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Sports Official

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

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

  • 5253: Sports Officials and Referees

2006 NOC-S

  • F153: Sports Officials and Referees

2011 NOC

  • 5253: Sports officials and referees

2016 NOC

  • 5253: Sports officials and referees

2021 NOC

  • 53202: Sports officials and referees

2023 OaSIS

  • 53202.00: Sports officials and referees
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
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

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.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Sports Officials and Referees

2006 NOC: 5253

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests


Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
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
  • Minimum Education Varies

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.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020
  • Certification Not Regulated

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.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 5253: Sports officials and referees occupational group, 75.5% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 5253: Sports officials and referees occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.8% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 6 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2021-2025 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

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.

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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