Usa Hockey Level 1 Referee Pay: A Detailed Overview

If you’ve ever laced up a pair of skates and stepped out onto the ice, you may have considered becoming a hockey referee. Officiating a fast-paced, hard-hitting sport like hockey takes dedication and skill.

As a USA Hockey certified referee, you can earn money while contributing to well-played games at all levels.

As a quick answer, USA Hockey Level 1 referees typically earn $35-45 per game on average, varying by region and league competitiveness. This guide will provide a comprehensive overview of USA Hockey referee certification levels, pay rates, factors impacting pay, and tips for maximizing your earnings as an official.

In this roughly 3000 word guide, we’ll cover key details on Level 1 referee pay, including regional pay differences, pay by league and tournament type, common additional income sources for officials, and top tips from experienced referees on how to progress through officiating ranks and maximize your income over time.

USA Hockey Referee Certification Levels

Level 1

The Level 1 certification is the starting point for aspiring hockey referees in the USA. This certification equips individuals with the fundamental knowledge and skills required to officiate hockey games. Level 1 referees typically work with younger age groups and lower-level leagues.

They are responsible for ensuring fair play, enforcing rules, and maintaining a safe and enjoyable environment for players and spectators.

Level 2

Once referees have gained experience and confidence at Level 1, they can progress to Level 2 certification. Level 2 referees are typically assigned to officiate higher-level games and older age groups.

They have a deeper understanding of the rules and are expected to make more complex decisions on the ice. Level 2 referees play a crucial role in maintaining the integrity of the game and ensuring a fair competition for all teams.

Level 3

Level 3 certification is achieved by referees who have demonstrated a high level of competence and commitment to their role. These referees are often assigned to officiate at regional or state-level tournaments and may have the opportunity to work alongside more experienced officials.

Level 3 referees are expected to have a thorough understanding of the rules and be able to handle challenging situations on the ice with confidence and professionalism.

Level 4

Level 4 certification is the highest referee certification offered by USA Hockey. Referees at this level are considered experts in their field and are often assigned to officiate at national or international tournaments.

They have extensive experience and knowledge of the game and are capable of making difficult calls in high-pressure situations. Level 4 referees are highly respected within the hockey community and play a crucial role in ensuring fair play and sportsmanship at the highest level of competition.

Becoming a certified USA Hockey referee at any level requires dedication, commitment, and a passion for the game. Referees undergo training and evaluation to ensure they meet the standards set by USA Hockey.

Each level of certification represents a progression in skills and responsibilities, allowing referees to grow and develop in their officiating career.

Average Pay for Level 1 USA Hockey Referees

Base Pay Rates

The base pay rate for a Level 1 USA Hockey referee typically ranges from $25 to $40 per game depending on the region and level of play. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Youth hockey (ages 8U to 18U) – $25 to $35 per game
  • Junior hockey (Tier I/II) – $35 to $50 per game
  • Adult recreation leagues – $30 to $40 per game

Referees under 18 may receive slightly less than the rates above.

Regional Pay Differences

Pay rates for Level 1 referees can vary significantly by region. Some general trends:

  • Northeast (MA, NY, NJ area) – Highest junior hockey pay, averages $40-50 per game.
  • Midwest (MI, MN, IL) – Strong hockey culture leads to higher youth hockey pay, averages $30-40.
  • Western (CA, CO, WA) – Growing hockey interest increasing referee demand and pay.
  • Southeast (FL, GA) – Lower youth hockey participation reduces pay rates.

Junior Hockey vs. Youth Hockey Pay

Junior hockey leagues generally pay more than youth leagues for Level 1 referees. For example:

16U AAA Youth Hockey $30 per game
Tier II Junior Hockey $40 per game

The higher speeds, intensity, and scrutiny of junior hockey leads to the higher pay rates.

Tournament Pay

Tournaments often pay a daily rate for officials that covers multiple games in a day. Typical tournament pay for Level 1 referees is $125 – $175 per day. The pay increases for referees who advance to Level 2 and 3 due to the importance of these tournament games.

Factors Impacting USA Hockey Referee Pay

Several factors play a significant role in determining the pay rate for USA Hockey referees. Understanding these factors can help aspiring referees gauge their potential earnings and make informed decisions about their involvement in the sport.

The following are key factors that impact USA Hockey referee pay:

1. Experience Level

Experience level is an essential factor in determining a referee’s pay. Referees who have been officiating games for a longer time and have accumulated a wealth of knowledge and expertise tend to earn higher pay rates.

This is because experienced referees are often assigned to higher-level games and are trusted to make critical decisions effectively.

In addition, experienced referees are more likely to have established a solid reputation within the hockey community, which can lead to more opportunities and higher-paying assignments.

2. Age Group

The age group of the games being officiated also influences referee pay. Refereeing games for younger age groups, such as youth or beginner levels, typically offers lower pay rates compared to officiating higher-level games, such as college or professional leagues.

Higher-level games often involve more complex rules and faster-paced play, requiring referees to possess advanced skills and knowledge. As a result, referees who officiate at higher age groups are compensated accordingly.

3. League Competitiveness

The competitiveness of the league being officiated also affects referee pay rates. Referees who officiate in highly competitive leagues, such as national or international tournaments, tend to receive higher compensation due to the increased level of skill and intensity of the games.

These higher-level competitions often attract larger audiences and generate more revenue, allowing for better compensation for the referees involved.

4. Geographic Location

Geographic location is another factor that impacts referee pay. The cost of living and economic conditions in different regions can vary significantly. Referees in areas with a higher cost of living may receive higher pay rates to accommodate for the increased expenses.

