it compared to working as a referee at the lower levels or doing other side hustles.

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