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Prospective Officials 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? USA Hockey has no minimum or maximum age for officials, however all federal, state, and local labor laws must be followed. Here in Arizona, 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 $65.00. 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 AHRA 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 AHRA offers throughout the year.


4. What can I expect in my first year? Most brand new level 1 referees will begin officiating cross ice games in a supervised setting to make them feel as comfortable and supported as possible. We’ve found these low pressure opportunities to be one of the best at developing confidence and long term success. 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? AHRA uses a convenient online scheduling system called ArbiterSports. Once the official is fully registered with USA Hockey, we gather more information from them and create an individual account (officials cannot create their own accounts through the ArbiterSports website). The official or parent who is managing the account will set up blocks within the software. The blocks can be set for all day, certain times of the day, certain rinks, travel limits, etc. When schedulers go to assign a game, if the official has set a block for themselves at that time, they will show as unavailable and won’t be scheduled. Games are typically assigned around 2 weeks in advance, however as I’m sure you are already aware, hockey schedules can change rapidly and thus the need for officials changes as well. It is imperative that the new official regularly updates their availability and contacts their rink(s) scheduler to introduce themselves. Much of the assigning process is done on a personal level.


6. What can I expect to get paid and when? Our current pay rates are listed on our website under the ‘Resources’ tab. AHRA pays on the 20th of each month for games worked during the previous calendar month. For example, if an official works a game on October 10th, they will be paid for that assignment on November 20th. AHRA invoices the various leagues, teams, and organizations on the 1st of each month, with payment expected by the 10th. This gives us time to collect, deposit, and disperse payments so that we can continue to consistently pay the officials at the same time each month.   


The officials who receive the most game assignments are those who have become, what I like to call, a “low maintenance official.”  These are the 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.


I strongly urge you to access the resources on this website, as you will find answers to many different and common questions. The registration process is explained for you in a step-by-step manner. If you have a situation that is not covered here, don’t hesitate to contact myself or any AHRA board member as we are here to help. Thank you.


Zachary Reese

AHRA VP of Operations

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