How to Become a College Umpire
Many aspiring baseball umpires prefer to work at the college level. It’s high caliber baseball, but the season is shorter and there’s less travel than professional baseball. While the actual requirements differ from conference to conference, there is a high standard that must be met. Some college leagues have umpire governing associations that require you to pass a test. College umpiring isn’t for rookies. You often need years of seasoning working as a high school umpire. Also, you must demonstrate knowledge of the rules. Becoming a college umpire is a tough road, but attainable for people willing to put in the time.
How to Become a College Umpire
Have an interest and, preferably, experience playing baseball. If you never played, though, it doesn’t disqualify you from becoming an umpire. There is, however, a nuance and feel to the game that you only pick up by playing. That intangible translates to your work as an umpire.
Gain experience. Many umpires start in youth baseball and move up to the high school level. Once they feel comfortable behind the plate, they start looking for college jobs. The Collegiate Baseball Umpires Association of New England, which provides umpires for nearly 100 colleges in New England, requires its members to have five years of high school varsity experience and to be an active member of an accredited high school umpires board.
Know the rules by heart. The college level isn’t a place for umpires to be learning on the spot. You’ll likely have to take a written NCAA rules test and on-field mechanics test.
Get recommended by umpires who already work in the conference or association where you’re trying to get hired. Some associations require two or three recommendations.
Attend umpire clinics. Professional umpires give seminars and training at clinics. You’ll pick up tips and get to meet other umpires.
Network with established umpires. This is one way to get recommendations in the future. You could meet umpires at clinics, or simply approach them after a college game. Then, keep in touch with them. It’s a good chance someone will take an interest in you.
Contact collegiate umpiring associations or college conferences. Let the board of directors know you’re interested in one day becoming a college umpire. Keep them updated on your career.
Stay in shape. Squatting for a couple hours isn’t easy.
Try to umpire in a college summer league or American Legion regional tournaments. You’ll get a taste of college ball, and high-level baseball. It will help your résumé.
You probably won’t be hired to umpire in a top conference, like the Atlantic Coast (ACC) or Southeastern (SEC) right away. You might have to start off at NCAA Division III or NAIA before moving up.
- Stay in shape. Squatting for a couple hours isn't easy.
- Try to umpire in a college summer league or American Legion regional tournaments. You'll get a taste of college ball, and high-level baseball. It will help your résumé.
- You probably won't be hired to umpire in a top conference, like the Atlantic Coast (ACC) or Southeastern (SEC) right away. You might have to start off at NCAA Division III or NAIA before moving up.
A.M. David's articles have appeared in "The Washington Post" and several regional publications in a career spanning more than 15 years. He has also written for the "Princeton Packet" chain. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.