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Life As an Umpire, Referee, or Sports Official

Job Description & Duties 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.

List of Sports Official Job Duties

  • Direct participants to assigned areas such as starting blocks or penalty areas.
  • Keep track of event times, including race times and elapsed time during game segments, starting or stopping play when necessary.
  • Verify scoring calculations before competition winners are announced.
  • Verify credentials of participants in sporting events, and make other qualifying determinations such as starting order or handicap number.
  • Start races and competitions.
  • Inspect sporting equipment and/or examine participants in order to ensure compliance with event and safety regulations.

What a Sports Official Should Know

When polled, Umpires, Referees, and Sports Officials say the following skills are most frequently used in their jobs:

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.

Types of Sports Official Jobs

  • Basketball Referee
  • Dance Critic
  • Scorer
  • Racing Secretary and Handicapper
  • Hoof and Shoe Inspector

Is There Job Demand for Umpires, Referees, and Sports Officials?

In the United States, there were 21,100 jobs for Umpire, Referee, or Sports Official in 2016. 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. The BLS estimates 3,000 yearly job openings in this field.


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.

What is the Average Salary of a Sports Official

The typical yearly salary for Umpires, Referees, and Sports Officials is somewhere 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

How do I Become a Sports Official?

What education is needed to be an Umpire, Referee, or Sports Official?


How Long Does it Take to Become a Sports Official?


Umpires, Referees, and Sports Officials Sector


The table below shows some of the most common industries where those employed in this career field work.



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More about our data sources and methodologies.

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