Umpire/Referee  What They Do

Just the Facts


Officiates at competitive athletic or sporting events. Detects infractions of rules and decides penalties according to established regulations.

This career is part of the Hospitality and Tourism cluster Recreation, Amusements and Attractions pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Officiates at sporting events, games, or competitions, to maintain standards of play and to ensure that game rules are observed.
  • Signals participants or other officials to make them aware of infractions or to otherwise regulate play or competition.
  • Inspects sporting equipment and/or examines participants in order to ensure compliance with event and safety regulations.
  • Keeps track of event times, including race times and elapsed time during game segments, starting or stopping play when necessary.
  • Judges performances in sporting competitions in order to award points, impose scoring penalties, and determine results.
  • Starts races and competitions.
  • Resolves claims of rule infractions or complaints by participants and assesses any necessary penalties, according to regulations.
  • Confers with other sporting officials, coaches, players, and facility managers in order to provide information, coordinate activities, and discuss problems.
  • Directs participants to assigned areas such as starting blocks or penalty areas.
  • Verifies scoring calculations before competition winners are announced.

Insider Info

Dig into the details and check out what people in this job have to say about their work.



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Umpires, Referees, and other Sports Officials

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 10 lbs., sometimes up to 20 lbs. You might do a lot of walking or standing, or you might sit but use your arms and legs to control machines, equipment or tools.
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation requires being outside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves walking or running more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Irregular hours
  • Seasonal work
  • Weekend work

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Equestrian Events Judge -- Judges horse events.
  • Handicapper -- Assigns advantage through scoring compensation or other advantage given to different contestants to equalize the chances of winning.
  • Pit Steward -- Determines qualifying order of vehicles for each race based on trial event results or by drawing numbers.
  • Race Starter -- Waves signal flags of different color and design to start and stop automobile or motorcycle race and to inform drivers of track condition.