How do I get started as a football official?

Feb 14, 2023 | Officiating

One of the most difficult hurdles to officiating football can be simply the first few steps.

And the very first step is simple: Reach out to your local football officials association.

No matter where you live in the United States (and even some other countries), there is an association that covers your geographic area, whether it’s Northwest Arkansas, rural Maine, or large cities like Denver and Miami. Some cities like Los Angeles have several different associations that cater to the area.

We have a partial list of organizations on our website, and you can always use an internet search engine to find one that’s closest to you.

Simply reach out via email to the President, Secretary or other board members and they can give you the ins and outs of what to do next. This will likely require a registration fee. These can range from about $100-$200, though some associations offer discounts for first-year officials.

After that, the process will entail a few things:

  • Purchasing a uniform, which consists of pants, shirt and a few accessories. Your association can help you navigate this. The price of a full uniform is likely to be around $200-$300, depending on what options you choose.
  • Attending classes. Learning the rules and mechanics of officiating are key, and your association will teach you these through classes.
  • Work some scrimmages. No one will put you into paid games without working at least a few scrimmages. There is no substitute for this valuable on-field volunteer experience.

You’ll likely end up working youth games, and possibly JV games, before you get varsity assignments. Some associations try to wait until your second year (or even longer) for varsity assignments, though that is dwindling as the need for officials has increased.

So if you’re interested in officiating, find your local football officials association and reach out! They’re waiting to hear from you.