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How To Become An Nfl Referee?

Written by:
Reviewed by: Sara Madsen
How To Become An Nfl Referee?

Imagine being the one making the final call in one of the most exciting and high-stakes sports in the world. The National Football League (NFL) is a game of inches, and the officials on the field are just as critical to the outcome as the players. If you’re passionate about football, have a deep understanding of the game, and are looking for a career in sports, then becoming an NFL referee could be the perfect fit. In this article, we’ll take you through the steps on how to become an NFL referee, what qualifications you need, and what you can expect from the job. So, let’s dive in and explore this exciting career opportunity.

1. Understand the Role and Responsibilities of an NFL Referee

Key Roles and Responsibilities of an NFL Referee

As a vital part of the game, NFL referees perform several critical roles and responsibilities. Here are some of the significant responsibilities of NFL referees:

Enforce Rules and Regulations: One of the primary roles of NFL referees is to ensure that all players comply with the league’s rules and regulations. The referees must apply the rules consistently and fairly to maintain the integrity of the game.

Control the Game: The NFL referees are responsible for enforcing penalties, managing the game clock, and determining the outcome of a play or game. They must make swift and accurate judgment calls to mitigate the risk of injuries and protect the safety of players.

Manage Communication: NFL referees must have excellent communication skills to manage interactions between players, coaches, and officials. They must be able to explain their decisions clearly and concisely, while also maintaining professionalism and impartiality.

In summary, NFL referees play a significant role in ensuring fair and safe competition. Their duties include enforcing rules and regulations, controlling the game, and managing communication between players and officials. With their expertise and experience, NFL referees often remain unnoticed, but their contributions are critical to the success of every game.

2. Learn the Requirements and Qualifications

Understand the Requirements and Qualifications

Before applying for any job, it is important to understand the requirements and qualifications needed for the position. This will help you determine if you are the right fit for the job and if it aligns with your career goals. Here are some essential things to consider when learning about the requirements and qualifications for a specific job:

  • The necessary education level and degree requirements
  • The minimum years of experience needed for the position
  • The technical skills needed for the job, including proficiency in specific software or systems
  • Any certifications or licenses required for the role
  • The personal skills and qualities needed to succeed in the position, such as strong communication skills or leadership abilities

It’s important to carefully review these requirements and qualifications before applying for the job. Be sure to also read through the entire job description to ensure you understand what the role entails and what tasks and responsibilities it includes. This will help you determine if you possess the skills, experience and qualifications that are required and if the position will be a good fit for your career goals.

Remember that meeting the minimum qualifications for a job is just the baseline. The most successful professionals go above and beyond the basic requirements and qualifications. They continually develop their skills and knowledge, seek out new learning opportunities, and are motivated to achieve their full potential. Keep this in mind as you consider job opportunities and work towards your career goals.

3. Get Knowledgeable About Football Rules and Regulations

Understand the Gameplay of Football

Football is a sport where two teams of eleven players each try to outscore each other by advancing the ball into the opposing team’s end zone. The game primarily involves players using their feet or legs to kick the ball but also includes the use of the torso and head to control and maneuver the ball. The aim of the game is to either score a touchdown by carrying the ball into the endzone, kick a field goal between the opposing team’s posts or by tackling the opposing team’s ball carrier within their end zone.

Kickoff and Game Duration Rules

A game of football begins with a kickoff, where one team kicks the ball to the opposing team in an attempt to start the game. In regular play, the game is divided into four quarters, each lasting 15 minutes. Halftime typically lasts for 10-15 minutes, depending on the level of play. If the game is tied at the end of regulation time, overtime periods may be added to determine the winner, depending on the rules of the league or competition.

Penalties and Rules of Conduct

Football involves numerous rules and regulations, and penalties are imposed on offending teams and players who violate them. Some of the most common penalties include holding, interference, and offsides, and each has a specific punishment. Rules of conduct govern player behavior and prohibit unsportsmanlike behavior, such as taunting, excessive celebrating, and giving the opposing team’s players injury-causing hits. Each league or competition has its own rules and regulations, and it’s essential to familiarize yourself with them.

4. Build Experience and Network Through Officiating Work

Gain Valuable Experience and Expand Your Network Through Officiating Work

Officiating work isn’t just a way to earn extra money or gain volunteer hours. It’s also a fantastic way to build your experience and widen your network in the sports community. Whether you’re interested in becoming a coach, athletic director, or even a professional athlete, officiating work can offer valuable experience and connections that can help you achieve your goals.

Here are some key benefits to building experience and network through officiating work:

– **Develop a deeper understanding of the sport:** As an official, you’ll gain a unique perspective on the sport you’re officiating. This firsthand experience can help you develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for the game and its rules.

– **Opportunities for growth and advancement:** Officiating work often presents opportunities for advancement within local or regional officiating associations. This can lead to more complex assignments or the ability to work higher-level games, offering you the chance to hone your skills and build your resume.

– **Connect with others in the sports community:** Whether you’re working with other officials, coaches, or players, officiating work allows you to connect with people who share your passion for the sport. Building these relationships can lead to new opportunities and connections within the sports community.

Overall, officiating work can be a valuable way to build experience and expand your network within the sports community. So if you’re interested in pursuing a career in sports or just looking to get more involved, consider taking on officiating work to help you achieve your goals.

