According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics within the U.S. Department of Labor, referees, coaches and umpires earned a median salary of $23,370 in May of 2008, with median salaries between $17,410 and $33,150. Of all referees within the institutional and academic setting, college referees typically earned the largest salaries.
Referees are responsible for officiating competitive sporting events and ensuring that players uphold the official rules of each of those games. Referees have the authority to make judgment calls, to award points, to assess penalties and to announce winners in some sports events or matches that are tied. Referees may also be responsible for verifying points and tabulating final scores, starting races or games and signaling players called for infractions.
As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the bottom 10 percent of all referees, umpires and coaches earned less than $15,450. The top 10 percent earned over $48,310. Of these reported earnings, the top salaries were paid by colleges, professional clubs or schools and universities. However, many colleges pay their referees hourly to officiate individual events.
Job Requirements and Outlook
Referees officiating large college conference sports events must typically live within the conference boundaries and have extensive college officiating experience. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 16,500 referees or other sports officials in 2008, and of that number, about 50 percent worked part-time or intermittently, officiating only specific events or conferences. The federal government expects a 23 percent growth between 2008 and 2018 for all athletes, referees, umpires, coaches and related workers.
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Licensure and Certification
Licensure depends on the type of sport referees oversee and where they reside. Not all jurisdictions require referees to obtain specific types of licenses; not all athletic regulations require specific certification. However, college referees are required to obtain special certification and have an understanding of the rules that apply to their athletic profession. Additionally, some schools require referees to undergo extensive criminal background investigations and pass drug tests. College referees must obtain formal certification through officiating schools and are subject to probationary periods.