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Sports Official

Sports officials ensure that players observe established rules and regulations at sporting events (games or competitions).

  • Avg. Salary $5,429.00
  • Avg. Wage $17.70
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook above avg
  • Employed < 1500
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Evaluator, Linesman, Judge, Referee, Technical Controller / Specialist, Umpire

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Sports Officials and Referees (5253) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Sports Officials and Referees (F153) 
  • 2011 NOC: Sports officials and referees (5253) 
  • 2016 NOC: Sports officials and referees (5253) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Interest Codes
The Sports Official is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Sports Officials and Referees

Interest in signalling to start and stop games; and in recording lapsed time and keeping scores during events, in compiling scores and other athletic records, and in verifying credentials of athletes and animals engaged in sports and related special events


Interest in analyzing the performance of competitors to award points, impose penalties for infractions and determine results; and in observing and enforcing rules and regulations governing sporting events, athletic games and sports competitions and in responding to written protests


Interest in establishing and maintaining rapport with coaches, players and organizing committees, and in conferring with opposing teams and players when required to settle disputes

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Updated Mar 31, 2020

Sports officials maintain standards of play and enforce the rules and regulations that govern their sport. They may specialize in sports such as football, hockey, curling, baseball, figure skating, and ski jumping. In general, sports officials ensure the sport is played in a safe and fair manner. They:

  • Ensure safe playing conditions
  • Keep track of playing time and elapsed time, and start and stop play when required
  • Award points
  • Assess and enforce penalties when necessary
  • Establish and maintain rapport with coaches, players, and organizing committees

Depending on the sport, they also may keep track of the score and other athletic records. They may:

  • Judge performance and determine results
  • Verify calculations before medal presentations
  • Respond to written protests
  • Verify competitors’ credentials
  • Check that equipment follows guidelines for the sport

In some sports, officials use hand signals to communicate their decisions.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Sports officiating is often strenuous. It demands close attention to detail and involves a great deal of pressure and concentration. Evening and weekend work is common. Travel to attend games or tournaments is expected. Depending on the sport, officials may work indoors or outdoors. In some cases, officials routinely lift heavy items or wear protective gear to prevent injury.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Sports officials need:

  • An interest in the sport
  • Confidence
  • A good memory for details
  • Good vision
  • Communication and interpersonal skills
  • The ability to make quick, fair, correct judgments
  • The ability to remain alert and focused on the competition
  • The ability to remain calm and controlled under pressure
  • The willingness to ask for feedback and accept criticism

They should enjoy having clear rules and guidelines for their work, analyzing and directing the performance of others, and dealing with people.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Sports officials must have extensive knowledge of their sport and its rules. They must be certified and registered with the governing body or commission responsible for the sport. For details, see Certification Requirements.

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Although no legislation currently regulates this occupation, employers require certification.

Requirements for registration and certification vary from sport to sport. For example:

  • Baseball umpires must be trained through the National Umpire Certification Program administered in Alberta by Baseball Alberta.
  • Curling officials for district and provincial playdowns, and national championship games, are appointed by the Canadian Curling Association.
  • Figure skating evaluators must be members of Skate Canada.
  • Football officials must be members of local associations that are members of Football Alberta.
  • Hockey officials begin in provincial amateur leagues and take part in the Hockey Alberta officiating program. To become senior officials they must work their way through levels of the Canadian Hockey officiating program.
  • Ski jumping officials must be members of Ski Jumping Canada.
  • Swim officials are volunteers certified by Swim Alberta.
  • Volleyball officials are governed by Volleyball Canada, and provincial and zone associations.

Many sports have different certification requirements for different levels of competition. For information, contact the governing or official body for the sport.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Employment opportunities for sports officials at the professional level are limited. Most officials in amateur sports are volunteers or are paid per game. They officiate as a hobby or to supplement income from other sources.

Sports officials may be selected to work at provincial and national tournaments as they progress through the levels of an officiating program. Officiating at the Alberta Summer or Winter Games or national championship games offers a chance to showcase their skills and perhaps be invited to move to a higher level of their sport.

For example:

  • The National Umpire Certification Program may recommend amateur baseball umpires to umpire provincial, Western Canada, or national championships. Or they may recommend them for part-time or fill-in positions for professional and semi-professional games in Alberta.
  • After they gain experience and expertise, football officials are assigned to officiate at more advanced levels (such as college or university games). These assignments are most often given to officials with extensive experience and knowledge of football rules. Local amateur associations may recommend amateur officials with several years of experience to the Canadian Football League (CFL). The CFL invites a very small number to attend the training program held prior to each football season.
  • Hockey officials can progress from officiating minor hockey to the Western Hockey League (WHL). The National Hockey League (NHL) recruits officials from the WHL. The NHL selects an average of one official per year for full-time work.
  • Ski jumping officials at the divisional level may progress to national and international levels.
  • All levels of swim officials are volunteers.

Sports officials are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 5253: Sports Officials and Referees. In Alberta, 83% of people employed in the classification work in the Information, Culture and Recreation [pdf] industry.

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Trends and events affecting overall employment, especially in the Information, Culture and Recreation industry
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

In Alberta, the 5253: Sports officials and referees occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 10% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 20 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Most sports officials are paid a set fee per game. Fees vary from one sport to another and depend on the level of sport.

Sports officials and referees

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $16.50 $16.38 $16.50
Overall $15.00 $18.10 $17.70 $18.10
Top $15.00 $21.00 $20.07 $21.00

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

C: Lower Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Lower Reliability, represents a CV of between 15.01% and 33.00% and/or if fewer than 20 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 33% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information
Information, Culture, Recreation

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


Vacancy Rate

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Physical Education and Recreation
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Alberta Sport Connection website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2020. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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