5. Apply for NFL Referee Training and Development Programs

If you’re interested in becoming an NFL referee, there are a variety of training and development programs available to help you reach your goals. These programs are designed to provide aspiring referees with the knowledge, skills, and experience needed to succeed in this challenging and rewarding field. Below are some of the ways you can apply for these programs:

1. Attend an NFL Officiating Clinic: The NFL hosts a series of officiating clinics across the country each year. These clinics are open to anyone interested in becoming an NFL official, and they provide a great opportunity to learn more about the requirements and expectations of the job. In addition, attending one of these clinics can help you get noticed by NFL officials who may be looking for new recruits.

2. Apply for the NFL Officiating Development Program: This program is designed to help promising officials gain the skills and experience needed to move up to the next level of officiating. Participants in this program receive training and mentoring from experienced NFL officials, and they may also have the opportunity to work NFL games as part of their development.

3. Participate in Local Officiating Programs: Many local organizations offer officiating programs for high school and youth sports leagues. Participating in one of these programs can provide you with valuable experience and help you develop your skills as an official. In addition, local officials may be able to provide you with information and guidance on the steps you need to take to become an NFL referee.

By participating in these and other training and development programs, you can take the first steps toward a rewarding career as an NFL official. Whether you’re just starting out or you have years of experience under your belt, there’s always something new to learn and ways to improve your skills as a referee. So take advantage of these opportunities, and see where your passion for officiating can take you.

6. Prepare for NFL Referee Tryouts and Evaluations

Get in Shape

Being an NFL referee requires a certain level of physical fitness, as the job can be physically demanding. In order to prepare for tryouts and evaluations, it’s important to start a regular exercise routine. Aim to do cardio exercises like running, cycling, or swimming for at least 30 minutes a day, three to four times a week. In addition, incorporate strength training into your routine to build endurance and muscular endurance. Consult a personal trainer or coach for a personalized workout plan.

Study the Rule Book

Aspiring NFL referees must know the rule book inside and out. If you haven’t already, obtain a copy of the NFL rule book and start studying. Familiarize yourself with common penalties and infractions, as well as less common circumstances that may arise during a game. In addition, watch game tapes and observe how referees handle different situations.

Practice Your Communication Skills

Strong communication skills are a vital part of being an NFL referee. Referees must communicate clearly and effectively with players, coaches, and other officials. Take the time to practice your communication skills by participating in public speaking events or joining a debate club. When you practice, focus on delivering clear and concise messages that will be easily understood in a high-pressure situation.

7. Keep Refining Your Skills and Stay Updated on Officiating News and Trends

Staying updated on officiating news and trends is a crucial aspect of enhancing your skills as an official. With the constantly evolving rules, regulations, and technologies of various sports, it is essential to keep refining your skills and knowledge to stay ahead in the game. Here are some tips to help you keep up-to-date on officiating news and trends:

– Attend clinics and workshops: Attending regular clinics and workshops is an excellent way to stay updated on new rules and trends in officiating. These programs provide a platform for officials to interact and learn from experienced mentors, referees, and umpires. You can attend in-person or virtual clinics to learn about new trends and techniques in officiating.

– Join officiating associations: Joining a refereeing association is an excellent way to stay informed about officiating news and trends. These associations provide resources and opportunities to interact with fellow officials, participate in training programs, and attend conferences. You can also volunteer to officiate at local community games to gain practical experience.

– Follow sports media and officials’ blogs: Following sports media outlets and officials’ blogs is an easy and convenient way to stay updated on officiating news and trends. These platforms provide regular updates on rules changes, referee interpretations, and new trends in various sports. You can also follow social media pages of reputed sports organizations and officials to stay informed.

In conclusion, the key to being an exceptional official is to keep refining your skills and knowledge continually. Staying updated on officiating news and trends is a must-do if you want to stand out in your field. So, attend clinics, join associations, and follow sports media and officials’ blogs to stay ahead in the game.

People Also Ask

What are the education and experience requirements to become an NFL referee?

Education and experience requirements to become an NFL referee include having a minimum of a high school diploma or equivalent, several years of officiating experience at lower levels, attending a referee training program, and passing an exam.

What skills are necessary to become an NFL referee?

The skills necessary to become an NFL referee include having strong communication skills, being able to make quick decisions under pressure, having knowledge of the rules of the game, and physical fitness.

How do you get hired as an NFL referee?

To get hired as an NFL referee, one must submit an application online during the league’s annual hiring period, pass a background check, attend a training program, and perform well in on-field evaluations.

What is the average salary of an NFL referee?

The average salary for an NFL referee is not disclosed by the league. However, experienced referees can earn up to $250,000 per season.

How long does it take to become an NFL referee?

Becoming an NFL referee takes several years of experience at lower levels, attending a training program, and passing an exam. The process typically takes around 5-10 years.


Becoming an NFL referee requires years of experience and training, as well as passing a rigorous selection process. While the salary is not disclosed, experienced referees can earn a substantial income. It’s important to possess strong communication skills, rule knowledge, and physical fitness to succeed in a difficult and rewarding career.

Brenda Block

Brenda Block

Freelance Journalist/Editor
I navigate the bustling world as a freelance journalist with an insatiable curiosity for uncovering stories that resonate. With my background in communication and a keen eye for detail, I specialize in reporting on local events, health, and environmental issues. Passionate about storytelling, I am devoted to bringing to light the diverse voices and narratives that shape the vibrant community here at Dude Ask website. In addition to my journalistic endeavors, I also serve as an editor, meticulously refining content and overseeing the editorial process to ensure the highest quality standards are met. This role has honed my ability to collaborate effectively with writers, offering guidance and feedback to enhance their work while maintaining the integrity of their unique perspectives. Outside of my professional pursuits, I'm an avid reader and explorer of my city's hidden gems, constantly seeking inspiration for my next article or adventure.

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