How to Become a Sports Official

Sports and athletic events involve a variety of rules and regulations. Sports officials are highly trained athletic professionals that officiate a variety of sports, competitions, and other athletic events.

What does a sports official do?

Sports officials officiate a variety of sports such as soccer, football, hockey, swimming, tennis, boxing, and other athletic events. They strategically position themselves to get a good view of play and assess situations. They observe play and make sure athletes follow all rules and regulations. They make instant decisions, resolve conflicts, and impose penalties for infractions. They bring control to chaotic events, promote safety, and encourage good sportsmanship of all players. Some sports officials work independently and others work in groups.

What kind of training does a sports official need?

The training requirements for sports officials vary by type of sport, but they typically need at least a high school diploma and extensive knowledge on the sport of interest. Many sports officials complete formal training and most have participated in sports and athletic activities at some point in their lives. Many sports officials begin their careers by volunteering for community, intramural, and recreational sporting events to gain practical experience. Some sports require sports officials to pass a written test to assess their knowledge of the sport. Sports officials that work for public schools typically need to be registered by the state. Many employers require sports officials to be certified. Certification requirements typically include minimum education and experience and passing a written examination. Some sports also require sports officials to be licensed. Sports officials that officiate for college and professional teams typically need formal training, sufficient experience, certification, and other qualifications.

What are the prospects for a career as a sports official?

Employment of sports officials is expected to grow about as fast as average for all professions, increasing 10% from 2008 to 2018 (1). The growing population and increase in a variety of sports and athletic events will drive job growth.

Job prospects should be very good with very keen competition for the highest levels of sports. Sports officials with advanced training and extensive experience will have the best job opportunities.

How much do sports officials make?

As of February 2010, the average annual salary for sports officials is $41,000; average annual sports official salaries vary greatly on location, employer, education, experience, and benefits (2).

A career as a sports official is a great choice for people with a strong interest in officiating a variety of sports. Sports officials must have a thorough understanding of the play, strategies, rules, and regulations of the sport they officiate. Physical fitness, self-confidence, detail orientation, and good leadership skills are necessary characteristics. Sports officials must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and the ability to interact with a variety of athletes, coaches, and other sports officials. They must be quick on their feet and be able to make good decisions under stress and pressure.

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