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Occupational Profile

Sports Official

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

  • Avg. Salary N/A
  • Avg. Wage N/A
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook N/A
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

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

NOC & Interest Codes
The Sports Official is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Sports Officials and Referees
NOC code: 5253
METHODICAL

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

DIRECTIVE

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

social

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

Duties
Updated Mar 31, 2016

Sports officials are responsible for maintaining standards of play and enforcing the rules and regulations that govern their sport (for example, football, hockey, curling, baseball, figure skating, ski jumping). In general, sports officials:

  • ensure the sport is played in a safe and fair manner
  • 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
  • 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, 2016

Officiating often is strenuous work that demands close attention to detail and involves a great deal of pressure and concentration. Evening and weekend work is common. Travel often is required.

Depending on the sport, officials may work indoors or outdoors. In some sports, officials routinely lift heavy items or wear protective gear to prevent injury.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2016

Sports officials need the following characteristics:

  • a genuine interest in the sport
  • the ability to make quick, fair, correct judgments
  • confidence
  • good communication and interpersonal skills
  • a good memory for details
  • good vision
  • the ability to remain alert and focused on the competition
  • the ability to remain calm under pressure and maintain control
  • the ability 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, 2016

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

Requirements for registration and certification vary greatly from sport to sport:

  • 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 officials, are appointed by the Canadian Curling Association.
  • Figure skating evaluators must be members of Skate Canada
  • Football officials are members of local associations that are members of Football Alberta. New members work under the direction of qualified officials and participate in various training seminars. The Canadian Football League (CFL) requires its officials to have at least 8 to 12 years of experience officiating amateur football games.
  • Hockey officials also begin in provincial amateur leagues and participate in the Hockey Alberta officiating program. To work in higher levels of competitive hockey, officials work their way through levels of the Canadian Hockey officiating program to become senior officials (based on ability and experience as evaluated by the executive of the local association).
  • Ski jumping officials must be members of Ski Jumping Canada. They must pass examinations to work at divisional, national and international levels.
  • Swim officials are volunteers certified by Swim Alberta.
  • Volleyball officials are governed by Volleyball Canada, and provincial and zone associations.

In many sports, there are different certification requirements for different levels of competition. For specific information, contact the governing body for the sport or the official body representing the sport.

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

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2016

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 Championships is an opportunity to showcase their skills and potentially receive an invitation to move to a higher level of their sport.

For example,

  • Amateur baseball umpires may be recommended by the National Umpire Certification Program to umpire Provincial, Western Canada or National championships or 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 (for example, college or university games). For the most part, these assignments are given only to officials who have extensive experience and knowledge of the rules of football. Amateur officials who have several years of experience are recommended by local amateur associations to the Canadian Football League (CFL) for consideration. A very small number are invited by the CFL to attend the training program held prior to each football season.
  • Hockey officials can progress from officiating minor hockey to the Western Hockey League. National Hockey League (NHL) officials are recruited from the Western Hockey League. An average of 1 official per year is selected for full time employment in the NHL.
  • 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 industry.

The employment outlook in this occupation will be 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 (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

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

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2016

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 High School Subjects
  • Physical Education
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Physical Education and Recreation
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 31, 2016

Alberta Sport Connection website: www.albertasport.ca

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 25, 2016. 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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