How to Become a USATF Certified Official

USA Track & Field provides a national program for the training and certifying officials for the sports of track and field, race walking and long distance running. This is administered locally by USATF Associations through a Certification Chair and committee structure.

USATF Officials adhere to a Code of Conduct which promotes an athlete centered proactive philosophy of officiating and service to the sport. Officials seek to provide objective oversight to ensure that each athlete is given an equal and fair opportunity to compete.

The National Track and Field Officials Committee is committed to promoting racial and gender diversity. This is being achieved through an active program of recruitment and creating increased opportunities for major officiating responsibilities, particularly for previously under-represented groups, in all event officiating skill areas.

How to Become Certified

To become a USATF Certified Track and Field Official one must:

Every newly certified official is then assigned a six-digit permanent certification number (e.g., 002679) and entered into a national database--currently over 8,300 certified officials are included in USATF's computer database. Officials are also issued a permanent identification card and a pin by the National Coordinator of Officials. Officials will also periodically receive other information of general interest.

Certification Levels - Association, National and Master

Initially, without regard for past experience, each newly certified official enters at the "Association" level and must serve two track and field seasons at the Association level prior to being considered for advancement to the "National" level. Skill areas are determined by experience and demonstrated competency. Those new to officiating may be certified as Association level official without any identified skill level. In addition to two seasons at the Association level, a candidate for advancement to the National level is to also submit a resume of meets worked during the Association level period.

Those outstanding officials who are capable of serving as the head official at a national championship can be considered for advancement to "Master" level status. To be considered for the Master level, the candidate must serve a minimum of two seasons at the "Association" level and three additional seasons at the "National" level. The candidate then must submit a letter to the local Association Certification Chair explaining how she/he has gained a full mastery of specific officiating skills, provide letters of recommendation from a current Master level official and either a coach or meet director familiar with the official's officiating competency and solid judgment.

Additional progression standards may be imposed by the local Association.

Skill Ratings

USATF provides system for awarding specific competency levels in 36 separate competition officiating skill areas. These skill proficiencies cover the sports disciplines of track, field, combined (multi) events, cross country, race walking and long distance running. One's rating in a given skill area (Association, National or Master) cannot be higher than her/his overall certification rating.

Certification and Skill Ratings Valid Only for Current Olympiad

All certification levels are sunsetted each 4-Year Olympiad. Renewal at any level is based on recent officiating activity and demonstrated competency during the preceding 4-year Olympiad. Thus, if an official has not been active or her/his skill level at a given officiating skill area has not remained to the standard for that level, she/he may have either the overall rating reduced one level or the rating for one or more skill areas reduced one level during the Olympiad recertification process (which begins January 1997). Retired officials are nominated for "Emeritus" status in recognition of their considerable contribution to the sport.

Eligibility for Officiating National and International Meets

Only those holding the "National" or "Master" level certifications are considered to be eligible to officiate in Championship meets conducted by USATF outside of the individual's home association. Generally, competition officials for major events are selected by a Selection Committee which includes representatives of USATF Standing Sport Committees, the Officials Committee and a representative of the local organizing committee.

Officials Serve Without Expectation of Compensation

Officials are in service to the sport. All officials serve without expectation of compensation, although Championship meets are expected to provide free or reduced cost lodging and meals and other forms of appreciation to those officiating the competition.

Association Certification Chairs

To learn more about your local certification program, please contact your Association Certification Chair.