Pokémon Professor: Getting Started
4 weeks ago
The World Championships in London was the most hype moment in Pokémon GO PvP history, and I had the honor and privilege to be on staff for this event. Now that we have all traveled back home and the dust is starting to settle, many folks have reached out about how to get involved in staffing these tournaments. So here’s a guide to getting involved in Play! Pokémon as a Professor!
Before you continue reading I want you to ask yourself a few questions–why are you applying to be a Professor? Do you value fun, fairness, honesty, respect, sportsmanship, and learning? Are you willing to work hard to provide a fun and engaging experience for Pokémon fans? Do you believe in integrity, honesty, responsibility, and professionalism? If you think you have what it takes to uphold the Spirit of the Game and embody the Professor Program Core Values, then I would love to see you apply!
In order to become a Pokémon Professor just like Professor Willow, you must be at least 18 years of age or older, have or create a Pokémon Trainer Club account, and live in an area where the Professor Program is currently active. If you meet those requirements, then you are eligible to take the Professor Exam! The exam is not timed and is open book, so you are able to use all the resources available to you in order to give the best possible answer. A passing score for the exam is 80% or higher. If you fail the exam, you must wait 14 days before you can apply again. If you fail any other future attempts, the waiting period increases to 30 days. So take your time when doing the exam and feel free to reach out to current Professors if you are unsure or would like clarification.
There are currently 3 certification tracks: Organizer, VGC, and TCG. Yes, there is not a Pokémon GO track yet. If you are not familiar with the other Pokémon games, Organizer is the easiest route to apply through. Though a lot of the rules and mechanics for Pokémon GO are similar to VGC, that certification would also be a good route to go if you feel comfortable. And having certifications in multiple areas makes you a valuable asset once you get on staff for these events. After 30 days you are eligible to take the exams for the other areas if you so choose.
The Play! Pokémon Rules and Resources are going to be a valuable asset before, during, and after your exam. You should familiarize yourself with all the applicable documentation that is relevant for the certification you are applying for, but if you are planning to do any Pokémon GO judging, the GO rules document* is a great read as well. For the exam, I found myself referencing these documents most frequently:
Play! Pokémon Standards of Conduct
Play! Pokémon Equality, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity Policy
Play! Pokémon Tournament Rules Handbook
*Note that the Pokémon GO Tournament Handbook was published in January of 2022 and has not been updated as of the date of publication of this article. There have been some clarifications or procedural changes that have occurred since this was first created as the event staff learned and grew with the game. I hope that an update to this document will come soon, but if there is something you read and you are unsure about or believe you saw something handled in a different way, please don’t hesitate to reach out for clarification.
Once you have passed the basic level exam you will receive an email from The Pokémon Company International regarding a background check. Submit all the necessary information and details as soon as possible and wait for the check to be completed. You will receive a notification with the results of the background check. As long as the check is approved, you will receive follow up regarding your approval to the Professor Program!
After approval, you will gain access to an assortment of new resources and tools to help you learn and grow as a Professor. There are online courses and seminars held regularly, as well as forums and chats for you to meet other Professors and have discussions. There are often in person seminars held in conjunction with Play! Pokémon events as well. Take the opportunity to network and meet Professors from around the world! While we may not all play or judge the same game, we can all learn a lot from each other. The Professors I met in London have been incredible resources and wonderful friends.
In order to staff events, there are typically applications that are reviewed by the tournament hosts. As of the time of publication, there are open calls for staff for Salt Lake City, San Diego, Peoria, Arlington, Baltimore, Toronto, Florida, Charlotte, and Hartford in the United States. Each organizer has a different application and guidelines, so keep up with your fellow Professors in order to get information and details on when applications become available. I am absolutely a resource, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter or Discord! There is no information yet on staff calls for the International Championship tournaments, but those are typically only shared internally to Professors as they become available.
I know this is a lot of information to process and it may seem daunting at first. But I promise that being a Professor and working on these events is one of the most rewarding experiences I have had playing this game. I hope to see more folks applying to the Professor Program and staffing tournaments around the world soon. Maybe we’ll get to work together very soon! But as always, if you have questions or would like additional information on something please reach out. I am here as a resource for you all too.
P.S. There's a great Discord server that got started for folks to coordinate for Play! events for this season. You can find me here helping to share information to keep the community informed about upcoming events!