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All About Umpires, Referees, and Sports Officials

Sports Official Example Officiate at competitive athletic or sporting events. Detect infractions of rules and decide penalties according to established regulations. Includes all sporting officials, referees, and competition judges.

Life As a Sports Official: What Do They Do?

  • Confer with other sporting officials, coaches, players, and facility managers in order to provide information, coordinate activities, and discuss problems.
  • Judge performances in sporting competitions in order to award points, impose scoring penalties, and determine results.
  • Teach and explain the rules and regulations governing a specific sport.
  • Inspect sporting equipment and/or examine participants in order to ensure compliance with event and safety regulations.
  • Direct participants to assigned areas such as starting blocks or penalty areas.
  • Signal participants or other officials to make them aware of infractions or to otherwise regulate play or competition.

Qualities of a Sports Official

Umpires, Referees, and Sports Officials state the following job skills are important in their day-to-day work.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Judgment and Decision Making: Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

Monitoring: Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Coordination: Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.

  • Harness Racing Handicapper
  • Major League Baseball Umpire
  • Marshal
  • Steward/Stewardess
  • Patrol Judge

Job Demand for Umpires, Referees, and Sports Officials

There were about 21,100 jobs for Umpire, Referee, or Sports Official in 2016 (in the United States). New jobs are being produced at a rate of 7.6% which is above the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 1,600 new jobs for Umpire, Referee, or Sports Official by 2026. There will be an estimated 3,000 positions for Sports Official per year.


The states with the most job growth for Sports Official are Nebraska, New Mexico, and Florida. Watch out if you plan on working in West Virginia, South Carolina, or Oklahoma. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Sports Official Salary

The average yearly salary of a Sports Official ranges between $18,220 and $59,240.


Umpires, Referees, and Sports Officials who work in Kentucky, Washington, or West Virginia, make the highest salaries.

Below is a list of the median annual salaries for Umpires, Referees, and Sports Officials in different U.S. states.

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $20,110
Alaska $36,900
Arizona $42,170
California $32,780
Colorado $32,890
Delaware $30,960
Florida $32,630
Georgia $24,120
Idaho $22,500
Illinois $34,860
Iowa $29,250
Kansas $34,160
Kentucky $46,930
Louisiana $30,400
Maine $26,170
Maryland $36,980
Massachusetts $47,300
Michigan $28,460
Minnesota $40,660
Mississippi $25,930
Missouri $33,560
Montana $22,160
Nebraska $27,730
New Hampshire $40,220
New Jersey $39,490
New Mexico $24,440
North Carolina $35,460
North Dakota $32,370
Ohio $28,670
Oklahoma $37,870
Oregon $28,300
Pennsylvania $29,750
Rhode Island $33,250
South Dakota $28,850
Tennessee $34,010
Texas $34,750
Utah $21,980
Vermont $34,400
Virginia $37,390
Washington $39,130
West Virginia $40,450
Wisconsin $30,860

What Tools do Umpires, Referees, and Sports Officials Use?

Below is a list of the types of tools and technologies that Umpires, Referees, and Sports Officials may use on a daily basis:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Web browser software
  • Email software
  • Word processing software
  • Adobe Systems Adobe Acrobat
  • Database software
  • Video editing software

Becoming a Sports Official

What education or degrees do I need to become an Umpire, Referee, or Sports Official?


What work experience do I need to become a Sports Official?


Where Umpires, Referees, and Sports Officials Are Employed


Umpires, Referees, and Sports Officials work in the following industries:



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