Become an Official

Being an official is a challenging job, but if you have the dedication and passion to join our ranks it can be a hugely rewarding experience, and you will have a tremendous impact on the sport we love! 

Our officials program has two tracks for officiating at USAT sanctioned events: 
Competitive Rules Officials (CRO Program) enforce the USAT Competitive rules at non-draft legal multisport events; and National Technical Officials (NTO Program) enforce the ITU Competition Rules at draft legal multisport events within the United States. 

Although inter-related, the programs are functionally separate (i.e., USAT CRO; USAT NTO) and participation in both programs is completely optional. A USAT CRO is not automatically eligible to officiate as a USAT NTO without taking the mandatory training and passing the requisite examination. This is also true of the NTO program as well.

Quick Links:

CRO Program

NTO Program

CRO Program

In order to obtain certification in the USA Triathlon CRO program an individual must:

  1.  Be a member in good standing with USA Triathlon.
  2. Officials must have a strong sense of integrity, be willing to ride as a passenger on a motorcycle and for reasons of safety, weigh less than 225 pounds.
  3. Complete New Officials Certification Application.
  4. Complete certification in USOC SafeSport.
  5. Complete and pass background screening.
  6. Attend, participate, and complete the classroom session of the clinic (virtually or in-person), written examination of the Competitive Rules (open book) and participate satisfactorily in the race practicum.
  7. Upon successful completion of the clinic and race practicum, new officials then work two additional races in a probationary status.  Upon satisfactory completion of these requirements, officials may be assigned to work races throughout their designated region.

To remain active in the CRO Program:

  1. Be a member in good standing with USA Triathlon.
  2. Be in good standing, through compliance with the policies, procedures and protocols of the official’s program.
  3. Must not exceed the maximum weight limit of 225 pounds.
  4. Work at least one race each year.
  5. Currently certified in USOC SafeSport (annual refresher).
  6. Completed criminal background check (renewed every two years).
  7. Satisfactorily complete recertification every two years.

CRO Program Benefits

USA Triathlon recognizes the importance and value of its officials. The CRO Program has
three specific benefits:

1. Complimentary Annual Membership
Annual membership in USA Triathlon is required of all officials. A complimentary annual membership will be awarded by USA Triathlon to those officials who have met the following requirements at the end of each season:

  • Satisfactorily complete two race assignments as a Cat 4 or higher official
  • Have no outstanding race paperwork that has not been properly filed with the Regional Officials Coordinator
  • Meet the requirement of turning in the Official’s Record to the Regional Officials Coordinator at the end of the season

2. CRO Official’s Uniform
USA Triathlon supplies each CRO with the following parts of the USA Triathlon official’s uniform consisting of a red assistant referee shirt, a striped head referee shirt, a credential badge with lanyard, and a navy official’s cap. 

3. Protective Equipment

  • Motorcycle helmet: Officials must wear a helmet when riding on a motorcycle. USA Triathlon will provide a onetime rebate of up to $100.00 to any official who purchases a white, full-face, DOT approved motorcycle helmet from Sullivan’s. Rebate is available to officials who are Cat 3 and above.

CRO Program Categories of Officials

The CRO Program operates under a Category (CAT) rating system, starting at CAT 5 (clinic participation) and progressing to the top level, CAT 1. The minimum requirements that must be met to operate under each category are outlined below. If qualified, referees may apply for advancement to the next highest category any time during the year.

The following requirements apply to ALL categories:

  • Be a member in good standing with USA Triathlon
  • Be in good physical condition, weigh less than 225 lbs
  • Criminal Background Check completed
  • Certification in USOC SafeSport 
  • Acknowledgement of National Officials Program Policies and Procedures

CAT 5 (Clinic Participant Only)

  • Demonstrate a sincere interest in officiating
  • Be in good physical condition, weigh less than 225lbs, and be capable of riding for hours at a time as a passenger on a motorcycle
  • Satisfactorily complete the written examination (open book) of the Competitive Rules
  • Attend, participate, and complete classroom session of clinic
  • Participate satisfactorily in the race practicum

CAT 4 

  • Satisfactorily participate in the clinic and related race event
  • Be recommended by the clinic instructor to the Regional Officials Coordinator

    Note: CAT 4 officials serve in a probationary status. Evaluations by the Regional Officials Coordinator and other officials determine whether the official will remain in the program and be promoted to CAT 3.

