How to Become a College Baseball Umpire

Umpiring college level baseball can be a very achievable goal for many umpires looking to advance their careers. The pay is decent and the advanced, fast paced game play is exciting and rewarding. It also gives you the opportunity to see up-and-coming players who may one day make an impact at the major league level.

College baseball umpires must perform at a very high level. Requirements do differ depending on the conference but there is a general high standard everyone must meet. For some conferences there is a test you have to pass so you’ll need some experience, usually several years of High School baseball, and a keen understanding of league rules. The Collegiate Baseball Umpires Association requires members to have at least five years of high school experience and to be an active member of an accredited board of high school umpires. However, some local collegiate associations will accept minor league experience or even just graduation from a professional umpire school.  Just like any goal, becoming a college umpire requires a lot of dedication and perseverance.

Starting in youth baseball is an obvious path that many current college umpires have taken. The bar to entry is much lower and the best part is you get on the job training. Once you’ve had a few years experience umpiring games the next step is taking on high school baseball games. While learning the rules and experiencing real life game play is valuable there are other experiences to consider that working high school baseball games can help you with. For example, coaches and fans at the high school level get much more intense. Handling an angry coach is an art that can only be mastered with practice.

Next, you’ll need to start preparing for the written NCAA rules exam and on-field mechanics test. Spend an hour a night reading the rulebook and quizzing yourself. Use all your high school and college studying tricks – flash cards, reciting the rules out loud, and it can’t hurt to have a friend help you.

Getting your foot in the door in a college conference, like any industry, is about who you know. So, attend umpire clinics with established college umpires or maybe approach a few after a game. Establish friendly relationships and eventually ask for recommendations and tips.

Lastly, reach out to collegiate umpire associations and let them know you’re out there and interested in becoming a college umpire.

How Much Do Umpires Make?

One of the first questions people ask when they start thinking about becoming an umpire is, how much do umps make?  In general amateur league pay is relatively consistent while professional, major league umpires can make substantially more, which is to be expected and probably not a surprise.

Major League umpires, according to, earn around $120,000 a year in salary when just starting out! More senior umpires can make  more that double that, up to $300,000 a year. MLB umps also get major league treatment. Their benefits include $340 a day for food and hotel, 4 weeks of vacation during the season, and they always fly first class. And the perks don’t stop there, once the post season hits the top rated umpires have the opportunity to ump the post season where they can earn an additional $20,000. While it may be extremely hard to break into the majors as an umpire, once you’re in you’re typically in for your career.

Youth baseball umpires are usually paid on per game basis and the pay rate, for the most part, is constant from league to league. A typical games pay is about $25-30 for the home plate umpire and $15-20 for the base umpire. Pay can increase for specialty tournaments and many leagues will increase per game pay with each year of service. Accredited umpires who have attend the proper school(s) are typically paid more per game, as well. Little League is the exception as their rules state that umpires should be volunteer workers and are not to be paid – however, in practice this rule is often overlooked. To get more detailed information on pay you should contact your local leagues and tournament directors. Youth baseball umpire also often get small perks. Most leagues, for example, will allow umpires to eat and drink for free from their concessions stand. Free T-Shirts and other memorabilia is also a common give away.

Umpiring youth baseball leagues can be a source of additional income, however, most people view it as an exciting hobby first and foremost. There is a lot of value in getting off your couch and getting involved in the community.

Here’s a quick break down of general pay expectations, but please keep in mind that different regions will pay different amounts:


Do you want to become an umpire? What is your goal?

Become a College Umpire >

Become a High School Umpire >

Become a Little League Umpire >

Become a MLB Umpire >

Become a Babe Ruth Umpire >


How to Become an Umpire

What is your goal?

Starting your career as an umpire isn’t difficult and it can be a lot of fun. Below you’ll find information on what to expect and how you can achieve your goal of becoming an umpire.

Expect the work to be physically demanding. You will need to jog often to ensure you position yourself properly to make an accurate call. Basically, you need to be agile enough to keep up with the pace of the game. It’s also important to consider the weather in your area – depending on your location, hot and/or colder temperatures can be a burden on your body. As the player’s get older and the game competition increases the demands on your body will also increase. If you’re new to umpiring you might be best served by umpiring younger age groups first.

Step 1: Attend a Baseball  Association Meeting or Clinic – The easiest way to learn the umpiring landscape in your area is to meet people who are involved in the community. An easy way to find one is to attend a local game and ask the officiating crew which association they belong to. You can also call the athletic departments at local organizations or visit their websites. Many will post information for umpires.

Step  2:  Learn the Rules of the Leagues You Will Umpire In — Once you’ve identified some of the leagues you may want to officiate you need to develop a sound understanding of the rules. Don’t rely on your years as a ball player. Many of the “rules” that circulate in youth leagues are incorrect. Go to the source and do some reading.

Step  3: Join an Organization or Association — After attending a few association meetings you may be ready to join an organization. This will give you a leg up by keeping you plugged into what’s going on in your area and will push you to keep on the umpiring path.

Step  4:  Get in Shape — Before you attend your first clinic you may want to start to get into shape. Start a jogging routine, play some basketball, or better yet join a men’s baseball or softball league. Or, just hit the gym. You don’t want to be ready for first job and it’s good to get into a routine early.

Step 5: Get Trained –  Attend clinics, camps and classes recommended by your association so that you know proper form and mechanics. Being formally trained is what separates amateur umpires to professional officiants. If your goal is to become a college, MiLB or MLB umpire you will need to attend professional umpire school. Click here to learn more about the cost of professional umpire school.

Step 6:Pass Your Tests — Take the tests administered by your sanctioning body (umpire association). The most common affiliations are; Pony, NSA, BPA, and ASA.

Step  7:  Get Your Protective Equipment and UniformPurchase your uniform and the necessary umpire equipment.

  1. Black Umpire Shoes
  2. Black Athletic Socks
  3. Black Umpire Belt
  4. Baseball Umpire Pants and Shorts
  5. Umpire Uniform Shirt (over 10 different colors) - color requirements vary
  6. Umpire Masks / Umpire Helmets
  7. Umpire Shin / Leg Guards
  8. Umpire Chest Protector
  9. Ball Bag
  10. Plate Brush
  11. Balls, Strikes, Out Counter
  12. Referee Watch and Game Timer
  13. Lineup Cards & Pencil
  14. Performance Base Under Gear
  15. 2-Inch Bill Combination Cap