Umpire’s 3 Step Guide to Officiating and Finding Work
As an umpire, you have a lot of independence, and the opportunity to create your own schedule. Depending on your availability it may be quite easy to find work, but if you are only free on select days, you may have to pick and choose which events you’ll be able to officiate.
We’ve put together the ultimate umpire’s guide to officiating and how to find work. Check out what type of opportunities are available below, and read our 3 step guide to get a head start on your umpiring career.
What type of work opportunities can you get as an umpire?
Most people think of umpiring as a recreational activity or something they only do while playing a sport, but there's actually a lot of potential to make a living as an umpire. Umpires are needed for a variety of sports, such as baseball, softball, 3 pitch, and slo-pitch - at all age levels.
The job of an umpire is to ump each game with a professional attitude, stay within your time limits, all while making decisions in game during each play on the field and every at bat.
Umpires must also keep track of the count, innings, and enforce the rules at all times.
Overview of Umpiring with Professional Organizations
The first step in finding work as an umpire is to look for professional umpiring organizations in your area that offer competitive umpiring opportunities. There are many provincial and national sports organizations that employ umpires, including the Canadian sanctioning organizations SPO (Slo-Pitch Ontario) and SPN (Slo-Pitch National).
Through these organizations, you can take the respective Umpire Exams and start officiating games as soon as you’re available!
These umpiring organizations have their own sets of recruitment rules and processes, so it’s important to research them first and find out what the requirements are. You can get a head start by checking out your league’s rules on the Umpire Cheat Sheet.
People choose to become umpires for a variety of reasons. Some do it for the money, some for the experience, and some because they enjoy working with people and want to be part of the action. Umpiring is a great way to learn about the game of baseball, meet new people, and get paid to do something you love.
If you’re unfamiliar with the rules of the game, it’s important to do your research before you officiate any games - and you may need this knowledge to pass your Umpire Exam.
Identifying Umpire Opportunities
Once you’ve decided that umpiring is right for you, the next step is to research available opportunities. Start by searching online for umpire jobs in your area; some websites list openings specifically for umpires, or you may even find postings on Facebook.
You can also check with your sports teams and leagues to see if they are looking for umpires, as well as ask around at local parks and recreation departments, or create your own online ads to advertise your umpiring services.
Research umpiring positions to learn about the requirements for each job. Most organizations look for individuals who have knowledge of the sport, experience as an umpire, and a good understanding of the rules. You’ll also need to be in good physical condition and wear the required uniform, as umpires often have to run around the field during games and must be clearly identifiable in their uniform.
Umpire Certification: How to Become an Umpire
Getting umpire certifications and training may be necessary before you can work as an umpire. Most sports organizations require some type of certification, and a firm understanding of the rules.
The best way to get certified as an umpire in Canada is to write the SPN Umpire Exam online, and attend an in-person umpire clinic.
If you are planning to ump games at Henning Park, be sure to get your uniform shirt ordered before your first game!
Acquiring Umpire Gear
Another important step in preparing to become an umpire is to gather the right gear. Umpires need to purchase or rent specific umpire apparel, such as a protective chest guard and face mask, as well as other protective gear.
As an umpire, you may need to invest in a good pair of cleats or athletic shoes, as well as an umpire counter (or clicker), a uniform and hat.
A umpire clicker is an essential piece of equipment, and you should never officiate a game without one. It is specifically built to help umpires keep the count during a game to track balls, strikes, outs and innings without having to take notes or hold all of that information in your head at once.
Developing a Network
As a beginner umpire, it can be helpful to start building relationships with more experienced umpires in your community. Ask them for advice, and consider them your mentors as you work to improve your umpiring skills.
These connections will help teach you everything you need to know about umpiring, as well as provide you with contacts that could potentially hire you or refer you to an umpiring job in the future.
You can also take classes and attend conferences to continue honing your skills and knowledge as an umpire - or ask your Umpire in Chief for more training!
Once you have your umpire certifications and training, the next step is to apply for umpire jobs. Many organizations list job openings on their websites, or an umpire-in-chief that you can contact for new opportunities.
If you’re in Canada, you can umpire for many independent leagues & tournaments, as well as their sanctioning organizations SPO (Slo-Pitch Ontario) and SPN (Slo-Pitch National) . You can find league rules for each organization on the Umpire Cheat Sheet website and mobile app, so you always have your rulebook on hand.
If your application is successful, you’ll usually be required to attend an in person interview or training session, where you can demonstrate your umpiring skills and knowledge. Be sure to dress professionally for your Umpire Clinic, and take a notebook and pen for any important notes.
Make sure to let your Umpire in Chief know your availability well in advance so that you can be scheduled for more games.
Once you get started working as an umpire, creating a good relationship with your fellow umpires and umpire in chief are great ways to obtain future references for any other job opportunities.
Umpiring is an exciting and rewarding job that requires a good understanding of the sport you are officiating. With the right preparation and dedication, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a successful umpire.
By doing your research, learning the rules, and networking with other professionals, you can open the door to many job opportunities in the umpiring field. With these tips, you can find work as an umpire and begin your journey to a successful and fulfilling career.