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How to Become a Certified Baseball Umpire: Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a certified baseball umpire. Research the career requirements, training information and experience required for starting a career in baseball umpiring.

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Do I Want to Be a Baseball Umpire?

For those who love baseball, becoming an umpire can be a rewarding part-time, or even full-time, position. Umpires are needed at all levels of baseball, from Little League and college to the minor and major leagues. They work in groups to officiate the games and judge the plays. Travel is often required, and work hours may be irregular, including holidays, nights and weekends.

Job Requirements

Most umpires must attend training programs or umpiring clinics to develop their skills and understanding of the game. The requirements to become an umpire vary by the level of the game, but in general, a working knowledge of baseball is paramount. Passing an exam might be required for registration. The following table contains the main qualifications and requirements needed to become a Certified Baseball Umpire listed from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Common Requirements
Degree Level Umpire training school may be required for umpires in minor and major league games
Certification Available through umpire associations
Experience Experience is necessary to advance
Key Skills Communication, decision-making
Technical Skills Acute knowledge of the game
Additional Requirements Good vision and stamina

Step 1: Learn the Game

Aspiring umpires should learn as much as they can about the rules and regulations of baseball by obtaining the various baseball handbooks, including those offered by the Little League, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and Major League Baseball (MLB). Experience from both watching and playing the game is useful for aspiring umpires. Individuals should attend as many games as possible to learn the rules and mechanics.

Success Tip:

  • Talk to other umpires. Interacting with other umpires is a great way to network and learn about the job. Ask these umpires questions about the game and about umpire associations.

Step 2: Assess Physical Health and Character

Umpires need to be in relatively fit condition. They must be able to stand or bend for extended periods of time, as well as withstand various weather conditions like high temperatures. Umpires are also expected to have 20/20 vision, with or without corrective lenses, according to MLB standards. Alertness, quick thinking and good judgment are crucial aspects of umpiring. Above all, umpires must be able to communicate clearly.

Success Tip:

  • Learn how to work well under pressure. Working as a certified baseball umpire can be a grueling and stressful job, which includes making split-second decisions under a lot of pressure. In addition to physical stamina, umpires need to be confident and mentally stable.

Step 3: Attend an Umpire Training Program

Umpiring at the amateur level, such as Little League, high school and even college, requires the completion of some training. Individuals can attend umpire clinics, which are typically regional and last approximately three days. Clinics might cover MLB, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) or National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) rules. Little League also offers umpire clinics for training specific to its rules and regulations.

There are also umpiring schools, such as The Umpire School and Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring, that prepare people for professional baseball careers, although those not interested in professional baseball can attend as well. Completion of these programs include an exam and evaluation period, which determines who is qualified to move into Minor League umpiring as preparation for possible work in the Major League.

Step 4: Obtain Certification

Contacting a local or regional baseball umpire association can provide the necessary information for becoming certified. Individuals who umpire for amateur leagues, including Little League, high school and college, must register with a local or regional association. Exams for certification typically consist of a series of questions related to the rules and regulations of umpiring. To maintain certification, baseball umpires are required to attend yearly clinics and field sessions to stay updated on changes in the game.

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