If you’re lucky enough to be able to call balls and strikes for a livelihood, it’s still a rewarding career for the lucky few who have the opportunity to do so.

While the minimum pay for professional athletes in 2018 is $545,000, a number of players earn more than $30 million. At the top of the league, professional umpires can earn up to $450,000 per year, with a starting salary of $150,000 (plus several benefits).

But before you give up your day job in pursuit of that lucrative pie, know that getting there takes time, luck, and a lot of effort.

MLB Umpire
MLB Umpire

First, you must enroll in one of the two accredited umpiring programs recognized by Minor League Baseball Umpire Development: the Harry Wendelstedt Umpire School or the Minor League Baseball Umpire Training Academy, as detailed in MLB.com’s “How to Become an Umpire” guide.

Annual activities operate from January through February at both campuses along the eastern coast of Florida.

Tuition for each program is around $2,400. If you want to include food and lodging, the price will be closer to $4,000.

Only the top 15-20% of each program’s graduates are invited to the Minor League Baseball Advanced Course, which takes place in the middle of February and lasts one week.

For the remaining 80% to 85% of umpire hopefuls, the price of admission was a few thousand dollars.

In the advanced course, only a few individuals will make it to the rookie or Class A short-season leagues, which is where the real trip begins.

It could take a decade or more for an umpire to make it from a small league to the majors. Minor league umpires, like the players, struggle to make ends meet.

Starting in rookie and short-season levels, umpires can earn between $2,000 and $2,300 per month, according to MiLB.com, before rising to $3,900 per month in Triple-A.

Minor league umpires are likewise entitled to a daily allowance of $66.

How Much Does an MLB Umpire Make?

Although they don’t earn as much as the MLB’s minimum wage for players, professional baseball umpires are nevertheless well-off.

Umpire salaries range from $150,000 to $450,000 a year, according to Career Trend, with the most experienced umpires (such as Joe West) earning as much as $450,000 per year.