Become a Dog or Horse Racing Official: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Learn how to become a dog or horse racing official. Research the job description and education and licensing requirements, and find out how to start a career in race officiating.

Should I Become a Dog or Horse Racing Official?

Dog and horse racing officials do more than determine race winners. For example, some officials handle security, while others work as public relations specialists, marketing and broadcasting racing events. These officials often get to travel to attend races across the country. However, officiating can produce tremendous stress, dealing with criticism from the dog or horse trainers or owners and making decisions that can affect the outcome of a race. These professionals also frequently have to work on holidays and weekends.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Varies
Degree Fields Varies; related fields, such as equine or animal science, can be beneficial
Licensure and Certification Licensure is required in many states; voluntary certification is available
Experience Typically learned on the job or by volunteering
Key Skills Communication and decision-making skills, as well as stamina, good vision and the ability to work with others, knowledge of related codes and regulations
Salary (2014) $24,090 yearly (median)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Various state racing commissions, Racing Officials Accreditation Program, O*NET Online

Step 1: Learn Local Commission Rules

Each state has its own racing commission that creates rules and standards for both dog and horse racing. Although some rules are similar from state to state, those interested in officiating should become familiar with state guidelines. Several state commission boards make their guidelines available online, but individuals can call for a copy as well. While each licensed racetrack has to abide by the standards set by their state's commission racing board, some racing organizations may have additional rules that officials must follow.

Step 2: Pick a Specialty

There are several kinds of racing officials in the industry. Specialties include director of racing, paddock judge, clerk of scales, racing steward and judge. Some workers choose to stay with a particular specialty throughout their entire career. Others may receive training in multiple related specialties.

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