USATF Officials Certification Overview

Training and certification of officials is central to USATF's goal of ensuring fair and safe competitions.  As an official gains experience, exposure to correct officiating practices, and additional training, USATF recognizes this skill development through progressive levels of certification.  

Officials are certified on an overall basis, and also for specific event skills, at the various levels described below.   Advancement from one level to another is not automatic; it's earned through service and demonstrated proficiency.

Requirements for All Officials

To become a certified official or to recertify, individuals must:

  • Be a member in good standing with USA Track & Field for the current year
  • Complete an officials’ application or recertification form, including an agreement to uphold and follow the USATF Officials Code of Ethics and Performance Guidelines
  • Meet the certification requirements established below, including a passing score on an open-book rules review. 
  • Pay the certification fee established by their association
  • Complete the US Olympic Committee’s SafeSport training course
  • Complete a USATF background check
  • Provide a current photograph
  • Meet any additional requirements established by their association


Certification Levels, Grades and Criteria

Officials can be certified in a variety of disciplines, with each discipline falling under either a set of Levels or a set of Grades. 
 
Disciplines Governed by Levels 
Each official will have an overall certification level equal to their highest level of certification in a discipline.  An official’s overall level will automatically adjust the first time an upgrade to a higher level is achieved.  Any disciplines that fall under the system of grades will not affect the overall certification level.
 
Disciplines Governed by Grades
The following disciplines, each with their own criteria, are offered under the Grade System: Referees; Technical Managers; Combined Events Coordinators; Electronic Recorders, Measurers, and Judges; and Paralympic Track & Field.  For specific national criteria for these disciplines, see the USATF National Officials Committee Rules, Regulations, and Procedures for Certifying Competition Officials.
 
Certification requirements are applied to each discipline, independently of any other disciplines in which an official is certified.  Where requirements from one discipline overlap with another, then those requirements can be satisfied a single time.  When meeting some requirements, such as the number of meets worked, an official must have officiated that specific discipline at a meet in order for it to count towards an upgrade. If multiple events were officiated at a meet, then that one meet can count towards the requirements of those corresponding disciplines. With recommendation letters, if the recommending official has worked multiple disciplines with the official requesting an upgrade, then the same letter will count for all of those disciplines.

Apprentice Level
New Officials   When first certified by USATF, all individuals will become Apprentice level officials regardless of the number of years they have been officiating.  This provides a range of officiating experience and understanding of the expectations and responsibilities in being a USATF certified official. The association will attempt to provide mentoring to guide this official.  To become an Apprentice level official, individuals must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Complete an open book examination on the rules of all aspects of the sport, with a score of at least 80%
  • Complete any training or additional testing requirements established by their association

 
Association Level
Officials who are ready to take on more responsibility at meets within their own Association An Association level official will be certified in at least one skill at the Association level, and may be certified in other skills at the Apprentice or Association levels.
 
An official seeking upgrade to the Association certification level must satisfy the following for each discipline:

  • Have served as an Apprentice level official for at least two years
  • Officiated at a minimum of eight meets as an Apprentice level official
  • Complete an open book examination on the rules of all aspects of the sport, with a score of at least 85%
  • Complete any training or additional testing requirements established by their association

 
National Level
Officials who are ready to take on more responsibility outside their association, and serve as head officials within their Association.   A National level official will be certified in at least one skill at the National level and may be certified in other skills at the Apprentice, Association, or National levels.
 
An official seeking upgrade to the National certification level must satisfy the following for each discipline:

  • Have served as an Association level official for at least two years
  • Officiated at a minimum of ten meets as an Association level official.  At least two of those meets must be either outside the official’s local Association or be Regional, National, or International meets.
  • Complete an open book examination on the rules of all aspects of the sport, with a score of at least 90%  
  • Complete any training or additional testing requirements established by their association


Master Level
Officials who are capable of serving as head officials at major regional and national meets
Master level certification is reserved for a limited number of the most outstanding officials who have achieved mastery in a specific area of officiating.   A Master level official will be certified in at least one skill at the Master level and may be certified in other skills at the Association, National, or Master levels.
 
