Loved by some, hated by most, the MLB Umpire is the one who always has to make the hard, but fair calls. For a select team of individuals, only around 68-70 at any given point in time, it can sometimes be a long stressful job calling the rules of America’s Pastime. But are they at least well compensated for it? Here, we take a look at the average salary of an Major League Umpire, and how to become one if you so wish.
Average Salary for an MLB Umpire in 2022 – $235,000
Rookie umpires who are just starting out earn approximately $150,000 a year. Like most jobs, however, the pay goes up as you gain more experience. For example, it’s not uncommon for senior umpires, such as Joe West, to earn as much as $450,000 a year.
The job also comes with some nice perks. For one thing, MLB pays for all of the umpire’s flights—and they’re usually first class. Not only that but they also get four weeks of vacation during the regular season. This might seem like a lot, but it makes sense once you consider how physically and mentally raining the job is.
For the current season, the highest-paid MLB umpires are Bruce Froemming, Joe West, Joe Brinkman, Derryl Cousins, and Mike Reilly.
How do you become an MLB Umpire – Do you need to go to school?
To answer the first question, you don’t necessarily need to go to school, but it certainly helps. At time of writing there are about three separate Umpire academies (the adequately named “Umpire School”, “Harry Wendelstedt School for Umpires”, and “Jim Evan’s Academy of Professional Umping”) where one can enroll for a little over a month. During this time prospective umpires can get the tricks of the trade down and learn how to do their jobs more successfully.
What is more important than schooling in many situations however, is experience. To work your way up the be an MLB Umpire, you’ve really got to climb that job ladder. It helps to start early, volunteering for little leagues and high school games as an Umpire until you really get the hang of calling the shots. From there, you can apply to work for a local minor league, usually a Class A or Rookie league. Here, the pay is not great, but it’s a summer job and can land the Umpire about $6,000 for 3 months work. From here, you can with a bit of time jump to the classic A league, which has a longer season and with better pay (though only marginally). From here, you can be promoted to Double A leagues, with again a salary boost of around $200-$400 more a month. Keep in mind that switching leagues can also include switching commutes or even living situations: The smaller the league, in general, the smaller the town, and the bigger the league, the closer to a big city. Finally, there is the Triple A league, where you can get around $3,000 per month, and if you’re lucky have the chance to work in an MLB game and be selected for that tier. As one can imagine, the pay boost is sizeable, and it takes quite a few years to run this gambit. For MLB Umpires, travel is often required as Umpires are often cycled between the American and National team games. Most Umpires will end up working around a decade before being given the chance to work in the MLB, but that length may be growing by each season. Around 300 students come into the field each year at the lower levels, but again, only around 70 MLB positions are available, and many are taken by individuals who have no intent on retiring anytime soon. It would seem that the most enduring and useful quality for the MLB Umpire to be would be patience.