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.