How do I become a referee?
Throughout the year the State Referee Committee (SRC) and referees from around the area are asked the question, “How do I become a referee?” The answer is simple, you need to obtain your background clearances, complete a safe-sport training, complete the online modules for New Grassroots Referee Course and attend an in-person session.. This program costs approximately $100. You will also need to pay for background clearances (~$44) and uniform kit (costs vary).
The Grassroots Referee Program requires you to be 14 years old or older, on or before you register to complete the modules. This requirement exists due to the Commonwealth of PA’s Child Labor Laws. We’re sorry, but it is not negotiable or subject to exceptions. Our system will not let you register if you are not 14 or older. Please remember that referees’ integrity is their word, so do not falsify your birth date.
Playing experience is desired, but not required. You will have a better chance of successful completion with a good understanding of the game.
I am still in secondary school; do I need a Work Permit?
Yes, if you are 14-17 and still in secondary/high school you will need to get a Work Permit. You will get this at your school guidance office and mail a copy to WPA SRC New Referee c/o Peggy Neason, 82 Lookout Ave, Monongahela, PA 15063.
Western PA Referee Security Clearances (formerly PA West Referee Security Clearances)
The clearances described below are not required to sign up for or take a new referee class. They are however required before you can officiate your first match.
We have moved from the PA West system to our own. The new system is managed by Game Officials. You can reach the site at: https://wparefs.gameofficials.net.
Before you recertify, or certify for the first time, you need to have sent your 3 security clearances and a copy of the Safe Sport certificate (along with a self addressed stamped envelope to receive your badge), and possibly a work permit (if you are 14 – 17 and still in school you will need a work permit), to Peggy Neason (SRA). Please use the following as process flow:
State Law Change Affects all:
The PA Child Protective Services Law changed effective January 1, 2015. The change no longer permits organizations like Western PA Referees to conduct background checks through a third party provider. All background checks must be completed using the provider designated by PA per the requirements of the law. All referees, assignors, assessors, and instructors must send a copy of their clearances to Peggy Neason (SRA) at 82 Lookout Ave., Monongahela, PA 15063. Having them uploaded in the PA West system is not enough.
A self addressed stamped envelope is required to received your badge, please include when mailing your background checks.
Individuals who are paid to oversee children/have direct contact with children must provide the following three items:
- 1.PA State Police Criminal Record Check (PATCH)
- 2.PA Child Abuse History Clearance
- 3.FBI Criminal Background Check
- 4.Safe Sport Training
Please Note: The law provides that the FBI Criminal Background Check may be replaced for minor children (referees who are and will be 14-17 years old for the year) by a signed (by parent or guardian) and notarized affidavit attesting that the child has not committed any of the disqualifying crimes. If you are turning 18 years of age in 2021 you will need a FBI Clearance.
How do I obtain my Background Clearances?
1. PA State Police Criminal Record Check (PATCH)
- This background check may be completed online at https://epatch.state.pa.us/.
- The PATCH background check costs approximately $22 and requires a credit card for processing.
- Select “Submit a New Record Check” and accept the Terms and Conditions
- Select Reason for a Request as “Employment” and complete the steps in the process.
- The results for this check are generally returned immediately upon application through the internet. Save a copy of this clearance on your computer and print a copy to be mailed.
2. PA Child Abuse History Clearance through the PA Department of Human Services
- The Child Abuse background check costs approximately $8 and requires a credit card for processing.
- This background check may be completed online at https://www.compass.state.pa.us/cwis/public/home.
- If you do not have an individual account, Select “Create Individual Account” then “Next” and create a Keystone ID to create your profile.
- The results for this check are generally returned within a few minutes or a few days.
- If you receive it online, save a copy of this clearance on your computer and print a copy to be mailed.
- If you receive your clearance via the mail, make a copy to be mailed. Keep your original.
