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How to become a Sports Official

What is sports official?

Sports officials are responsible for maintaining integrity and fairness. They need a deep love of the sport they’re officiating and belief in the concept of fair play. Without umpires and referees sport wouldn’t function at all, so they’re very important roles!

What qualifications do I need to become a sports official?

Whatever the sport you choose, it’s usually simple enough to pick up the initial qualification. In football, for example, the basic referee’s course is quite short and enables you to get straight out and officiate games once you’ve completed it.

What skills/experience will an employer look for?

Confidence in your own ability is vital for any budding sports official. Communication is also important, as is the ability to manage people and an authoritarian streak. You’ll be able to pick up experience and develop your ability once you’ve qualified and officials are always in demand.

Who might employ a sports official?

-Sports clubs

-Sporting associations

-Schools and universities

What salary can I expect?

Officials are usually paid by the match, to the tune of £20-£30 initially, and may get their travel expenses covered too. Officials at the very highest level can expect considerably more – Premier League referees earn in excess of £60,000 per year.

What is my career progression?

Very few sports officials are full-time and the majority do it around an existing job. For those who are dedicated enough there are opportunities to officiate at higher levels but in general the skills you develop by doing so can be used in other fields to improve your employability. Communication, management and confidence in yourself are all extremely useful skills to possess.

What are the best things about becoming a sports official?

Sports officiating is very flexible and usually pays reasonably well. It’s particularly good for people who want to supplement their income with a small part-time role or for those working around their studies. The further up the ladder you go, the better the quality of sport on offer too, so you might end up working with some very talented sportspeople.

Are there any drawbacks?

Officials are usually unpopular! It depends on the sport, but you might have to expect some level of discontent and perhaps abuse as part of the job. Again, depending on the sport you might also have to work in all conditions.

Why not view our latest sports vacancies or sign up for job alerts.

More information:

For more information, advice and guidance about careers in PE, Sport, Training and Fitness and Activity Holiday Jobs, visit our careers advice centre; including job hunting tips,  CV guide and much more.​

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