How To Become An Official

The AIA welcomes your interest in high school sports officiating. We have attempted to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about officiating. However, we encourage you to sit down with an athletic director, coach or official to gain more information into this demanding and exciting avocation. It might be what you're looking for.

Q: Who can become an AIA official?
A: Any individual who is 18 years old may register with the AIA and officate high school contets. 

Q: I have participated in my sport, but I wasn't a star athlete. Should I bother trying to officiate?
A: It helps to have participated in the given sport you wish to officiate in, however, it is certainly not necessary to have been an outstanding performer.

Q: What does it take to become a good official?
A: It takes a lot of things, but most certainly a very thorough knowledge of the rules of your sport, a love of athletics and kids, physical ability, self-confidence, the dedications and determinations necessary to work hard, and above all, personal integrity. The athletes and coaches look upon each contest as being the most important thing happening in their lives at that moment, and the official must look upon each contest the same way and react accordingly. This avocation is not for everyone, but if you have the interest and the attributes described above, you may find this to be some of the most rewarding work you will ever be involved in.

Q: What are the benefits of officiating?
A: Individuals may look at this in different ways, but officials will generally tell you they:

  • Want to give something back to the sport they enjoy.
  • Want to stay involved in the sport(s).
  • Enjoy the challenge of being in a pressure-packed situation.
  • Want the physical exercise.
  • Enjoy working with the kids.
  • Want some extra money.

Q: How does a new official get games?
A: This can vary somewhat from sport-to-sport, however, there are some basics you should know. First of all, the official is an independent contractor who enters into an agreement with the school and the AIA. It is also important to understand that in some sports it will take considerably longer to get to the level of working varsity competition than in others.

Q: Will officiating take up much of my time?
A: This obviously varies from person to person, however, it must be understood that to become a good official, one must be prepared to devote considerable time and energy. You have seen the officials at contest, however, you may not be aware that they probably had a meeting before that contest to discuss specific things, had many group meetings with other officials during the course of the year, have written required rules examinations, have attended a required rules interpretation meeting, etc. The list could go on and on, however, basically, as in most things, you improve according to your efforts.

Q: What will I get paid?
A: The pay schedule for regular season games is established by the AIA. Varsity contests obviously pay more that contest below the varsity level. You will find fees ranging from $50.00 for a non-varsity level contest to $85.00 for a varsity contest. Schools and conferences will pay you a mileage fee for your travel in addition to the game fee. Expect to spend some money on uniforms and equipment.

Q: What's the biggest adjustment I may need to make?
A: It is always difficult to go from being an athlete, perhaps one that is looked up to by other students and fans, to an official whom some people seem to believe can do nothing right. It is important to understand that the basic ingredient of officiating is that of being a decision maker, and sometimes the decisions won't please everybody. Once you clear this hurdle and realize that people will criticize you because you make necessary decisions rather than because you are a bad person and you can accept this fact, you are on your way. It is not easy.

Q: What are the seasons for each sport?
A: Rulebooks and meeting dates are mailed prior to the start of each sport season.

  • Fall Sport Season
    Football, Volleyball, Swimming, Soccer, Cross Country
  • Winter Sport Season
    Basketball, Soccer, Wrestling
  • Spring Sport Season
    Baseball, Softball, Track

Q: How are the high schools and officials in the state served?
A: They are served by area commissioners for the Arizona Interscholastic Association, Who are important members of a team of people who deal with the recruiting, training, assigning and evaluating of high school sports officials in the state of Arizona.

Q: What do I do now?
A: Your first step to become an official is to obtain your Fingerprint Clearance Card.  You can obtain this by going through DPS or Crimshield. 

DPS Clearance Cards are valid for 6 years. 

Go here to apply: 

Select Request a Replacement/Apply for a Card.  Next Apply for a New Clearance card and select IVP with the next step. 

For the reason for Applying select:  Public and/or Charter School Contractor, Subcontractor or Vendor and their Employees ARS § 15-512.


Arizona Livescan is still fingerprinting. Check out our new sites in Tempe, Scottsdale, Tucson and more:

We recommend to call our fingerprinting network sites directly; however, the corporate offices in downtown Mesa (456 W. Main) and N. Phoenix (2432 W Peoria Ave) are available on a walk-in basis from 9 AM to 6 PM, Monday through Friday. We are practicing social distancing in our lobbies, requiring face masks, sanitizing scanners in between customers and regular scheduled cleaning each hour.

Crimshield is valid for 2 years:  

Crimshield is an online check.  The process is a little faster.

Q: When and where  do I register?
A: All Officials registrations are done online. Registration opens up June 1st each year.  Click here to register. New officials will need to set up a user name and password to first begin the registration process. The registration fees are listed on the form. 

In conclusion, let us congratulate you on your interest in officiating. Officials play a very significant role in the success of interscholastic athletic programs. If you are ready to accept the challenge and move into this realm, we welcome you. If not, perhaps you now have a better understanding and appreciation of the official. If you can't join our ranks now, perhaps you will be able to sometime in the future. It's your call to make.