CAT 3 

  • Satisfactorily assist in a minimum of two sanctioned events within one year, supervised by a CAT 3 or higher official
  • Provide the Regional Officials Coordinator with a letter requesting advancement and all required documentation
  • Working knowledge of the Competitive Rules
  • Satisfactorily complete re-certification every two years
  • A minimum score of 85% on the re-certification exam

CAT 2 

  • Serve as a CAT 3 for at least one year.
  • Satisfactorily officiate a minimum of six sanctioned events including service as head referee at three of those events after advancing to CAT 3
  • Be recommended in writing by a CAT 3 or higher official as having demonstrated excellent officiating skills and judgement
  • A thorough understanding of the Competitive Rules
  • Provide the Regional Officials Coordinator with a letter requesting advancement and all required documentation
  • A minimum of 90% on the CAT 2 exam
  • Satisfactorily complete re-certification every two years
  • A minimum of 90% on the re-certification exam

CAT 1

  • Serve as a CAT 2 for at least one year
  • Satisfactorily officiate a minimum of ten sanctioned events including service as head referee at five events after advancing to CAT 2
  • One of the assignments must be at an "elite rules" event, working the elite field within the last three years
  • Be recommended in writing by a CAT 2 or higher official as having demonstrated superior officiating skills and judgement
  • Provide the Regional Officials Coordinator with a letter requesting advancement and all required documentation.
  • Mastery of the Competitive Rules, including elite rules
  • Elite Rules Certified
  • A minimum of 90% on the CAT 1 exam
  • Satisfactorily complete re-certification every two years
  • A minimum of 90% on the re-certification exam

    Elite Rules Certification: An additional level of training and knowledge is required for officials who work elite rules events. To gain certification in elite rules an official shall be knowledgeable in the elite rules and in all the procedures required to enforce those rules. A minimum score of 90% on the Elite Rules Examination is required to be designated a USAT Elite Rules Certified Official.

NTO Program

In order to obtain certification in the USA Triathlon NTO program an individual must:

  1. Be a member in good standing with USA Triathlon
  2. Be in good physical condition
  3. Completed New Officials Certification Application 
  4. Completed certification in USOC SafeSport 
  5. Completed criminal background check
  6. Satisfactorily complete the classroom session of the clinic, rules review, written examination (open book) and race practicum.

To remain active in the NTO Program:

  1. Be a member in good standing with USA Triathlon
  2. Be in good standing, through compliance with the policies, procedures and protocols of the officials program.
  3. Work at least one race each year 
  4. Currently certified in USOC SafeSport (annual renewal)
  5. Completed criminal background check (renewed every two years)
  6. Acknowledgement of National Officials Program Policies and Procedures
  7. Satisfactorily complete recertification every two years

NTO Program Benefits

USA Triathlon recognizes the importance and value of its officials. The NTO Program has the
following benefits in place for 2019:

1. Complimentary Annual Membership
Annual membership in USA Triathlon is required of all officials in the NTO Program. A
complimentary annual membership will be awarded by USA Triathlon to those officials who have met the following requirements at the end of each season:

  • Satisfactorily complete two race assignments: either as an NTO, or as a USA NTO, CTO or ITO for International events; or a combination of the two;
  • Have no outstanding race paperwork that has not been properly filed with the TOC; and
  • Meet the requirement of turning in the Official’s Record to the TOC at the end of the season, and/or when requested

2. NTO Official’s Uniform
USA Triathlon supplies each NTO with the following parts of the USAT official’s uniform consisting of a white collared shirt and a navy official’s cap. 

If you’re interested in becoming an official, please visit our Education page to learn about available clinics, or visit our Contacts page to find your Regional Officials Coordinator.