An official seeking upgrade to the Master certification level must satisfy the following for each discipline:

  • Have served as a National level official for at least two years
  • Officiated at a minimum of twelve meets as a National level official.  At least two of those meets must be either outside the official’s local Association or be Regional, National, or International meets. Two additional meets must be outside the official’s local Association..
  • Have a least three positive, written recommendations from three different Master level officials they have worked with or under
  • Complete an open book examination on the rules of all aspects of the sport, with a score of at least 95% 
  • Complete any training or additional testing requirements established by their association

 
Emeritus
Master level officials who have retired from officiating
Upon approval of the National Officials Committee, an official may be awarded Emeritus status if he or she:

  • Is or was a Master level official in good standing with their association in the current or previous Olympiad
  • Has been a certified official for at least 20 years
  • Provides a summary of their officiating career and experience along with one letter of recommendation from a currently certified Master level official
  • Is a USATF Florida member through the Olympiad (2020)

 
Certification Process
 
Timelines
New officials may apply for initial Apprentice certification at any time. 
Officials who meet the criteria for certification upgrade may request advancement to the next level at the time they believe they are eligible.
Certified officials are certified for each four year Olympiad period during the year of the Summer Olympic Games.  All certifications expire at the end of each Olympiad.  Certification levels are subject to review at recertification; officials inactive or minimally active during the previous Olympiad may have a specific skill area or their entire certification level reduced by one level.
 
Initial Certification - Apprentice Level
Individuals submit their request for initial certification to their association Certification Chair, providing the Chair with items # 1 thru 8 below.
 
Recertification at the Current Level
Certified officials request recertification from their Certification Chair, providing the Chair with the following:

  1. Current year USATF membership number. Join or Renew Online
  2. Completed National Officials Committee Recertification (or New Officials) Application Form
  3. Answer sheet for the Officials Rules Review/test.  Download the Rules Review for your level from the "Certification Rules Review" section on the USATF Certification webpage.
  4. Payment of the certification fee established by the Association $20.00.
  5. Must also complete the SafeSport training.
  6. A USATF background check.
  7. Your Officials resume.
  8. Photo (head only) - preferably a digital (jpeg format). Take it with a cell phone and email.
 
Certification Upgrade for Currently Certified Officials
Simply fulfilling a time requirement does not suffice to upgrade an official to the next level or grade. Reviews are based on: the years of officiating at the current level; the meets worked and the level of competition; the variety and level of responsibility of assignments; the quality of officiating; knowledge of the rules of competition; and demonstrated professionalism, reliability, and dependability.
 
Certified officials may request upgrade in their certification level or grade from their Certification Chair, providing the Chair with the following items:
 
Transfer of Certification from other Associations
Officials may transfer from USATF association to another, with their current certification levels, provided they are a member in good standing with the USATF and their former association.  Individuals should contact the Certification Chair of the gaining association.  The National Vice-Chair of Certification will make a final decision on the request.
 
Appeals of Certification Actions
Appeals are sent to the Association President or Certification Chair.  They are acted upon by the Chair or a Certification Subcommittee; or if necessary, by the National Vice-Chair for Certification.
  • Resume of meets officiated (meet, location, date, duty performed) showing officiating performance which meets the criteria for the level sought in the skill(s) requested
  • Test answer sheet for the open book rules review– as specified in the criteria for the level sought
  • Submit the Application to Upgrade Official’s Certification Level
  • Three (3) Letters of recommendation are needed for the Master’s certification
  • Being currently certified




Click HERE for the current Certification Regulation


Certification Forms and Rules Reviews

Click HERE for a complete list of Rules Reviews along with the application form for new certifications and recertifications.

Procedures for Certification or Recertification


Certification Chair

For questions about certification, including how to get certified and the status of your certification, contact Rod Larsen, Certification Chair.  

 
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