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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, attend and successfully complete a referee training program. This program costs approximately $100. You will also need to pay for background clearances (~$44) and uniform kit (costs vary).

The Grade 8 (not high school grade) Basic Referee Program requires you to be 14 years old or older, on or before the start date of the clinic. 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.

What Background Clearances do I need?

Before registering for an entry-level referee course, you must obtain your background clearances. The PA Child Protective Services Law (Act 153) changed effective January 1, 2015. The change no longer permits organizations like Western PA Referees to conduct background checks through a third party provider. We understand that minors (14-17) who want to become referees that this may seem counterintuitive; however, the Law specifically requires these clearances. Our associations are lobbying with the State and the Governor for future changes in the Act.

All background checks must be completed using the provider designated by the Commonwealth per the requirements of the law. More details and web links are provided at the end of this document for obtaining these clearances.

Individuals who are paid to oversee children/have direct contact with children must provide all of the following clearances:

  • PA State Police Criminal Record Check (PATCH)
  • PA Child Abuse History Clearance
  • FBI Criminal Background Check

Please Note: The exception to the law provides minor children who are referees (14-17 year old) may have their parent/guardian attest via notarized affidavit that the child has not committed any of the disqualifying crimes. However, if you are turning 18 years of age during the year, you will need to submit your FBI Clearance.

How do I obtain my Background Clearances?

PA State Police Criminal Record Check (PATCH)

The PATCH background check costs approximately $8 and requires a credit card for processing. This background check may be completed online at

  1. Select “Submit a New Record Check” and accept the Terms and Conditions
  2. 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.

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 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.

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 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 to 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 $27.50 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 Cogent 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 USSF. If you referee high school/PIAA as well, please use the Department of Education version (you will need to affiliate with a school). Otherwise, the PIAA will not accept it.

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.

Registering for a Clinic

Clinics are requested by the PAWest soccer clubs and associations several weeks to a month or more in advance. Most of the clinics occur late January through early March. Occasionally, a clinic may be offered in July or August, but not every year. A link to the current list of available clinics can be found on the Events page. Keep in mind that the list is being updated constantly, so keep checking back if you are looking for a particular location.

In order to register for a clinic, you will go to our referee registration application using Game Officials, 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 your clinic,

  1. Go to the Main Menu
  2. Select “Courses”
  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. 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 Clinic, What’s Next?

After you have registered for a Grade 8 clinic, your real work begins. You must successfully complete a number of online sessions of Law videos and review questions. These modules and you test will take several hours and they must be completed at least one week before your on-site clinic, so plan accordingly. 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:

  1. Login and go to: “Confirmed Registrations”
  2. Click on your course number “xxxxx”
  3. Click on ‘Load Session Tracker”
  4. Click on “Session 19 – Grade 8 Test Online”
  5. Click on “Review” Attempt X – NOT Start New Session
  6. 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!

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 Grade 8 Referee. As a Grade 8 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, three-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, and We suggest talking with your local club and assignor for additional advice in getting started.