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An umpire is an official who's appointed to rule on plays. While most people associate an umpire with baseball, many other sports, such as tennis and softball, also have official umpires. Becoming an official is not as easy as most casual fans might think. Umpires must pass training, certification, tests and they will need experience at actual games to prove that they are capable of officiating at important events. The first step in becoming an umpire is to choose a sport, and then find the organization, such as Little League baseball, that handles the training and certification of officials for that sport.
The next step in becoming a certified umpire is to achieve the basic level of training. Once you've contacted the necessary organization, it will be able to give you information on available courses in your area and what you'll need to do to get started. Once you've taken this basic course, which will consist of rules, signaling and usually the etiquette and traditions of the game, you are ready to become certified. This may be done as the "final exam" of the training course so that everyone who graduates is certified, or it may be a separate test that you'll have to take after graduation, depending on the organization.
Once you've become certified as an umpire, the next move is up to you. Some people officiate at high school or middle school games on the weekends as a way to enjoy the sport and make extra money. Others are career umpires, officiating at more prestigious events, right up to college games and professional leagues. It's important to remember that, like other jobs, the bigger the responsibility placed on an umpire, the more experience and dedication he must show. Those with recent certifications must spend extensive time officiating at lower levels of competition.