Difference Between Referee and Umpire

To become a Umpires-Referee you must have good communication skills because they inform athletes on the rules of the game and settle disputes between competing players. To discover if this career is for you, take one of our quizzes.

Umpires, referees, and other sports officials preside over competitive athletic or sporting events to help maintain standards of play. They detect infractions and decide penalties according to the rules of the game. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less.

Umpires-Referee Salary

  • Average Annual Salary: $25,200
  • Projected Lifetime Earnings: $1,110,800

Umpires-Referee – Education

If referees or umpires want to officiate in high school leagues, they must be registered with an officiating organization. These officiating bodies are usually run by state agencies that oversee high school athletics programs. Besides showing proof knowledge and understanding of a game’s rules at an exam, they will also be required to take drug tests and background checks. Want to see if becoming an umpire or referee may a career option for you? Take a free career test!

To become an umpire or referee, applicants must have at least high school or equivalent diploma, and to be able to work with sports teams in college, referees are required to become certified. They also will have to go through a probationary period in which they need to demonstrate their aptitude and officiating skills, and officials at college sports competitions must, before they will be able to perform at the college level, first have a few years of experience at the level of high schools. There are conferences where referees and umpires must live within that specific conference.

Referees and umpires who wish to operate at a professional sports league level must come with a lot of experience and have worked many years in highly competitive sports leagues. To give you an example, NFL and NBA referees must be highly experienced and have worked for years at the college level, while MLB umpires must have worked for a longer period of time at the minor league and college level.

Umpires-Referee – The Job

Referees and umpires have the task of overseeing all sorts of sporting events. These professionals ensure that athletes are following regulations and the rules of the game. They make sure that scoring is done properly, and when the rules or regulations are broken, they will issue sanctions, such as penalties. In many sports, e.g.  football, basketball, or baseball, umpires and referees work in teams, meaning that each of these officials is merely responsible for a specific part of the sports field. Then again, there are also sports, e.g. tennis, or boxing, where umpires or referees are working on their own.

Referees and umpires often will need to make decisions or controversial calls on situations and plays that are happening unexpectedly or in the blink of an eye, and these professionals are well-trained to get the optimal angle to observe plays as they develop. However, regardless of how well-trained or good they are, it is practically not possible to ensure all their calls are right all the time. Consequently, referees and umpires are constantly under scrutiny from players, coaches, and fans. They are often subjects of verbal abuse, especially in cases when others are disputing their calls. The occupation of umpire or referee is frequently highly stressful, and they are required to be able to deal with these complex situations.

Where do they work?

Most referees and umpires need to be able to do their work in all sorts of weather, but of course, that depends on the type of sports they officiate. Baseball may be played in extreme hot or cold circumstances, and sports such as football and soccer can be played in snow or rain. On the other hand, hockey and basketball are usually played indoors, and their work is done in a more consistent working environment.

Most referees and umpires and referees are active in amateur, youth, or recreational leagues, and then they will for the major part work on a part-time basis. These sports officials typically have full-time employment and perform their officiating duties in their free time. They often choose to officiate as they are loving these sports, and by doing this, they can make some additional income. Most sports are typically played on evenings, in holidays or at weekends, so umpires and referees are most needed during these times to officiate games. In the world of professional sports, referees and umpires often are required to do a lot of traveling extensively to officiate games, but traveling is not so much needed in recreational and youth leagues. But traveling is then again much more required at high school and above levels. Umpires and referees love their sports and must have a good eye. They must be able to stand up for themselves and only then, working as a referee or an umpire may be their ticket!

What does it take to become a referee or umpire?

This all depends pretty much on the level and kind of sport you’re interested in. For different sports are different education, training, and experience required to become a referee or umpire. A youth soccer referee, for instance, will need to only know the specific rules of that sport, whereas referees at professional levels are required to come with quite a few years of relevant experience. The requirements to become a sports referee or umpire differs hugely and depends mostly on the kind of sport and the level of league. Usually, they must pass an exam to demonstrate their skills and knowledge of regulations and rules in that particular sport. Many referees and umpires start to build up their knowledge, competencies, and experience that is needed to be able to be successful in any more advanced league by volunteering at community or recreational.

Employment outlook and income

At the moment there are around 17,500 referees and umpires in the U.S. and every year we can see new job openings. Over the next decade, the employment opportunities for referees, umpires, and all other sports officials may increase by some 8 percent, and this is about the average for all occupations nationwide. Job prospects will be pretty good at high school and youth levels, but professional referee and umpire positions are predicted to not grow much beyond current levels. In 2014, the average annual income for professional referees, umpires, and sports officials was around $25,200.