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In the United States, most new referees will enter at Grade 8, which is the entry level referee grade. The only requirement to get or maintain this level is to attend an annual referee clinic and pass the written test. Younger referees may start at Grade 9, which only allows them to serve recreational games, but helps give them valuable experience.

A Grade 8 referee can pass assessments, physical fitness tests, attend clinics, and take a written test to advance in level. Grade 7 is a local referee who has done these things. Grade 6 and Grade 5 are State referees, and will typically be found reffing State Cup and high-level intra-state competitions. Grade 4 and Grade 3 are National referees, and can sometimes be seen in Major League Soccer and other regional or national competitions. Grade 2 is the FIFA International Assistant Referee, and Grade 1 is the FIFA International Referee.

Grades 9 through 5 are handled by the local State Association, while Grades 4 and 3 are handled by USSF. Grades 2 and 1 are selected by FIFA, and few will ever get this opportunity.

This question was answered from the perspective of the United States, because of the category chosen. Other countries have parallel systems and higher or lower requirements for each level. This is because many countries don't have "states" as we do, or are subdivided in another way.

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Q: What is the difference between the different grades of referees?
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