How do I Become a Basketball Official?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2019
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A basketball official is a person who enforces the rules at basketball games. The requirements for a person who wants to become a basketball official may depend on where he wants to work. If he wants to work at a recreational center or in a youth league, a person who wants to work as a basketball official may only need knowledge of the game and a little training. If a person wants to officiate for a middle or high school or even on a professional level, however, he may have to seek certification, which may require him to pass an exam or series of exams.

Basketball officials make sure the game is played and scored according to the rules. These officials are expected to enforce the rules fairly, without expressing any bias toward either team or any of the players. They are also expected to be calm, rational, and firm as they keep the game on track. Basketball officials have the task of deciding whether violations and fouls have occurred as well as deciding whether a score is valid. They may also have to penalize players when they exhibit poor conduct during the game.


A person who wants to become a basketball official for a recreational center, camp, youth league, or similar organizations may secure this job without any prior training. Often, those interested in these positions must simply have knowledge of the game, learn the rules, and learn the hand signals used in basketball officiating. Sometimes a person who wants to officiate at this level may have to attend an orientation or a training session or two, but this type of preparation is generally low key.

In many places, a person who wants to become a basketball official for a middle school or high school may face stricter requirements. The requirements vary from place to place, but these officials may need experience and have to participate in some sort of training. In some cases, a person who wants to officiate for a school, especially at the high school level, will have to pass tests, becoming certified as a basketball official.

An individual who wants to become a basketball official at a college or professional level typically needs even more preparation. Often, officials at this level are expected to have a good deal of knowledge of the game as well as years of officiating experience. In many cases, a person interested in this job may have to pass tests and earn certifications. He may also have to attend training camps or clinics. Often this training includes officiating in practice games and in-classroom lessons.


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Post 4

I really have to wonder what the going rate is for basketball games and if they vary depending on what gender is playing?

I am only wondering because I am already an official and it seems like my area is skimming me as far as pay goes and they try to pay the officials as little as possible.

I really feel like that i am the only older official to do these games as all the other officials my age do not usually do many game sin this area and it is full of younger officials that do not seem to know any better as far as pay goes.

I just got into this line of business and I am wondering if anyone has any thoughts on what the pay rate is and if it is worth driving a long distance to cover the gas costs? Also can an official negotiate gas included in their pay?

Post 3

@titans62 - I agree. Unless one is officiating a summer camp game that is sponsored by some organization like the AAU, one does not have to be a certified official in order to officiate, only know the rules of basketball.

I have a sports background, and although I did not play basketball in high school I was hired to do 3 of these basketball games during the summer simply because they needed someone to run the games.

All the games I experienced were running clock and the coaches wanted me to call few fouls, so the game was not taken up entirely by free throws.

One would ask what the point of having an official was without calling all the fouls

and the answer is I was only there to keep the players in line so the players did not get hurt, so only hard stuff was called.

I would strongly suggest someone start out as a basketball official this way because it is a whole lot easier and is a way to expose yourself more to the basketball community to try and get hired for more games.

Post 2

@matthewc23 - I absolutely agree, it is way too easy for one to become a basketball official and it seems like the only way the certification is controlled at all is by the athletic directors that do the hiring for games.

Also, as far as what you said about girls basketball goes I could not agree more, especially with the officiating at smaller schools.

Most officials want to do varsity boys games because they are bigger basketball games and the competition is higher, but the girls basketball games are the ones that are usually more open as far as hiring goes and it is also an easy way for someone to get their foot in the door.

I would suggest that

someone though not get involved in high school right away and look to officiate games during the summer camps as these seem to be more lucrative opportunities and also allows for coaches to see the official in action before the official season starts.
Post 1

I live in Illinois and I have to say it is fairly easy to become a basketball official. I guarantee if fans found out how easy it is to be a basketball official they may begin to get more cat calls on the court directed at the officials.

In order to become a certified official all one has to do is decide to pay a very small fee, which is less than 100 dollars as well as take the online test, which people in reality cheat on with other officials, and then one is considered a certified official and must only go through one clinical a year, but do not have to do so to start out.

As far as

getting hired by schools to do games one must first look at junior high games and get their name out there for future games.

Usually it takes a while for someone to get hired to do varsity boys games, but if someone wants to jump start their career I would suggest volunteering to do girls basketball games as every official wants to do varsity boys games.

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