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How Do I Become an Umpire?

As many as four umpires might oversee a cricket match.
Learning how to make judgment calls, such as when a pitcher balks, is part of being an umpire.
A home plate umpire calls balls and strikes, among other things.
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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 01 October 2014
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The first step required to become an umpire is determine the sports in which you want to officiate. Umpires are found in baseball, cricket and American football. Although all organized sports have a position responsible for ensuring the rules of the game are followed and making decisions, the term "umpire" is used in only these three sports. Someone who is an active participant or fan of these sports might want to become an umpire.

The primary responsibility of an umpire is to enforce the rules of the games, make decisions and judgment calls and resolve discipline or behavior problems. An in-depth knowledge of the rules and requirements is essential. In addition to this knowledge, the ability to work with fans, athletes and other officiating staff members is very important. Conflict resolution and management skills are becoming more important, because behavior management and discipline is a growing area in professional sports.

At the junior level, there are many organizations that provide short training and testing programs for someone who wants to become an umpire. The most popular programs to become a baseball umpire in the United States are organized by the Little League® or the Babe Ruth League®. Talk with the organizers of the local baseball leagues to learn how to become an umpire for that league.

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An umpire training program usually lasts for eight to 12 weeks and can be divided into two sections: rules and judgment calls. Anyone who wants to become an umpire must memorize the rules of the sport at the appropriate level. Guidelines for making judgment calls comprise almost half of an umpire training program.

The process to become a professional umpire is quite complicated and has a very low success rate. On average, it takes seven to 10 years of professional experience to become an umpire in Major League Baseball®. Long hours, extensive travel and individual sacrifice are all essential for anyone who wants to make a career as an umpire.

To become a professional baseball umpire, you must enroll in either the Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring® or The Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School®. These schools offer a five-week program of training dedicated to the skills necessary to become an umpire. The top students then attend the Professional Baseball Umpires Corporation® evaluation course. Successful students are then eligible to work in the minor leagues as an umpire.

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