All You Need To Know About A Judge Career

You consider becoming a judge but are not entirely sure whether this is the right career for you or not?

Great! Sick with me since I will show you everything you need to know about being a judge in the following chapters.

Not only will you get information on what you can make as a judge, but we will also talk about job satisfaction, working hours, work-life balance, future outlook, educational requirements and much more.

You will also find an FAQ section where I answer the most common questions about being a judge.

After reading this article, you will have a much better idea of what working as a judge looks like and whether you still want to pursue such a career or rather want to go for a different job instead.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Table of Contents

What does a Judge do?

Judges are responsible to ensure that local and international laws, rules and regulations are followed.

They are crucial to resolving conflicts between parties to assure as much peace and justice in society as possible.

Responsibilities & Duties of a Judge

  • Informing accused on their rights
  • Evaluating allegations of defending and prosecuting parties
  • Hearing of witnesses
  • Making sure that a fair verdict is made
  • Making sure that people have enough time to justify their actions
  • Making sure that people are not intimidated by other parties
  • Assuring overall safety in the courtroom
  • Making sure that trials take place in a professional manner
  • Determine guilt or innocence of accused parties

What a Typical Day of a Judge looks like?

Judges usually start their workday between 8 and 10 a.m.

The first thing they do when they get to work is checking their schedule and preparing for upcoming trials.

They also instruct their secretaries regarding what they should prepare and how they can help them to lead trials as smoothly as possible.

After that, judges get to their actual work and make sure that trials are executed in an objective but yet straightforward manner so that guilt or innocence can be determined in the most effective manner.

After hearing many clients, figuring out the truth in many trials and doing some administrative paperwork, you will usually finish your workday between 4 and 6 p.m.

Judge Salary 2021

Judge salary brackets 2021

Salary BracketsSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Top 10 %> $275,000> $137.41
Top 25 %$223,000 – $247,000$111.44 – $123.39
Bottom 25 %$169,000 – $187,000$84.43 – $93.47
Bottom 10 %$132,000 – $155,000$65.95 – $77.48
Range$132,000 – $289,000$65.95 – $144.38
Average (Mean)$198,000$98.92
Median$195,000$97.49

Judge salary 2021 by expert level

Level of ExperienceSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Entry level$132,000 – $158,000$65.95 – $78.93
Junior$156,000 – $189,000$77.94 – $94.48
Professional$187,000 – $218,000$93.39 – $108.89
Senior Professional$212,000 – $247,000$105.88 – $123.43
Expert$234,000 – $268,000$116.97 – $133.91
Top Expert$254,000 – $289,000$126.89 – $144.42

Judge salary by state 2021 (average)

StateSalary (per year)Salary (per hour)
Alabama$189,200$94.58
Alaska$195,800$97.89
Arizona$201,700$100.83
Arkansas$187,500$93.72
California$212,100$106.04
Colorado$194,300$92.13
Connecticut$197,800$98.87
Delaware$194,900$97.43
District of Columbia$201,500$100.74
Florida$198,500$99.22
Georgia$188,700$94.31
Guam$185,200$92.59
Hawaii$193,100$96.54
Idaho$189,400$94.68
Illinois$194,700$97.33
Indiana$196,200$98.08
Iowa$192,800$96.36
Kansas$187,400$93.68
Kentucky$185,800$92.89
Louisiana$198,600$99.27
Maine$201,700$100.84
Maryland$203,100$101.53
Massachusetts$207,200$103.58
Michigan$189,700$94.82
Minnesota$185,200$92.57
Mississippi$183,300$91.63
Missouri$184,800$92.38
Montana$192,600$91.28
Nebraska$188,100$94.04
Nevada$192,400$96.18
New Hampshire$197,700$98.83
New Jersey$199,200$99.57
New Mexico$178,500$89.24
New York$209,700$104.82
North Carolina$193,200$96.58
North Dakota$195,700$97.84
Ohio$191,900$90.94
Oklahoma$194,600$97.28
Oregon$192,800$96.37
Pennsylvania$194,800$97.36
Rhode Island$192,500$96.23
South Carolina$189,200$94.59
South Dakota$191,700$95.84
Tennessee$195,300$97.63
Texas$188,300$94.12
Utah$186,800$93.35
Vermont$193,400$96.68
Virginia$197,200$98.54
Washington$201,500$100.73
West Virginia$189,900$94.92
Wisconsin$178,600$89.28
Wyoming$182,400$91.17

Job Security of Judges

Judges enjoy pretty high job security.

