Become a Referee

Note: school grades are not the same as referee grades! Grade 9 is the entry-level referee grade unless you are 16 years of age or older. Read below for more.

Rhode Island offers an entry-level program for individuals interested in becoming a referee. No prior experience is required, however, you will have a better chance of successful completion with a basic understanding of the game. Entry-level referees will start as a Grade 9 Referee and will be taught a basic understanding of the Laws of Games adequate for officiating at the recreational level.

Grade 9 Referees are authorized to officiate youth recreational (aka “house league”) matches in any age division. In addition, grade 9 referees are permitted to be referee in small-sided competitive matches up to the U12 division. Assignment is not strictly limited to those matches; if the need arises, assignors may assign a Grade 9 Referee to a higher level match to fill an assignment or to provide a slightly higher level of difficulty to an official looking to upgrade.

Grade 8: After working at least 5 sixty minute games as Referee in competitive matches or attaining age 16, a Grade 9 referee may choose to upgrade to a Grade 8 Referee by taking the Grade 8 class. Referees who are at least 16 years old may choose to certify for the first time as a Grade 8 Referee. Grade 8 Referees are eligible to officiate all levels of youth soccer in the state, including premier leagues. The Grade 8 class expands upon the content covered in the Grade 9 class and provides a more detailed understanding of the Laws of the Game, with specific focus on Offside, Fouls, and Misconduct. The class will prepare the student for the Grade 8 Referee Exam.

Grade 7 referees are authorized to officiate adult amateur matches as well as youth matches. Referees that have worked at least 5 eighty minute games as Referee in competitive matches may certify at Grade 7 upon completion of the grade 7 course.

Grade Prerequisite
9 None
8 Age 16 or 5 sixty minute games as Referee
7 5 eighty minute games as Referee

Grade 9: Referee

Note: Grade 9 classes require completion of an online training course prior to attending. Registration will close 1 week prior to the course start in order to allow for sufficient time to complete online learning. The online training can be completed at your own pace as soon as you register for the class.

Referee Uniforms:The online pre-registration fee includes the cost of a uniform which will issued during the on-field clinic. However, if you register within 2 weeks of the on-field clinic, you may need to pick up your uniform at a later date from the state office in Cranston.

There is no set minimum age for Grade 9 Referees, however, some associations have a minimum age for assignment. Please check with your local association.

Certification Process
The USSF Grade 9 Referee Course is the entry level referee course. It is designed for individuals under age 16. You must complete all aspects of this course and it consists of four distinct steps:

All online coursework can be found in GameOfficials. Upon registration, you will need to press the “Load Session Tracker” button in order to access the online training.

  1. We advise the referee’s parent(s) to watch the first module, “Parenting a Referee”, with the referee, followed by a few questions. The content in the video is to help parents understand the responsibility the younger referee is taking on.
  2. The referee completes the remaining online Grade 9 Referee training modules. You must score 100 on the questions that follow each module before you can advance to the next one. You may watch each one up to 99 times before we have to reset it. You can complete the online training at your own pace and close it out and return as often as you like. There are 8 modules (including the parent video) and they run from 4 minutes to 24 minutes in length. Once you have completed the modules, you’re ready for the field session!
  3. Attend the four hour on-field training at the time and location you registered for. The online modules in Part 1 MUST BE COMPLETED IN ADVANCE!  Please wear shorts and soccer shoes and be prepared to run; we will be refereeing mock games. Uniforms and other referee items will be distributed at the beginning of the field session. Flags and whistles will be used in the course; if you already have these, bring them with you. Otherwise, flags, watches, whistles and other referee items will be available for purchase. Space is limited; once a class is full, no additional candidates may register.
  4. Complete the online test. You will not be able to access the test until you complete the on field training. You can complete it at home at your own pace (no time limit) and it is open book. You will have one week to complete the exam from the date of your on field session. Once you have passed the exam, you will need to complete a final online module which explains how to get started and find an assignor so you can work games!


Grade 8: Referee

Note: Grade 8 classes require completion of an online training course prior to attending, which is expected to take 3-5 hours to complete. As a result, registration for these classes will close two days prior to the class. Instructions for completing the online training will be sent by email prior to the clinic. In order to take the Grade 8 class, you must be at least 16 years or have 5 games of prior experience as a Referee at the U12 level. We strongly encourage individuals that are at least 16 years old to start at Grade 8.

Good Luck!