How to Become a Judge
Job Duties of a Judge
Skills and Qualities of a Judge
Judge Salary
Influential Judges
Leading Organizations for Judges
Top Cities for Judge Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Judge

The process of becoming a judge depends on a number of factors, particularly the level of judicial standing. For example, arbitrators will have different requirements to magistrates and magistrates will have different requirements to federal judges. The minimum requirements for the position of judge are a bachelor's degree accompanied by work experience. Most judges on ahigher level hold law degrees. Although it is not required, most judges have practiced law as attorneys. State and Federal judges are often required to hold law degrees, which also require passing the Bar Association exam. Approximately 40 states permit non-lawyers to work as judges although their power may be limited.

Federal Administrative Law Judges are required to be lawyers. They must also pass a competitive examination which is administered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

All states require all judges, either elected or appointed, to have some form of orientation. Among those offering orientation programs are the American Bar Association, the National Judicial College, the Federal Judicial Center and the National Center for State Courts. This orientation may also be required for other personnel involved in the judicial area. Additionally, more than 50% of the states require judges to participate in continuing education whilst on the bench.

Training for lesser positions such as mediators, arbitrators and conciliators is typically provided by postsecondary schools, independent mediation programs and national and local mediation membership organizations.

There are no required national licensure requirements for mediators, arbitrators and conciliators. Licensure or certification procedures vary widely from state to state.

What does a Judge do?

Judges in all capacities are responsible for applying the law to determine the legalities involved in the cases that come before the courts. Depending on their position, judges and magistrates preside over a diverse number of legal issues from civil rights to traffic offenses. It is up to the judge to make sure that each trial is handled efficiently and without prejudice.

The most notable duties of judges, as portrayed in movies and on television, is presiding over a courtroom and listening to the testimony of witnesses as well as the claims made by both sides of the cases presented before the court. In addition to overseeing the jury, members of the court, prosecution and defense, the judge may also be called upon to render a final decision in a case. Judges usually have pre-trial hearings with representatives for the prosecution and defense in order to determine if there is enough evidence to warrant a trial. ,b>Judges may also use their discretion to grant or deny bail.

In criminal cases, a judge may determine guilt and the subsequent punishment, including jail or fines, or both. In civil suits judges will determine the amount of money to be awarded in terms of damages.

A basic breakdown of judges' duties is as follows:

Federal and State Judges: These are the highest ranking judges in the system and are usually reserved for serious crimes, both civil and criminal. The scope of their jurisdiction is broad and judges in these positions may overrule any decision made by a lower court. They also oversee all felony cases.

Appellate Judges: This position is less common and they sit mainly in an appeals court. These judges rarely make direct contact with the individual parties involved in the case.

Lower court judges: Lower court judges encompass the positions of magistrate, municipal court judge, county court judge and justice of the peace. These judges usually handle minor offenses such as small claims and traffic offenses.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Judge?

In most cases, one must have a degree in law or criminal justice in addition to a significant amount of work experience. Overall a judge should have an expert understanding of the law, have,b> good analytical skills, have good ,b>communication skills, both oral and written; have the ability to make swift and sound decisions, be able to explain the law in layman's terms and possess the ability to communicate with people on all levels.

How much does a Judge make?

As of May 2006, the median annual salary of judges, including magistrate judges, was $101,690. The top 10% of judges earned over $145,600 and the bottom 10% earned less than $29,540.

Administrative law judges, hearing officers and adjudicators earned an average of $72,600. Mediators, arbitrators and conciliators earned an average of $49,490. Broken down by industry employing the highest number of judges, including magistrate judges, the median annual salary as of May 2006 was $74,630 in local government and $117,760 in state government.

Federal judges tend to earn more as a result of their position and level of responsibility. In 2006 the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court earned $212,100. Associate Justices earned $203,000. Judges for the Federal Court of Appeals earned $175,100. Judges in the Court of Federal Claims and the Court of International Trade joined district court judges with an average of $165,200 per year. Federal judges possessing a limited jurisdiction, including bankruptcy judges and magistrates, earned $151,984.

According to a 2006 National Center for State Courts survey, the annual wages of Chief Justices in the State High Courts averaged $142,264, with the highest reported salary being $200,613. Associate justices in the State High Courts averaged an annual salary of $136,810, with the top earners making as much as $184,300. State intermediate appellate court judges earned an average of $132,102, with the top earner making a yearly wage of $172,452. State judges of general jurisdiction trial courts earned an average of $122,559, with the highest reported wage coming in at $168,100.
Judge Salary | More details for Judge Jobs | Salary

Who are some influential professionals in this field?

Ruth Bader Ginsberg - U.S. Supreme Court
Richard Posner - First Amendment Rights
John Roberts - Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

What are some leading organizations in this field?

Federal Magistrate Judges Association
American Bar Association

What are the top cities for Judge jobs?

Consider one of these top cities for a career as a Judge.

Chicago, IL
Philadelphia, PA
New York, NY
Washington, DC
Atlanta, GA
Los Angeles, CA

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