How to become a Premier League referee: Here is what you need to do to become a referee in the EPL

How to become a Premier League referee: Here is what you need to do to become a referee in the EPL

Steve Njuguna
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:25 PM
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ENG Premier League
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FIFA World Cup

Becoming a match official at the highest level of football takes years of work, dedication and practice. So what does it take to become a Premier League referee? Today we talk about what you must do to become a referee in the EPL.

Today we discuss how to become a premier league referee
EPL referee Robert Jones at a past game. Photo by James Gill - Danehouse
Source: Getty Images

Some notable EPL referees over the years include Howard Webb and Michael Oliver. EPL referees are considered the best; most have also officiated at the World Cup.

How do you become a pro referee?

To become a referee for football, you must go through several training tiers. It would be best if you also worked on several minor and amateur leagues before becoming entirely professional.

How hard is it to become a Premier League referee?

Like any other job, getting to the top of the refereeing table takes hard work and dedication. You must undergo all the training and accrue refereeing experience in the lower leagues. This can sometimes be rough and unrewarding.

What is the minimum age requirement to be a referee?

According to the English FA, starting early is the best way to become a football referee. The youngest age you can begin with is 14 years old. At that stage, one can officiate in primary and high school games and later in non-league, college and university tournaments.

Today we discuss how hard it is to become a premier league referee.
Match official Natalie Aspinall during a previous EPL game. Photo by Warren Little
Source: Getty Images

What are the different refereeing levels?

To become an EPL ref, there are 13 stages of coaching certifications to go through. Here is a breakdown of how they are structured from highest to lowest.


Level Description

Level D

These are former or retired match officials who work as referee trainers.

Level Y

This certification is for youth referees aged between 14 and 16.

Level 7

This level is authorised to officiate at an amateur league level.

Level 6

This level is certified to ref at the county leagues.

Level 5

Level 5 is for senior county leagues.

Level 4

Level four refs mainly officiate at supply leagues. They can also officiate as assistant refs at contributory leagues.

Level 3

These refs are based in contributory leagues full-time. However, depending on their experience, they can work as assistants in League One, League Two, the Championship and the EPL.

Level 2b

These refs are centre referees in the National Football League. They can work as assistant referees in the Championship and the EPL.

Level 2a

This is an upgrade to 2a that refs receive after accruing more experience.

Level 1

These are full-time centre referees in the 3rd and 4th tiers of English football.

Select Group 2

These refs are certified to officiate in the 2nd tier of England football.

Select Group

This is where most EPL refs are categorised.


This category is for elite EPL referees. Their experience allows them to ref in international tournaments like the World Cup.

A lot of young people wonder how to become a pro league referee. It requires consistency, knowledge of the game and, most importantly, passion. That was the entire top-to-bottom process of how to become an EPL referee.

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Steve Njuguna photo
Steve Njuguna
Steve Njuguna is a media professional with close to a decade of experience in the sports media industry. He has previously worked as a sports journalist with Bamba Sports TV, Vybez Radio and The Nairobian newspaper.