Furthermore, certain regions may have a higher demand for referees due to the popularity of hockey in those areas. This increased demand can also lead to higher pay rates for referees.

5. Supply and Demand

The supply and demand of referees in a particular area can influence pay rates. If there is a shortage of referees in a specific region or age group, the pay rates for referees in that area may be higher to attract more officials.

Conversely, if there is an abundance of referees available, the pay rates may be lower due to the increased competition for assignments.

It is important to note that while these factors generally impact USA Hockey referee pay, specific pay rates may vary depending on various local and organizational factors. For more detailed information on referee pay rates, aspiring referees can visit the official USA Hockey website at

Additional Income Sources for USA Hockey Referees

Being a USA Hockey Level 1 referee not only provides an opportunity to be involved in the exciting world of ice hockey, but it also offers additional income sources beyond the base pay. Refereeing can be a rewarding experience both on and off the ice, and these supplementary income sources can make it even more worthwhile.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the ways USA Hockey referees can boost their earnings.

Mileage Reimbursement

One of the benefits of being a USA Hockey referee is the mileage reimbursement. Referees often travel long distances to officiate games, and USA Hockey understands the expenses that can incur. They provide a mileage reimbursement program that compensates referees for the mileage driven to and from games.

This not only helps cover the cost of gas but also acknowledges the commitment and dedication of referees who go the extra mile to ensure fair play on the ice.

Per Diem Pay

In addition to the base pay, USA Hockey Level 1 referees also receive per diem pay. This means that referees are compensated for their meals and incidental expenses while on the road for games. This additional payment helps alleviate some of the financial burdens associated with travel and ensures that referees can focus on their officiating duties without worrying about their personal expenses.

Tournament Bonuses

USA Hockey referees have the opportunity to officiate in various tournaments throughout the year. These tournaments often come with additional bonuses or incentives for the referees. Bonuses can be based on factors such as the level of the tournament, the number of games officiated, or the performance of the referee.

These tournament bonuses not only provide a financial reward but also serve as a recognition of the referees’ skills and expertise.

Camps and Training Clinics

USA Hockey offers camps and training clinics for referees to enhance their skills and knowledge. These camps and clinics are not only a great learning opportunity but also a chance to earn additional income.

Referees can receive compensation for their time spent at these events, allowing them to further develop their officiating abilities while earning extra money.

Supervising and Mentoring

Experienced referees have the opportunity to contribute to the development of future officials by becoming supervisors or mentors. These roles involve overseeing and guiding less experienced referees. In addition to the satisfaction of helping others grow in their officiating career, supervisors and mentors also receive compensation for their time and expertise.

It’s a win-win situation that benefits both the referees being mentored and the experienced officials sharing their knowledge.

As you can see, there are numerous ways for USA Hockey Level 1 referees to supplement their income. Whether it’s through mileage reimbursement, per diem pay, tournament bonuses, participating in camps and training clinics, or taking on supervisory and mentoring roles, referees have opportunities to earn extra money while doing something they love.

So, not only can referees make a positive impact on the game of hockey, but they can also enjoy some financial benefits along the way.

Tips for Maximizing Your Income as a Referee

Being a referee is not only a passion for many sports enthusiasts, but it can also be a great way to earn some extra income. If you are a USA Hockey Level 1 referee, here are some tips to help you maximize your income:

Get Experience at All Levels

To increase your chances of getting more games and higher-paying assignments, it’s important to gain experience at all levels of play. Don’t limit yourself to just officiating youth games; try to work your way up to higher-level competitions, such as junior or college hockey.

The more experience you have, the more opportunities you’ll have to earn a higher income.

Take on More Responsibility

If you want to increase your income as a referee, don’t be afraid to take on more responsibility. For example, you can volunteer to be a supervisor or assignor for local leagues. This will not only give you a chance to earn extra money, but it will also allow you to network with other officials and gain valuable insights into the industry.

Seek Out Mentors

Seeking out mentors who have been in the referee industry for a long time can be incredibly beneficial. They can provide you with guidance, tips, and advice on how to maximize your income. Additionally, they may be able to connect you with higher-paying assignments or introduce you to other influential individuals in the industry.

Continue Your Education

Continuing your education as a referee is crucial if you want to stand out from the competition and increase your income. Attend seminars, workshops, and training camps to improve your skills and stay updated on the latest rules and regulations.

The more knowledgeable you are, the more valuable you become to leagues and organizations, which can result in better-paying opportunities.

Be Reliable and Professional

Finally, one of the most important tips for maximizing your income as a referee is to be reliable and professional. Show up to games on time, dress appropriately, and communicate effectively with coaches, players, and fellow officials.

Building a reputation for being reliable and professional will not only lead to more assignments but may also result in referrals and recommendations that can further boost your income.

Remember, being a referee is not just about earning money; it’s about being passionate about the sport and contributing to fair and impartial gameplay. By following these tips, you can enhance your income while also enjoying the fulfilling role of a referee.


Becoming a USA Hockey certified referee takes dedication, but offers financial rewards for your time and effort. While youth games provide stable income in the $35-45 range, more experienced officials can earn $75 or more per high-level junior or college game.

Maximizing your long-term income requires focusing on continual improvement – gaining diverse experience across age groups, skill levels, and league types. Expanding your officiating skill set through ongoing training and mentoring creates more opportunities to referee competitive matches and tournaments.

With a professional attitude and commitment to developing your expertise, a career in hockey refereeing can be both financially and personally rewarding.

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