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Referees officiate an array of high school sports throughout the United States. Referees are employed to football, basketball, soccer and ice hockey. Officials of other sports such as baseball, tennis, track and field, and swimming are also employed on the high school level.
High school referees are responsible for on-field observance of games as they are played. Each official enforces game rules and cites players with penalties when rules are broken. Some referees, such as swimming officials, officiate from the sidelines away from players. Depending on the sport, some travel is required, usually on the regional or state level. Hours include evenings, weekends and occasional holidays.
A high school diploma is commonly required to work as a high school referee, umpire or official. Most states also require referees to complete a training course and obtain an officiating permit after passing a written examination. Depending on the sport, referees must be in adequate physical shape, as running alongside players is often required.
High school referees are usually paid per game. The highest pay is available at the varsity level. For example, a football referee may be paid $45 for working a freshman or junior varsity game and $100 for a varsity game. Travel expenses are usually not reimbursed at the high school level.
Industry Salary Averages
There are approximately 15,300 referees, umpires and other officials working in the United States, the U.S. Department of Labor reported in 2010. Those who officiate spectator sports such as football, soccer, baseball, basketball and ice hockey, earned a salary of approximately $27,100 per year in 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, in states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York, officials earned between $42,000 and nearly $60,000 per year.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Umpires, Referees and Other Sports Officials
- Ohio High School Athletic Association: How to Obtain an OHSAA Officiating Permit
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: 2010-11 Occupational Handbook, Athletes, Coaches, Umpires and Related Workers
- Refstripes.com: Getting Started in Officiating
Jim Hagerty is a writer and journalist who began writing professionally in 1996. He has had articles published in the "Rock River Times," "Builder's Journal" and various websites. He earned a Bachelor of Science in public relations and journalism from Northern Michigan University in Marquette.