Prospective Official FAQ
Interested in becoming a USA Hockey certified official here in Arizona? 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 and their guardians.
1. Is there a minimum age an individual must be to become certified as an official? While USA Hockey has no minimum or maximum age for officials, all federal, state, and local labor laws must be followed. Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 149, Sections 54 – 105, require that all officials must reach the age of 14 prior to being allowed to officiate USA Hockey games within the Massachusetts Districts. Additionally, regardless of level attained, we follow the USAH recommendation that officials not work games of their own age classification or higher. Keep in mind that, depending on how young the official is, this can limit the amount of assignments and opportunities available to them.
2. What expenses will I incur getting started? The USA Hockey registration fee for Level 1 officials is $45.00, additionally, there is a Mass Hockey Affiliate fee of $25.00 for a total of a $70.00 registration fee. 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.
3. 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 and Mass Officials expect 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. Keep in mind this also does not include any additional training or development opportunities that Mass Officials may offer throughout the year.
4. What can I expect in my first year? Most brand-new level 1 referees will begin officiating cross ice games, and/or full U10 games. All new officials should be paired with a more experienced official for their first few games; however it is incumbent on the new officials to remind the assignor that they are in fact new and need to work with a mentor. 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.
5. What is the scheduling process like? Massachusetts has a large number of assignors that work in rinks all across the state, a list of assignors is provided at the seminars so that new officials can pro-actively reach out. All assignors work a little differently, some use the phone and email, some use more sophisticated on-line scheduling systems. When speaking with an assignor, be sure to ask how they schedule games and how far out they usually schedule.
6. What can I expect to get paid and when? Unfortunately there is no one rate, all assignors negotiate rates with programs when they commit to scheduling their games. Mass Officials does have a list of state rates that should be used as a baseline, however this is not always the case. When speaking with your assignor, make sure that you understand when and how you will be paid.
The officials who work the most games are those who have become, what we like to call, a “low maintenance official.” These are 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.