BOSTON (CBS) — The NFL is making a major change in a critical area to the game.

The league announced Wednesday that it will be hiring as many as 24 full-time game officials out of the current roster of 124 officials. Current officials who are interested in working the job full time will be allowed to apply for the jobs.

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According to the official statement from the NFL, “The decision to hire up to 24 such officials for 2017 is a collaborative initiative [between the NFL and the NFLRA] intended to promote the common goal of enhancing all aspects of NFL officiating –  scouting, training and mentoring, better understanding of current game trends, game preparation, and increased input on rules relating to player safety and game administration.”

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Previously, NFL officials and referees only worked on a part-time basis. While the majority of officials will still remain part-time employees, the influx of full-time employees is intended to have a positive effect in the level of officiating across the league.

“NFL officials are always looking to improve, and we believe that additional time, particularly in the offseason, will be positive,” said NFLRA executive director Scott Green.  “We’re looking forward to working together with the league on this effort.”

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The full-time additions will include all seven officiating positions — referee, head linesman, umpire, line judge, side judge, back judge and down judge.