Top 10 Side Jobs – #8: Sports Referee

Welcome to a new ten part series at the Outlier Model on the Top 10 Side Jobs available to the average person.  Please check out our intro post and tune in every Wednesday as we count down to #1!

Coming in at #8 on our list of Top 10 Side Jobs – sports referee!  Now, I’m not suggesting that you go out and become the next head ref wearing the steps out on the ice of an NHL game.  Far from it! But in every city, there are many, many recreational league year round for all types of sports – hockey, soccer and volleyball are common in Vancouver.  And since grown adults can’t be expected to play nice 100% of the time, we need refs!

Photo Credit: via Flickr

Photo Credit: via Flickr

Sport Referee

Being a referee usually involves a very small (if any) commitment to being trained. It leverages your knowledge and presumed passion for sport and turns it into cold hard cash. Sounds like a great deal, right? Turning something you like into something that makes you money is a great way to get ahead. Brian did it for years at the wine store, and he was a soccer referee back in high school.

Skills Required for Being a Referee

Basic knowledge of your chosen sport is usually a good starting point, but not always necessary. Depending on the level of competition that you’re officiating, there will be a wide range of technical requirements. Often the sports associations in your area will offer clinics if you’re looking to learn the skills necessary to be a higher level referee – higher level equals greater earning potentials! Being a referee isn’t always the easiest job. Being able to take criticism (warranted or not!) is a must.

Pros of Being a Referee

It’s hard to find a part time job that pays so well. When Brian told me the referees that work his weekend soccer league make $70 per game, I was pretty impressed. If you are able to work 3-4 games a weekend, that’s $280 for 8 hours of work, minus travel time. You also get the added benefit of exercise if you’re doing a sport like soccer. On a nice sunny day, you can’t ask for much more than that.

Cons of Being a Referee

Let’s face it, referees are some of the most hated icons in sport. Depending how seriously the participants (and sometimes parents…) take the league, you could be signing up for what amounts to verbal abuse. If you’re working an outdoor sport, there is also the weather to account for. Winter soccer is often a cold and wet affair in Vancouver.


I would say that being a sports referee is worth the time investment. You get exercise, enjoyment for being around the sport and good practice being assertive with the tough critics. I call that a win!

Miss the first two side jobs?

#10 – Mystery Shopping

#9 – Special Events Customer Service

Posted in: Career and Work

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