3. FBI Criminal Background Check
- If you are 14-17 years old and not turning 18 this year, you should instead have your parent or guardian complete and then get notarized the Minor Child Qualification Affidavit.
- This affidavit must be notarized and attests that you have not committed any of the disqualifying crimes per Act 153.
- If you are 18 or older or will turn 18 this year, you must obtain a FBI Criminal History Report.
- Once you reach 18 years of age, you will need to get the FBI Criminal History Report.
- The FBI background check costs approximately $22.60 and requires a credit card for processing.
- This background check may be begun online at
- This link will take you to the page managed by IdentoGO for the state of PA to help individuals attain an FBI clearance.
- The Department of Human Services link is your preferable option if you just referee Saturday/Sunday community club/classic games. SERVICE CODE 1KG756
- If you referee high school/PIAA as well, please use the Department of Education version (you may need to affiliate with a school). Otherwise, the PIAA will not accept it. You will need SERVICE CODE 1KG6XN
- This background check will require you to go to a fingerprinting location in PA. Locate a fingerprint location from the web site, and take the confirmation page with you. The fingerprint scan will generally take 10-15 minutes.
- The results of this check are generally returned within 4 to 10 weeks after your fingerprints have been taken.
- When you receive your clearance via the mail, make a copy to be mailed. Keep your original.
Your background certifications under Act 153 are valid for sixty (60) months or five (5) years. Once you have all three clearances (or the two clearances and your notarized minor affidavit), mail those copies to: WPA SRC New Referee c/o Peggy Neason, 82 Lookout Ave, Monongahela, PA 15063. We cannot accept emails of clearance documents.
4. Safe-Sport Training
USSF has required that everyone 18 and older to gets Safe-Sport training. Once your have completed this training , send copy of certificate to Peggy Neason.
Please navigate to the following web address to complete your Safe Sport Training. The access code can be used to access the training at zero cost. Please be sure to add ‘U.S. Soccer’ to your membership profile upon registration of an account:
Access Code: YC3E-6P5G-YYIL-CS2M
Completing the Online Modules for New Referees
The clearances described above are not required to sign up for or take a new referee class. They are however required before you can officiate your first match.
The online course modules and exam will take you approximately 4-6 total hours which can be completed over multiple sessions. Your progress will be saved as you take the course, and you can leave and return to this online course at any time. ALL online materials AND the test MUST be completed before attending in-person sessions. ALL Online materials AND the test MUST be completed before attending in-person sessions.
You must create an account on Game Officials at https://wparefs.gameofficials.net/ and then register for a course. Be sure to list an active email address as your instructor will communicate with you using the email address you list.
Once accessing the site, you will choose “New User?” and follow the instructions to create a new user account, user name and password.
To register for a course,
1. Go to the Main Menu
3.On the next screen, select “Referee Courses”
4.You will see a series of courses offered. Do not choose a course with a little lock symbol beside the course number. The little lock means the course is full.
5.You will be asked to enter information, if you did not complete your personal information when you first logged in.
6.Please put the club you want to ref for under “Home Association”. This will enable your assignor to find you.
7. This program costs approximately $100 and will be required before attending in-person training. NO PAYMENT will be accepted at the time of in-person training. You may pay by credit card or check. There is a drop down box to choose payment method (the default is credit card). If you wish to instead pay by check, please mail a check payable to WPA State Referee Committee. The check should be mailed to: WPA SRC New Referee c/o Peggy Neason, 82 Lookout Ave, Monongahela, PA 15063.
Please complete all of the information and remember to double check all of your contact information (address, phone numbers and email address(s)) and to designate a Home Association (typically your home PAWest soccer club). Your email address is what we will use to correspond with you for your clinic and additional notifications as a referee.
I’m registered for a course, What’s Next?
After you have registered for a Grassroots Referee course, your real work begins. You must successfully complete a number of online sessions of Law videos and review questions. These modules and your test will take several hours and must be completed by before your in-person clinic.. You must complete the test with a score of 70 or better to pass the course. If you do not complete the online training portion, you will lose your registration fee.
