How To Become A Judge
A judge presides over a court of law. They handle disputes within the court room. Some judges have specialties within the field of law. A judge values justice and helping others solve their issues in a fair manner. In order to become a judge, it requires many years of education, including law school, several years of experience as a lawyer, and finally becoming elected into the position.
Why Become A Judge
It would be great if we lived in a world where everything went smoothly and people never ran into any problems with each other. Unfortunately, there are many disputes that people have which need to be settled. Whether it is filing for a divorce or arguing over something that happened at your place of employment, many of us will go to court at some point to settle a problem.
In a court of law, a judge listens to both sides as they discuss what happened, and present evidence for their case. A judge supervises the legal proceedings, making sure that the rules of the legal system are followed, and that everybody’s legal rights are upheld. In cases that do not have a jury, judges may be the ones who decide whether a defendant is guilty. A judge is an important part of the legal system. They must be knowledgeable of all parts of the law. They must be able to deliver objective decisions, even when the case involved may be emotionally difficult or upsetting.
This is a great career for somebody who highly values justice and doing what is right, who wants to help people solve their problems by working through the law, who is able to make decisions and solve problems based on evidence, and loves learning about all facets of the legal system.
Judges should possess the following qualities and skills:
- Problem Solver
- Calm during Conflict
Judge Work Environment
Judges work in courtrooms. These courtrooms might be part of various levels of court systems, whether it is the city court, county court, state court, or any other number of court offices. Sometimes a judge may have to travel, working for multiple court rooms within a local court system. A judge does a lot of preparation for court cases, examining evidence. Court sessions often are many hours long and judges must be able to sit, listen actively, and rule over the court, taking charge when necessary. This is a demanding job, with long, full time working hours.
There are many different types of judges, working at various levels of the government. Judges can be employed by local cities, counties, states, and even by our federal government. Salaries may vary depending on which level of the government a judge is employed at.
Judges who are employed by local governments such as towns and counties received a median annual salary of $80,330 in 2015, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Judges who were employed at the state level received a median annual salary of $123,660.
Average Judge Annual Salary
The average annual salary for judges is $121,050 a year. Salaries start at $35,650 a year and go up to $192,740 a year.
Average Judge Hourly Wage
The average hourly wage for a judge is $58.20. Hourly wages are between $17.14 and $92.66 an hour.
Stats were based out of 28,440 employed judges in the United States.
Highest Paying States For Judges
- 1. Hawaii $91.80 / hr $190,950 / yr
- 2. California $91.61 / hr $190,560 / yr
- 3. Connecticut $81.30 / hr $169,110 / yr
- 4. Rhode Island $80.09 / hr $166,580 / yr
- 5. Florida $78.22 / hr $162,690 / yr
Top Paying Cities For Judges
- 1. Honolulu, HI $93.08 / hr$193,600 / yr
- 2. Sacramento, CA $91.68 / hr$190,690 / yr
- 3. Oakland, CA $91.12 / hr$189,530 / yr
- 4. Washington, DC $90.75 / hr$188,760 / yr
- 5. Providence, RI $80.91 / hr$168,290 / yr
Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Judge Career Outlook
Positions for judges is expected to grow by about one percent from 2014 to 2024, showing little change from the current amount of positions held. This is much slower growth than other occupations within the United States.
Judges are appointed by the local and state legislative systems. There are often restraints in budgets and needs within the court systems. When there is not enough money to hire more judges, or there are not positions available, this can adversely affect the hiring of judges.
Becoming a judge is a long process that involves many years of experience, education, and finally, becoming appointed into the position. Learn more about how to become a judge below.
Step 1: Undergraduate school. Earn a four year degree. There are many great programs out there, such as a degree in government, political science, public policy, and law. A bachelor’s degree will give you a strong foundation towards a rewarding career as a judge.
Step 2: Enroll in law school. There are many universities with excellent law programs. Research programs to find out which one is perfect for you, and enroll in a strong law school program. Law school takes three years to complete. During law school, you will learn many facets of the law, such as contracts, civil law, constitutional law, ethics, and more.
Step 3: Become elected. Just like any position in our government, like the president or a governor, a judge must be elected or appointed into power. Once you have worked as a lawyer for several years, you may consider running for a judicial position. Local elections are often held for city and county judges. At the state and federal level, there are committees that look for candidates and appoint them to the courts. Check your local city and state court systems for their specific requirements on qualifications and term lengths, because all courts are different.