You don’t need to be an athlete to play an essential role in Major League Baseball. Many crucial MLB jobs need to be filled for the league to operate, including that of an umpire. If your dream is to officiate a professional baseball game and call the shots, don’t ignore the signs. You’re destined to be an MLB umpire.
How to Become an Umpire in Major League Baseball
Meet the Basic Criteria
There are specific criteria anyone must meet if they want to be an MLB umpire. You need to demonstrate that you are physically fit and possess fast reflexes. It’s also important that you have strong communication skills, as you’ll often need to explain your calls during games.
Additionally, either with or without glasses/contact lenses, you must possess 20/20 vision. As with all baseball jobs, you need to prove you thoroughly understand the rules of the sport as well.
Enroll in an Umpire Training Program
Anyone interested in becoming an umpire for MLB baseball should complete an umpire training program first, which is almost always a requirement. Fortunately, the MLB recommends umpire schools from which it prefers to recruit candidates.
You will need to spend some money to complete a training program. For instance, Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School (one of the training schools the MLB recommends) charges $1875 for tuition. Students must also cover additional fees, such as a technology and registration fee. Depending on where you live, you also might need to travel to complete a training program.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming you can bypass umpire training if you want to become an MLB umpire. Although you may be reluctant to spend money on a program, keep in mind that you’re investing in your future. Many baseball jobs require candidates to get an education before being considered for open positions.
Work Your Way Up
You must take umpire school as seriously as possible. That’s because, when training programs finish, only a relatively small percentage of participants get invited to the next step: an advanced course.
This course serves to determine whether you have the skills and commitment necessary to succeed as an umpire for the MLB. Instructors will carefully evaluate your performance in key areas. If they like what they see, they will recommend you as a candidate for an umpiring job in the minor leagues.
That’s another critical factor you need to understand if you’re genuinely interested in learning how to become an MLB umpire. As is the case with many jobs in sports, you’re not likely to land an umpiring job with MLB baseball when you first start your career. You’ll instead need to gain experience umpiring minor league games. Your goal is to consistently impress your employers until you are promoted up the ranks to Triple-A baseball. From there, you’re one step away from your dream MLB job.
That’s not supposed to discourage you. While you may be eager to start working for the MLB right now, the role that the umpire plays is crucial. You can’t just be good at your job; you need to be genuinely excellent. That’s why umpiring at the minor league level is beneficial. It allows you to get valuable experience and hone your skills to an even higher degree. By the time you get a job with the MLB, you’ll be thoroughly prepared.
How Much Does an MLB Umpire Make?
If you’re interested in sports jobs, it’s likely because you are genuinely passionate about sports. That said, like all people, you also need to consider certain practical factors when deciding what type of career you want to pursue. A job that doesn’t pay the bills may not be a viable option.
Luckily, that’s not an issue you need to worry about if you do eventually become an umpire for the MLB. Once again, umpires are expected to be highly skilled and are compensated accordingly.
The MLB reports that the starting salary for umpires in the major leagues is $120,000 a year. Umpires who have been working for the MLB for several years can even earn as much as $350,000. Additionally, the league covers expenses you might incur as a natural result of your work, such as travel expenses.
Becoming an MLB Umpire: Other Important Factors to Consider
The process of becoming an MLB umpire is so drawn out in part because there are very few spots available. Only a few hundred umpires work in the minor leagues, and the MLB rarely employs much more than 60 umpires during a given season. Because of this, the league must be very selective when choosing candidates. You’ll need to work hard to stand out among the competition.
You’ll also need to be comfortable with certain realities many baseball jobs share. For instance, MLB umpires don’t operate from a single home stadium. They are instead required to travel to games throughout the league’s territory. Although the prospect of a sports job that involves frequent travel may be appealing to some, others might prefer a more stable lifestyle. You need to decide which type of lifestyle is ideal for your goals.
That said, if you have a passion for baseball, becoming an umpire allows you to play a role that is arguably as important as the roles the athletes play on the field. If you follow these steps with commitment, you might get that rare chance.