If the World Cup inspires you, know that there is a way to get paid to watch sports: become a referee.
Ruben Seyde has worked as a referee since he was 11 years old. “It was my first source of ‘real’ money,” he says. The entrepreneur, who has officiated junior, amateur, NCAA and semi-pro football games, says the side hustle is a great way to exercise and stay connected to a sport he loves. Seyde was able to work at this young age under the same child labor laws that allow children to have paper routes or star in movies or TV shows.
Arbitration games are a side hustle that Seyde used to pay for college and continued into adulthood. This softened the blow and generated residual income when Seyde decided to quit his job to start his business. As more Americans grapple with a higher inflation-induced cost of living, having a side hustle tied to an industry you love is an increasingly popular solution.
If getting paid for referee matches sounds like something you might see yourself doing, here’s how it works.
The Side Hustle paid his way through college
Seyde has always felt drawn to secondary jostling. Becoming a referee and earning $500 a weekend was the opportunity he was looking for to make regular money.
“Eleven was the age you could enroll in the course and get certified, so my dad took me to do it,” he says. “I passed the test and started refereeing for 10 hours every Saturday and Sunday. At eleven, I didn’t have to ask my parents for anything, it was great.
During his freshman year of high school, Seyde says he began to take his high school job more seriously. He took courses to learn how to improve as a referee, listened to monthly seminars from professional referees on how to improve, and modified his wellness routine to improve his health and build the necessary stamina. football. His father, who had also been a referee, helped him develop his skills and asked Seyde to make sure he saved some of his earnings for emergencies, college and investing for the future. .
“I went to college and continued to officiate as a hustle,” says Seyde. “Instead of going out partying on the weekends and doing what typical college people do, I would work every weekend to umpire and still earn $500. This money eventually helped pay for my tuition and everything I needed, like food and housing, while attending Boston University.
Use your side hustle to keep career options open
Seyde graduated from college in 2018 and got a job as a paralegal. He did both the work and the side hustle until 2020 when he decided to quit his 9 to 5 to pursue starting a cannabis business. During the two years he juggled the two jobs, he put everything aside to build his emergency fund and his start-up sinking fund. He says his secondary earnings helped form the company’s initial investment, as he didn’t want to take loans, and taught him good saving habits.
“Very few people have parents who taught them about money, largely because most of their parents didn’t learn about money,” says Beau Henderson, retirement expert and CEO of Rich Life Advisors. . “I do retirement planning, and I can say firsthand that a lot of the hardships people face in their 50s and 60s could have been avoided if they had been taught financial literacy as they still had time and the power of compound interest on their side.” Henderson says an alarming number of people have little or no savings for retirement, and some of that distress can be avoided in future generations with knowledge of personal finance.
Starting a cannabis business means going through many regulatory steps to get the business legally registered. Meanwhile, Seyde says his hustle helped him pay his bills. He referees two games a day now while working in the company and occasionally goes to referee tournaments.
“It’s my outlet to get away from everyday life,” he says.
How to become a referee
To become a referee, you must complete a one-day course with your state’s governing association. Here’s the one Seyde did, for reference. After the course, you must pass a 50-question multiple-choice test based on what you have learned.
“When you take the course and pass the test, you’re certified as a basic umpire,” says Seyde. “The base is the entry level where you refer young children – the lowest level on the referee ladder.”
Here’s how it works:
- When you are certified, you are connected to “assigners” in your state.
- You send the assigners your availability, and they assign you the initial games.
- As you referee a few matches and gain experience, you have the opportunity to be assigned more matches and work with older, more established leagues.
Seyde currently works with seven dispatchers for the leagues he referees. He says there is an excess of games and not enough referees, so there is an opportunity to be assigned many games. You earn $45 per game initially, he says, but the amount you earn increases as you move up the referee ranks. He also notes that this process is similar for referee jobs for other sports and leagues if football isn’t your thing.
Job openings for referees and umpires are expected to increase 32% by 2031, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There will be approximately 3,600 planned openings for umpires and referees each year, on average, over the next decade.
Earn extra money doing what you love
Being a referee has been a constant in Seyde’s life. He learned how to make money at a young age, paid for college, and had a safety net in place when he decided to quit his job and start a business.
“Do it for fun and don’t focus on the money initially, because the money will always follow your passion,” says Seyde. “The transferors will give you a few games a week to see how you do. Once you’ve proven yourself, that side hustle could easily net $250-500 every weekend.
If you love sports, this might be the perfect scramble for you. A passion-based side hustle could be the key to paying off credit card debt, saving for the future, and creating long-term financial independence.