Prospective Officials FAQ

Interested in becoming a USA Hockey certified official? We’d love for you to join the hardest working team on the ice! Below are the top 6 most common questions we receive each year from prospective individuals.

Is there a minimum age an individual must be to become certified as an official?

In order to comply with Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 149, Sections 54 – 105, all officials must reach the age of 14 prior to being allowed to officiate USA Hockey games within the Massachusetts District

What expenses will I incur getting started?

The USA Hockey registration fee for Level 1 officials is $55.00 (plus the affiliate fee TBD for 24/25). Officials registration is separate from players/coaches so make sure you can attend a seminar before registering. Consider the fact the official will need a black helmet (no team logos) with half visor, sweater, referee pants, whistle(s), etc. Just like with players and coaches, registration must be completed every year to be eligible to continue officiating games.

How much of a time commitment will I need to put in?

From what we’ve experienced over the years, this is the factor that is the most overlooked by either new officials or their guardians. In addition to the registration requirements, USA Hockey expects all referees to stay current with all playing rules, policies, and local procedures. Parents of underaged officials who do not possess a driver’s license, need to be aware that their son or daughter will need to be timely transported to and from all necessary USA Hockey registration requirements and future game assignments.

What can I expect in my first year?

Ideally, brand new level 1 referees will begin officiating cross ice games to make them feel as comfortable and supported as possible. We’ve found these low pressure opportunities to be one of the best at developing confidence and long term success. It is extremely important to let you assignor know that you are a new a official so that they can schedule you appropriately with an experienced official at an appropriate level. Progression to higher level assignments takes place differently from one referee to another. While this is stated at all of our seminars, we feel like realistic expectations cannot be stressed enough. Keep in mind that many opportunities and games for new officials occur on the weekends, during the hockey season, when that official may be playing in contests of their own. Practice, tournaments, various sport activities, family obligations, vacations, schoolwork, and personal duties are just some of the constraints underaged officials face. Availability plays a huge part in the short and long term success, along with how fun this activity is for the official. If he or she is uninterested, overloaded, or simply not enjoying being a referee, the experience will likely not be positive.

What does the scheduling process look like? How do I get paid?

Massachusetts has numerous assignors, all whom are listed on our website. A majority of the assignors have their specific method of assigning games. Once you receive your crest and card, reach out to the assignor(s) that you would like to work for and they will explain their specific process. The payment process is also unique to the specific assignor. Much of the assigning process is done on a personal level, and all officials must advocate for themselves.

Finally, the officials who receive the most game assignments are those who have become a “low maintenance official.” These are the officials who are available to work when and where the most games are being played. They have the knowledge, experience, and skill (both mental and physical) to create a fair, fun, and safe environment on the ice. The low maintenance official is not ego driven or feels that they are entitled to games just because they completed registration, work a certain league, or attained a high certification level. They give their best effort in all assignments. These officials are also willing to work at all levels and give back to the new generation of referee’s that enter each season.