How Can I Become a Certified Baseball Umpire?

Explore the career requirements for certified baseball umpires. Get the facts about training requirements, salary, job growth and optional certifications to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Education - Sports Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Certified Baseball Umpire?

A baseball umpire is a sports official at a baseball game. In this position, you would oversee baseball games from start to finish. As a home plate umpire, you would be responsible for calling balls and strikes, and you would make sure that the team on offense follows the correct batting order. As a base umpire, you would make calls on close plays, like whether a runner has been tagged out before reaching a base. You would also make calls in the outfield, such as whether an outfielder caught a fly ball before it hit the ground for the first time. In addition, all umpires ensure that players and coaches obey the rules of the game and follow acceptable standards of sportsmanship. In some leagues, baseball umpires need to be certified in order to demonstrate that they have sufficient expertise to officiate.

Learn more about this popular career choice from the chart below.

Training Required Varies, umpire training required for professional positions
Field of Study Umpiring
Key Skills In-depth baseball knowledge, physical fitness, fairness
Certification Professional certification optional
Job Growth (2014-24) 5% (for all umpires, referees, and other sports officials)*
Median Salary (2015) $24,870 (for all umpires, referees, and other sports officials)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Would My Duties Be as a Baseball Umpire?

You would need exhaustive knowledge of the sport, as well as the physical and mental ability to keep up with fast-paced game play. Additionally, you would need to remain clear-headed and neutral, even when coaches, players or fans disagree with your decisions.

How Do I Get Started?

The amount of education, training and preparation you need to work as a baseball umpire depends on the level at which you would like to officiate. You can usually begin working as an umpire at the local level with a high school diploma or the equivalent. Many baseball umpires gain experience by starting on a volunteer basis for intramural, recreational or Little League games. Some local, regional and state umpire organizations offer training or mentoring programs for new or aspiring umpires.

The requirements for high school umpiring vary by local baseball umpire organization, which is typically part of a state umpiring organization, which is in turn a member of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). The National Association of Sports Officials reported that registration with an officiating organization is typically required; however, registration requirements vary (www.naso.org).

Umpiring at the collegiate level is more competitive, and requirements, training and testing vary among the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). To work at the minor or major league level, you are required to have some formal training.

What Kind of Professional Training Do I Need?

If you're serious about umpiring professionally, you can enroll in a 4-5 week training program offered by one of three schools formally approved by the Professional Baseball Umpire Corporation (PBUC), a subsidiary of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (NAPBL). There aren't typically any education or experience requirements for enrollment in a PBUC-approved training program.

Topics covered include theory, league rules of play and practical skills, such as field position, voice work and hand signals. Learning takes place in the classroom and on the baseball field. Top students may undergo further evaluation for possible placement in the minor leagues. After many years of experience, it may be possible to secure a position as a baseball umpire for the major leagues.

How Do I Become Certified?

Formal certification across the career field isn't standardized. If you're seeking to become a professional umpire, you'll receive a certificate of completion after finishing one of the PBUC-approved programs. Certification at the major league level isn't offered. Smaller umpire organizations and ball clubs or leagues may offer their own certification. This certification may require an exam and usually expires annually.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you are passionate about baseball, you could also consider becoming a professional athlete yourself, in either the minor or major leagues. No formal education is required, but you need to have significant playing experience and excellent skills. You might also teach baseball or other sports to groups as a recreation worker. These workers can find jobs at parks, camps and recreation centers. You only need a high school diploma to become a recreation worker.

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