If you are having trouble passing the test, please try the following:
- Login and go to: “Confirmed Registrations”
- Click on your course number “xxxxx”
- Click on ‘Load Session Tracker”
- Click on “Session 19 – Grade 8 Test Online”
- Click on “Review” Attempt X – NOT Start New Session
- Click on the Number “YY” – it will show the questions you missed. You can then go back and look at those slides.
Upon successful completion of the online session you will attend an on-site clinic hosted by a local Association. The on-site session includes up to 5 hours of classroom instruction, a field session where you must demonstrate the lessons learned from the online modules and the classroom. Please bring a notebook/pad, pencil, eraser and drink/snack with you, along with a great attitude!
Attending an in-person field session / Payment
ALL Online materials AND the test MUST be completed before attending in-person sessions.
- https://wparefs.gameofficials.net. These will begin in late winter or early spring (depending on the COVID-19 pandemic), hopefully before the playing season.
- In-person instruction sessions will consist of referee mechanics, communication tactics, positioning, game scenarios, and much more. The session will last 4-5 hours.
- This program costs approximately $100 and will be required before attending in-person training. NO PAYMENT will be accepted at the time of in-person training.
At the completion of the program, you will receive your United States Soccer Federation (USSF) Referee badge and you will be registered with Western PA Referees and the USSF as a Grassroots Referee. As a Grassroots Referee you will be allowed to referee youth recreational (i.e. In-House) and competitive (i.e. Sunday Travel and Classic Club) matches. Your contact information will be shared with the referee assignor for your Home Association club, though we encourage you to contact them directly to get scheduled for matches.
How do I find out who my local assignors are?
You can visit this page to find assignors for various soccer clubs and leagues. Contact them directly in order to be assigned to matches.
What uniform/kit do I need?
All Western PA referees are expected to act and to look professional. You will need to obtain a referee uniform and should begin with a yellow USSF shirt, all-black shorts, two-striped black socks and black shoes (do not have to be turf or cleated, that’s your decision). You will need a watch with count-down/up timer, whistle and yellow/red card wallet. As you complete matches, you can add to your kit (flags, additional shirts and other accessories). There are a number of local and national vendors, here are two, http://www.officialsports.com/ and http://www.officiallysports.com. We suggest talking with your local club and assignor for additional advice in getting started.
Our Web Site
You should bookmark this page and watch it frequently for updates from the State Referee Committee on topics, events and more information!
In addition, this is the site where you will enter your Game Reports for injuries, cautions and send-offs (i.e. yellow and red cards) or other match-related incidents (referee abuse, weather situations, etc.).
Can I get a Course Refund?
All clinics and courses conducted by the PAWest Referee Committee that require payment are subject to the following:
- All fees must be paid in full before attendance.
- By confirming your seat at a re-certification or entry level class you are agreeing to the following cancellation and refund policy:
|10 days prior||Course fee minus $15 administration charge|
|Less than 10 days prior||No Refund|
|Failure to attend||No Refund|
- Stated date of course determines refund days.
- All written cancellation requests must be sent to the State Director of Instruction (SDI) at email@example.com
- Transferring to another course: Subject to availability, you may transfer to another course any time before the course start date. To request a transfer, email the SDI.
- In the event the course is cancelled, a full refund will be given.
- Refunds will be issued when all courses are completed.
What about next year?
Referees must take a recertification exam every year. This fall, you will receive information via email informing you to log into the Game Officials site in order to complete your referee recertification. Recertification is an annual process by which you will register for the upcoming year, pay a recertification fee (usually around $50), and complete a recertification test (online) in order to receive your USSF badge and book for the next calendar year.
If I have other questions, who can I ask?
You can always email the State Referee Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here to help you. And, as always, check out the rest of our website for articles and other information.