Become an Umpire
How Do I Become a Professional Umpire?
The job of a professional baseball umpire requires quick thinking, common sense, and confidence. When the ball is in play, the umpire sees the action, assesses the situation and makes the call -- all in a matter of seconds. The successful umpire has a thorough knowledge of the rulebook, is even-tempered, and is mentally strong enough to handle situations under stressful conditions. A professional umpire is expected to hustle, be alert, be in excellent physical condition, and have a neat appearance.
Each year Minor League Baseball Umpire Development recommends new candidates to serve as umpires for Minor League Baseball. These candidates have good training, strong ability as umpires, and a keen desire to succeed.
Umpires seeking a job in professional baseball must meet some basic requirements. Each applicant must have:
- High School diploma or G.E.D.
- Reasonable body weight
- 20/20 vision (with or without glasses or contact lenses)
- Good communication skills
- Quick reflexes and good coordination
- Some athletic ability
- Required preliminary training for the job (i.e., professional umpire school)
- A driving record that makes him or her insurable and able to drive employer-provided transportation
The first step to pursuing a career as a professional umpire is to attend a professional umpire training school. These schools traditionally run for a period of four-five weeks during January and February each year. At the end of the training, the schools recommend their top graduates to the Minor League Baseball Umpire Development staff. Minor league Baseball Umpire Development then extends a formal invitation to participate and compete at the Minor League Baseball Advanced Course to those graduates who meet the requirements and criteria. Graduation from one of these schools does not guarantee an invitation to the Advanced Course or a job in Minor League Baseball.
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During the Minor League Baseball Advanced Course, each umpire's performance and abilities are evaluated by the Minor League Baseball Umpire Development staff. At the conclusion of the course the students are ranked, based on performance, and recommendations are then made to the Minor League Presidents regarding additions to their umpire staffs.
Those selected from the Advanced Course will start their careers in either a Rookie or Short-A Minor League. While progressing from Class A to Class Double-A to Class Triple-A leagues, the umpire receives valuable training and experience which may provide an opportunity to become a Major League umpire. It usually takes seven to eight years of umpiring professional baseball at the Minor League level before the umpire is considered for a position at the Major League level.