Once you are a judge, it will be hard to fire you unless you do something really stupid.

Hence, while many other people out there have to fear losing their jobs from one day to the other, you as a judge will not have to worry about those issues at all.

Future Outlook of Judges

Not only current job prospects are pretty good since judges are in high demand, but also the future outlook of judges will be pretty decent since our population is growing and with an increasing number of people, an increasing number of conflicts will happen.

Consequently, an increasing number of judges will be needed to resolve those conflicts and you will therefore not have to worry about getting unemployed as a judge anytime soon.

Working Hours of Judges

Most judges start their workday between 8 and 10 a.m. and finish their workday between 4 and 6 p.m.

Thus, you will work in a classical 9 – 5 environment and while many other people like investment bankers or consultants have to work long hours every day, you will have more than enough time to meet up with your favorite people after work.

Job Satisfaction of Judges

Most judges are pretty happy with what they are doing.

Even though they sometimes have to deal with high workloads and also have a high level of responsibility, they are also able to make really good money from what they are doing and also don’t have to worry about losing their jobs.

Promotion Opportunities of Judges

Once you become a judge, you will do the same job for many years to come.

However, you can still climb the ladder and get more responsibility over time.

After many years or even decades, you may also become a professor and could start working at a university part-time while you could still lead trials and get important insights into both worlds.

Career Levels of Judges

  • Lawyer
  • Legal clerk
  • Junior judge
  • Senior judge
  • Judge who instructs and educates younger colleagues
  • Judge who also teaches at college

Fields and Types of Judges

  • Judge focused on civil law
  • Judge specialized in criminal law
  • Judge focused on traffic law
  • Judge specialized in trials of young people
  • Judge focused on major criminal offense
  • Judge in high court
  • District judge
  • Circuit judge
  • Associate justice
  • Chief justice
  • Judges who teach in college
  • Judges focused on the alteration and invention of new laws

Educational Requirements for Judges

You need to spend many years in college for becoming a judge.

After getting your bachelor’s degree, you will also need to get a Juris Doctor degree.

You will also have to practice law for a few years before you are eligible for working as a judge.

Hence, you should be prepared to spend many years on education before you will be finally able to work in this field.

How to become a Judge

  1. Inform yourself about the advantages and disadvantages of being a judge
  2. Apply for a bachelor’s degree in law
  3. Get your degree with decent grades
  4. Apply for law school and get your Juris Doctor degree
  5. Apply for jobs as a lawyer and practice law for a few years
  6. Work as a clerk
  7. Earn your judgeship
  8. Apply for jobs as a judge in your region
  9. Master the job interview
  10. Work as a judge and get as much experience as possible

Character Traits you need as a Judge

  • You should be able to stay calm under pressure
  • Empathy for people helps you resolve conflicts
  • You should be resilient
  • Willingness to work in a field with lots of potential for conflict
  • You should be able to speak in front of an audience
  • Passion for making fair judgements
  • You should be a good listener
  • Patience helps you get many years of education done without quitting
  • Problems of others should not bring you down

Hard Skills for Judges

  • Excellent knowledge of laws, rules and regulations
  • Expertise in leading trials in a calm but yet determined manner
  • Ability to keep people under control with your words
  • Talent for figuring out the truth
  • You should have decent knowledge of body language
  • Ability to get people what you want them to do
  • Good decision-making skills help you find fair verdicts
  • Excellent analytical skills
  • You should know how to lead trials in an objective manner
  • You should be able to assure overall security in court
  • Excellent reading and writing skills
  • Knowledge of foreign languages is a plus

Soft Skills for Judges

  • Ability to not be intimidated by defendants
  • Good communication skills help you figure out the truth
  • Empathy for people helps you get difficult cases done in a healthy manner
  • You should know how to calm people down
  • Ability to make quick but yet fair decisions
  • You should be able to read people
  • Talent for figuring out the intention behind certain actions
  • Passion for making fair judgements
  • You should be a strong character so that you are not easily influenced by flawed arguments

Exit Options for Judges

If you no longer want to work as a judge, you can also work as a prosecutor or defense attorney or also just work as a lawyer in the corporate world.

