Umpires and Referees


Employment Prospects


There are approximately 22,800 sports officials employed in the United States. They work for professional and semiprofessional leagues, sports organizations, youth leagues, and schools at all levels.

Starting Out

A person interested in becoming a referee or umpire should begin officiating Little League or amateur league games on weekends and at night. Many umpires and referees also get their start by volunteering. For a paid position, beginners need to pass a written examination and join the state association of officials for each sport they choose to officiate.

Advancement Prospects

The natural progression for umpires and referees is to begin by officiating young peoples' games and advance to amateur adults' contests. Those with talent and determination may move on to college games or professional minor leagues.

Many officials who would like to move to the professional level attend umpire or referee camps. Many of these camps are conducted by actual professional officials. These programs feature a rigorous review of rules and regulations and often include game situations.

The minor leagues in baseball are a testing ground for prospective umpires. On average, umpires spend six to eight years at the minor-league level before they are even considered for a major-league position. Football officials must have 10 years of officiating experience, five years of which must have been at a collegiate varsity or minor professional level, before they can work in the NFL.

Tips for Entry

Visit to read “How to Become a Professional Umpire.”

Read Referee magazine ( to learn more about the field.

Attend the National Association of Sports Officials’ Sports Officiating Summit to participate in continuing education classes and build your professional network.