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Career Profile: Umpires, Referees, and Other Sports Officials

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.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 20,200 people employed as umpires, referees, and other sports officials in the United States. The median annual salary is $28,900. Entry level employees earn approximately $18,750 per year and senior employees earn approximately $63,480 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Confer with other sporting officials, coaches, players, and facility managers to provide information, coordinate activities, and discuss problems.
  • Judge performances in sporting competitions to award points, impose scoring penalties, and determine results.
  • Verify scoring calculations before competition winners are announced.
  • Start races and competitions.
  • Compile scores and other athletic records.
  • Verify credentials of participants in sporting events, and make other qualifying determinations, such as starting order or handicap number.
  • Keep track of event times, including race times and elapsed time during game segments, starting or stopping play when necessary.
  • Direct participants to assigned areas, such as starting blocks or penalty areas.
  • Research and study players and teams to anticipate issues that might arise in future engagements.
  • Teach and explain the rules and regulations governing a specific sport.
  • Inspect sporting equipment or examine participants to ensure compliance with event and safety regulations.
  • Report to regulating organizations regarding sporting activities, complaints made, and actions taken or needed, such as fines or other disciplinary actions.
  • Officiate at sporting events, games, or competitions, to maintain standards of play and to ensure that game rules are observed.
  • Inspect game sites for compliance with regulations or safety requirements.
  • Resolve claims of rule infractions or complaints by participants and assess any necessary penalties, according to regulations.
  • Signal participants or other officials to make them aware of infractions or to otherwise regulate play or competition.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
20,200
Annual Openings:
3,800
Increase in Openings by 2030:
29%
Annual Salary Range:
$18,750 - $63,480
Education Requirements:
High school diploma