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A Career as an Umpire or Referee | Your A-Z guide for everything you need to know

In this blog, we will look at the skills required, duties, career prospects, best colleges, salary prospects, and it's future in India for a career as an umpire or Referee.

Last updated: 02.06.2020
Referee in action during a match | Sports Social Blog

There's no doubt that people will always take part and watch sports. In turn, there will always be a need for umpires and referees to officiate in sporting events around the globe. They are the ones who make sure that the rules and regulations of the game are followed and when the rules are broken, they decide suitable penalties. They work indoors and out, in all types of weather, and have to travel to sporting events. They are ones who anticipate play and put themselves where they can best see the action, assess the situation, and determine any violations of the play if any.

Officials often make split-second decisions, sometimes resulting in strong disagreements expressed by opposing team players, coaches, and spectators. Some sports officials work independently, like boxing refs. Others work in teams of few members. Sports officials typically rely on their judgment to rule on infractions and penalties. Officials in some sports, like football, can use video replay to help make the correct call. 

Duties of an Umpire or Referee

Sports officials typically do the following:

  • Officiate sporting events, games and competitions

  • Judge performances of all the parties involved and determine a winner

  • Keep a strong tab on the time constraint, and manage to start and stop play when necessary

  • Settle claims of infractions and complaints by participants

  • Inspect equipment and ensure that the game is fair for all

  • Award penalties when necessary

Skills required:

For a career as an umpire or a coach, they must possess the following specific qualities:

  • Decision-making skills: officials observe play, assess various situations, and often make split-second decisions.

  • Good vision: they must distinctly observe any violations in play. In some sports, like diving or gymnastics, they must clearly observe the athlete's form for perfection. 

  • Communication skills: they must communicate well and settle disputes between competing players. 

  • Stamina: they are required to stand, walk, run, or squat for long periods during games and events

  • Teamwork: In games that involve multiple referees, they should have the ability to co-operate and come to a mutual decision. 

How to become a sports Referee?

Each sport has its own requirement for referees. Some require them to pass a test based on their knowledge of the sport. Referees and umpires often begin their careers with a high school diploma and gain enough knowledge by officiating at the community and recreational league competitions. Educational qualification varies from place to place and is sometimes determined by the local sports association. Although some organizations require no formal educational requirement, other states require umpires, referees and other sports officials to have a bachelor's degree in this field. They are also required to attend training sessions or seminars. 

Top colleges for a career as an umpire or Referee in India:

Here we will look at the top colleges/institutes for a career as a sports official along with its location, course, duration, and the fee structure:

Lakshmibai National Institute of Physical Education

Location: Gwalior and Guwahati

Course name: Diploma in sports coaching

Duration: 1 year

Fees: 21,550 per year

National Sports University Society

Location: Manipur

Course name: Diploma in Sports Coaching

Duration: 2 years

Fees: 88,250 per year

Netaji Subhash National Institute of Sports

Location: Patiala, Punjab

Course name: M.Sc. in Sports Coaching

Duration: 2 years

Fees: 9,275 per year

Swarnim Gujarat Sports University

Location: Gujarat

Course Name: PG Diploma program in sports coaching

Duration: 1 year

Fees: 16,000 per year

Tamil Nadu Physical Education and Sports University

Location: Chennai

Course name: B.Sc. in Sports Coaching

Duration: 3 years

Fees: 8,960 per year

Salary prospects:

Most umpires, Referees, and other sports officials are paid on a per-game basis. Pay typically rises as the level of the competition rises. They often work irregular hours, including evenings, weekends, and holidays. Sometimes a match may be scheduled at night too. The median salary for an umpire or Referee in India is 6-8 Lakhs per annum (LPA). The median salary is the salary at which half the workers in the occupation earn more than that and half less than that. The lowest 10 percent earn less than 2 LPA while the highest 10 percent earn more than 18 LPA. The top recruiters in India are Indian Premier League (IPL), Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), International Cricket Council (ICC), and Sports Association of India (SAI).

It's future in India:

Employment of sports umpires, referees, and other officials is projected to grow by 6 percent from 2018 to 2028, about as fast as the average of all occupations. As the population grows, so will the number of people participating in different sports. As schools offer more athletic programs, more students will participate in these games, the demand for umpires, referees, and sports officials will certainly increase. However, funding for athletic programs often is the first thing to be cut when budgets become tight. And with the ongoing coronavirus crisis, there is a growing concern for the next couple of years. 

But overall job prospects for umpires, referees, and sports officials are expected to be good at the youth and high school levels.

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