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Football referee

Football referees take charge of matches and make sure players compete within the rules of the game.

Annual Salary


Average UK salary in 2022 was £33,200
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

36 to 38 variable

You could work: evenings / weekends / bank holidays; flexibly

Future employment

There will be 0.5% more Football referee jobs in 2027.

Day to day tasks

As a referee, you could:

  • meet with team managers and brief your assistants before a game
  • inspect the pitch, markings and equipment prior to kick off
  • manage the game, make decisions and check rulings made by assistants
  • deal with inappropriate behaviour and language on and off the pitch
  • stop the game when player safety is at risk, for example a head injury
  • produce a match report after a game, highlighting any incidents

Working environment

You may need to wear a uniform.

You could work on a sports field.

Your working environment may be physically demanding, outdoors in all weathers and you'll travel often.

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 FA and complete the FA Referee Course.

The course is a mix of online and face-to-face training. You must finish 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
  • dealing with with restarts and set pieces

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

To qualify, you must 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 to higher levels as your experience grows. You can do further training with the FA to help you advance in both the men's and women's game.

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

More information

Professional and industry bodies

You can join the The Referees' Association for support and professional development.

Further information

You can find out how to become a referee from England Football and the Amateur FA.

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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.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to use your judgement and make decisions
  • the ability to work well with others
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • the ability to think clearly using logic and reasoning
  • concentration skills
  • ambition and a desire to succeed
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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