Judge – Similar Careers

  • Defense attorney
  • Prosecutor
  • Legal clerk
  • Lawyer
  • Police officer
  • Court reporter
  • Courtroom interpreter
  • Paralegal
  • Jailer

Judge Career FAQs

Is working as a judge physically demanding?

Being a judge is not physically demanding at all since you will mostly work with your brain and don’t have to work with your hands in a hard physical manner as construction workers or welders often have to do on a regular basis.

Is working as a judge mentally demanding?

Working as a judge can be mentally and emotionally demanding since you will have to stress your brain quite a lot to figure out the truth and to make fair verdicts so that you don’t convict innocent people.

Is it dangerous to work as a judge?

Working as a judge can be risky.

Even though you will not be at great risk of suffering from accidents at work as many other people who have to work with heavy machines are, you will still be at higher risk of unpleasant surprises at work compared to people who work in normal office jobs since people will often not be happy about your judgement and may try to intimidate you.

Some people may even start to stalk you and this can have really unpleasant implications for your private life.

How long do judges stay in their jobs?

Judges stay in their jobs for many decades on average.

In fact, once you become a judge, you will have very little incentive to quit your job since you will be able to make really good money while you will have high job security and also a healthy work-life balance in many cases.

Is it easy for judges to find a new job?

Judges are in high demand right now and due to the high educational barriers to entry, not many people are able to do this job.

Hence, if you are really good at what you are doing and fulfill all the formal qualifications, you will have a rather easy time finding a job as a judge in most regions.

Is it hard to switch from being a judge to another field of work?

While you will become really good at what you are doing, you will also be pretty specialized as a judge.

Thus, while it will be relatively easy for you to work as a lawyer in the corporate world, it will be almost impossible for you to switch to craftsmen jobs.

Do judges have a high social status?

Judges have a pretty high social status since they are crucial to assure a high level of safety in society in general and since you can make really good money from what you are doing and will have lots of power, many people will admire you for your career.

Can you help out your family and friends as a judge?

You will also be able to do good for your loved ones as a judge since in case your family or friends get in legal trouble, you will be able to consult them in this regard and your loved ones will not have to spend lots of money on a lawyer to get proper legal advice.

Can judges work remotely?

Judges are not able to work remotely since most trials take place in person and you will therefore have to commute to work and back on a daily basis while many other people like financial controllers who work in classical office jobs will not have to spend lots of time and money on commuting.

Is it easy to find a partner as a judge?

It is pretty easy for judges to find a partner for a long-term relationship since they have a pretty high social standing, decent job security, enough leisure and can also make really good money.

In turn, judges are considered pretty good providers and have almost freedom of choice in the dating market.

Do judges have to work on weekends?

Judges don’t have to work on weekends.

Instead, you can make nice weekend trips with your family or meet up with your favorite people.

Do judges have to work on holidays?

Judges also don’t have to work on national holidays.

Instead of sitting in court, you will be able to spend those days with your loved ones or on the hobbies you like most.

Do judges have to work at nighttime?

Judges don’t have to work at nighttime.

Quite often, judges will be able to finish their workday relatively early in the late afternoon or early evening and while many other people like waiters or train drivers have to work during the late evening or at nighttime, you will have a rather relaxed life in this regard and can meet up with your favorite people after work instead.

Do you have to travel as a judge?

There is no need to travel as a judge.

While you will have to commute to court and back, you will still not have to do business trips as many other people who work in demanding office jobs and will be away from home quite often. Instead, you can spend your evenings with your loved ones.

Are judge pensions good?

Judges are not only able to make really good money from what they are doing, but they also receive pretty high pensions and therefore don’t have to worry about financial issues once they quit their active careers at retirement age.

Are judge salaries going up?

