Career Advice on How to Become A Judge or Magistrate

General Career Information

Luckily, most judges have worked as lawyers in the past.  Most of the time they have years or even decades of extensive experience with the law.  Clearly, a strong working knowledge of the law is critical for success as a judge.  After all, this isn’t like being a judge on a game show and calling every other person “dog” for some unknown reason.  Being a judge is really serious business.  There are real consequences to the decisions that a judge hands down in his or her career.  The main task for judges and magistrates is to hear the arguments of a court case and then render a judgment for one side or the other.  Judges will hear cases relating to every type of law imaginable, ranging from the simple traffic ticket to a case against a large corporation or a murder trial.  

Career Facts:

There are, due to the complexity of the law and different areas of law, numerous different types of judges that rule over a variety of types of courts.  These can range from general trail courts to appellate courts where appeals are made from the decisions of low courts to municipal and county courts.

In recent years, advancements in technology have assured that the job of the judge has changed quite dramatically.  Court evidence has moved into the realms of the digital and DNA evidence to site just two examples.  Thus the pressure and demands upon judges have made the job a much more difficult one than in past years.


Career Opportunities and Job Outlook- Poor:

The expected rate of growth for judges between 2008 and 2018 is expected to be about four percent.
Job Outlook is Poor

A Day in The Life:

It is no great surprise that judges and magistrates need to have a strong legal background.  Most judges and magistrates, in fact, have been lawyers. Obviously, this fact ensures that they know and understand the legal system and how it works.

Technology has certainly changed the nature of the work, and the evidence that must be taken into consideration.  However, much of the work remains the same.  Judges are expected to hear the evidence of a case and make an appropriate assessment based upon the facts.

Average Salary:

The average salary for judges is about $110,000 with the top ten percent earning as much as $162,000.  What might come, as a bit of a shocker is that the bottom ten percent of judges average about $32,000.  The middle fifty percent of judges earn between $52,000 and $141,000 per year.

$52k - $141k


Career Training and Qualifications:

The overwhelming majority of judges have been lawyers, thankfully.  State and federal judges are required by law to be lawyers and have passed the bar exam.  However, currently, forty states do allow those who are not lawyers to serve as judges.  However, if you do not plan to go to law school it is probably not recommended to add judge to your career planning or job search agenda.
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