Umpires are needed at all levels of competitive baseball. While those working in many youth leagues are unpaid volunteers, umpires are paid to work games at higher levels. On the Division I collegiate level, umpires are hired by athletic conferences and the National Collegiate Athletic Assocation and work games throughout the country. During post season play, select umpires are chosen to work tournaments including the College World Series.
Nature of Work
Umpires at the Division I level usually work in teams of two, three or four. The head umpire calls balls and strikes from behind the catcher while others, called base umpires, work the field. Travel is required and night, weekend and holiday games are played throughout the season. Some umpires have jobs in other fields, while others work year-round in various leagues.
Training and Education
While a college degree is not required to be a college baseball umpire, it is a requirement to graduate from umpiring school approved by the NCAA. Schools offer classroom instruction and training in live game settings. Schools require 20/20 vision, high school diploma or G.E.D., and acceptable physical and athletic ability. Some college umpires are former players who continue working in baseball after graduation.
Division I Salary Averages
Division I umpires usually work as independent contractors and are paid per game. While they can earn more on the college level, most umpires average between nearly $16,000 to about $50,000 per year, according to the Amateur Baseball Umpires Association. Travel-related expenses such as meals and hotels are also commonly reimbursed. Some college umpires work their way into the minor leagues and Major League Baseball, where they earn considerably more.
Industry Salary Averages
College umpires are categorized by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics with referees and other sports officials. Industry-wide, the average salary for officials of spectator sports is approximately $27,500 per year, the Department of Labor reported in 2010. In top-paying states, such as Oklahoma and Michigan, officials average between nearly $42,000 and $60,000.
2016 Salary Information for Umpires, Referees, and Other Sports Officials
Umpires, referees, and other sports officials earned a median annual salary of $25,660 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, umpires, referees, and other sports officials earned a 25th percentile salary of $20,040, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $39,820, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 21,100 people were employed in the U.S. as umpires, referees, and other sports officials.