Becoming a hockey referee is a great choice for hockey fans who want to make some extra cash, and experience the game from a brand new perspective. But… How old do you have to be to become a hockey referee? This article delves into the age requirements and other aspects of becoming a hockey referee across various levels of the game.


Age Requirements at Different Levels

1. Youth and Amateur Hockey

The journey to becoming a hockey referee often starts at the youth or amateur level. In many regions, the minimum age requirement to start officiating in these leagues is typically around 12 to 14 years old. This early start allows young referees to gain experience in a less intense environment, officiating games for their peers or younger players.

2. High School Hockey

For high school hockey, the minimum age requirements can vary by state or region but generally ranges from 15 to 18 years. High school leagues often require referees to be at least a few years older than the players they are officiating, ensuring a level of maturity and authority on the ice.

3. College and Semi-Professional Hockey

Moving up to college and semi-professional levels, referees are usually required to be at least 18 years old. This age requirement aligns with the maturity and experience needed to handle faster, more competitive games, and more complex rules. And considers the fact that 99% of the players at this level are over 18 as well.

4. Professional Leagues (NHL, AHL)

In professional leagues like the National Hockey League (NHL) and the American Hockey League (AHL), there is no specific age requirement. However, referees in these leagues are typically in their late 20s to early 30s when they start. This is due to the extensive experience and high level of skill required to officiate at this elite level.


Path to Becoming a Hockey Referee

Start Young: Starting at a young age in youth or amateur leagues is how every referee got their start - this is where you should start too!

Certification and Training: Most hockey leagues require referees to be certified. This process involves attending officiating clinics, passing written exams, and sometimes a physical fitness test.

Gaining Experience: Experience is crucial. Many referees spend several years officiating lower-level games before moving up to higher leagues.

Continuous Learning: The rules of hockey can be complex and are subject to change. Ongoing education and staying updated with the game's rules are essential.


Balancing Age with Skill and Experience

While age is an important factor, it's the combination of age, skill, and experience that truly makes a competent referee. Young referees start with less complex games and gradually move up as they gain experience and confidence. The progression through the ranks is as much about developing the right skills and judgment as it is about meeting age requirements. So, the earlier you start… the better!


Wrap Up

The age at which one can become a hockey referee varies depending on the level of play, with opportunities starting as early as 12 to 14 years old. Making it to the top as a referee requires dedication, continuous learning, and a passion for the game of hockey.

As you gain experience and skills, you can progress to officiating at higher levels of the sport, where the complexity, speed, and intensity of the games increase. For those passionate about hockey, becoming a referee is a fulfilling way to engage with the sport and experience it from a new perspective, while making great money at the same time.