Umpiring is a challenging and exciting undertaking—getting started is the hardest part!

Ask any question about the Fox Valley Blues or umpiring in our association by contacting us.

Interested in joining? Fill out our pre-application.

What kind of time commitment should I expect?

That's up to you. A benefit of the Fox Valley Blues (FVB) is our flexible assigning practices. In a given season, some umpires work as many as 200 games and as few as 25.

Prior to the baseball/softball season, umpires complete their availability calendar so the assignor is aware of umpires' preferences. For example, several umpires choose to officiate only weekend or night games to accommodate their work schedules.

Time spent studying the rules can add to the time dedicated to umpiring, but this is at the discretion each individual umpire.

How much money can I make and How do I get paid?  

High school contests yield around $52-64 for a single game, and Travel and Rec League games range from $50-60.   An umpire may work anywhere from 1-15 games per week from late March through October.

Schools will pay you directly, ranging from directly at the field to maybe 2-3 weeks later depending on the school.  Non-school games are paid directly from FVB monthly.  FVB prides ourselves in paying our Umpires higher and faster than any other organization.  We offer several flexible payment options including Arbiter Pay, Chase Quickpay and Paypal.  We also offer a "Pay me Now" feature where an umpire can request an advance payment prior to standard FVB pay periods.

All of our payment procedures can be reviewed here


What's needed to get started?  

FVB will guide you through the entire process.

The first step is to register with the IHSA at www.ihsa.org.

The next step is to set up a profile on the FVB site.

Next, a uniform and equipment are required, and can quite expensive. But FVB will walk you through this process and greatly minimize these costs for you:

  • FVB sponsors several Garage Sales each spring, where we sell used equipment and uniforms donated back from our members, back to new umpires for pennies on the dollar.
  • A uniform shirt/pants can cost as little as $75 and an equipment starter package will run as low as $150. Once onboarded as a member, you will be given access to our dress code and a complete list of approved online vendors.
  • Umpires usually find the initial outlay of cash for equipment and apparel negligible compared to the potential income from game fees.

Additionally, clinics  and class sessions are offered in the Spring and are free to FVB members.

As an umpire in Illinois, your independent-contractor status makes these expenses tax-deductible.

Must I have prior playing experience to umpiring?   No. Your dedication to the sport and desire to be a part of it is all that is required.

Will I need to take a test? Attend training?  

FVB encourages all members to be IHSA registered. Part of the IHSA registration process is an open book, 40-question examination.  FVB facilitates a class session to review the exam.

As part of the FVB training, we hold test sessions with our new umpires to ensure they understand these examination questions.

Thereafter, umpires attend several training sessions offered by FVB, including full scale IHSA Certified Clinics, class sessions at are high schools, online webinars and more!  Once you are onboarded you will be provided the entire training curicullum so you can choose what works best for you.  We also have a discussion page on Facebook, where our members engage in new discussions daily.


Will I receive feedback?  

Your performance on the field directly correlates to your satisfaction with umpiring. Providing you with feedback is a priority for our association and we make every effort to make that feedback worthwhile. You can also take advantage of our state of the art Evaluation system. Umpires can go online, request an eveluation for an upcoming game, the request is emailed to all of our evaluators, who would go and select it. They come out to watch you, discuss it with you in person, and then submit an online eval that only you will see. This is the first of it's kind process in Illinois.

Is there a minimum age?  

The minimum age is 17 to work high school games.

As part of our feeder program, we do accept umpires at age 16 with prior experience into FVB.

In 2017 we launched a Youth Umpire program called JVB (JV Blues), aimed at 13-16 year old Youth Umpire students.  The program was very successful and is being expanded in 2018 and beyond.  Click here for more details.


Must I be physically fit?  

Umpiring can be as strenuous as playing. We require that umpires are able to arrive at plays quickly so the best judgment is applied to every situation.  Perception is reality and our training sessions include topics covering nutrition, harnessing energy, and pregame conditioning.


How much travel is involved?  

The ever-expanding reach of the Fox Valley Blues make travel for FVB easier than ever.

Umpires around Chicagoland and Rockford find that FVB game sites are not far from where they live or work. Travel is always left to the preference of the individual umpire. The location of your job and home can influence these preferences.

Assignments are made to ensure umpires officiate games close to home when possible.

Some FVB umpires, however, find better variety and quality-of-play as an incentive for additional travel.

What levels of baseball or softball can I umpire?  

Experience, skill, dedication and hustle influence games assigned.

The opportunities available to FVB umpires range from Little League to college/semipro.

FVB umpires have the chance to make the assignor aware of their preferences for each level of baseball.

Would I be an employee of the Fox Valley Blues?  

No. We are merely an agent to broker games between umpires and leagues, schools, and other baseball programs.

  • As an umpire, you are considered an independent contractor.
  • Your independent contractor status gives you the bonus of tax deductibility of your expenses.
  • As a not-for-profit educational organization, FVB does not hold liability for worker's compensation or unemployment insurance. Taxes are not withheld, but 1099 tax forms are issued annually.

Interested in an umpiring career with the Fox Valley Blues? Let us know!

We're always looking for good umpires to fill our ranks!