The salary of judges has been going up over the past years and chances are that this trend will continue in the future since there is a lack of qualified judges in many regions while there is also an increasing number of lawsuits going on.

Can you have a positive impact on society as a judge?

You can have an important positive impact on society as a judge since it will be on you to assure fair verdicts and only if people are treated in a fair manner in court, they will continue to respect the system which is crucial to assure overall peace on our streets.

How long does it take to become a judge?

It will take you between 8 and 10 years to become a judge.

Not only will you have to go to college for many years, but you will also have to practice law for a while until you are finally able to work as a judge.

Consequently, you should have a strong inner motivation to work in this field so that you don’t quit somewhere along the way and really push through difficult times.

Is it difficult to become a judge?

Becoming a judge is not easy at all since you have to fulfill pretty high educational requirements and the majority of lawyers will never be able to work as a judge.

Hence, you should also have a backup plan in case your dream of becoming a judge doesn’t work out.

Do you need to be smart to work as a judge?

You don’t need to be a genius for becoming a judge.

Yet, intelligence still helps you meet the high formal educational requirements and if you have a pretty low IQ, chances are that you will just not become happy with this career path since it will just be too hard to get all necessary formal qualifications.

Do judges have a good work-life balance?

Judges have pretty decent work-life balance. In fact, many judges work in a classical 9 to 5 environment.

However, until you finally become a judge, you will still have to work quite a lot and will have barely any leisure at all and you should therefore make sure that you are willing to sacrifice some years of your life for your dream of becoming a judge before you decide on going for such a career.

Do judges have to work many extra hours?

Judges don’t have to work many extra hours.

Instead, you will have a rather rigid schedule and once your workday is over, you will just get back home and continue your work the next morning.

How to maximize your chances of becoming a judge?

If you want to maximize your chances of becoming a judge, you should study hard and get excellent grades.

Moreover, you also want to work as a clerk or an intern in court for a while so that you already know some people and it will be easier for you to find a job in this field.

Can judges work part-time?

While judges might be able to work part-time in theory, most of them still work full-time since they are really ambitious and also like what they are doing.

Moreover, you will also be able to make much more money by working full-time compared to part-time.

Do judges work indoors or outdoors?

Judges work indoors and therefore don’t have to worry about weather conditions outdoors while roofers and many other people out there don’t have this luxury and have to work outdoors during times of extreme heat or rain.

What does the workplace of a judge look like?

Judges mainly work in court.

You will also have to deal with many new people every day and it is therefore important that you are a friendly and outgoing person to give people a good feeling to keep things under control.

Do you have to look good for working as a judge?

Your looks don’t matter for your success as a judge.

What’s much more important is that you are really passionate about working in this field and that you also have a strong personality so that you don’t get intimidated or discouraged in your mission.

Is a judge career beneficial for your private life?

Being a judge can have many positive aspects for your private life since you will be able to make really good money while you will also be able to come home from work relatively early to spend enough time with your family.

However, you will still also have to deal with snarky comments from time to time and some people whom you convicted may also seek revenge sooner or later and may threaten you and your family.

Do you need a college degree for becoming a judge?

Not only will you have to get a bachelor’s degree, but you will also have to get a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree in law school and practice law for a few years before you will be eligible for working as a judge.

Hence, you will have to spend many years of your life on education to reach your dream of becoming a judge and you will have to make many sacrifices along the way.

Do you need to be certified to work as a judge?

While you don’t need to be certified for working as a judge, you will still have to be officially appointed and earn your judgement before you are able to work in this field.

How much does it cost to become a judge?

Since you will have to spend many years on education, you will have to spend lots of time and money on college and many judges will therefore have to pay back six-figure student loans.

Thus, make sure that you want to work in this field for quite a while to make it worth the huge initial investment.

Is being a judge a good career?

Since judges can make really good money, have a high social standing and come home from work relatively early, most people consider being a judge a good career and many judges are also pretty happy with their overall working conditions.

Is it easy to start your own business as a judge?

It is not possible to start your own business as a judge.

If you want to work self-employed, you should not become a judge but rather work as a lawyer instead.

Can judges teach themselves?

Judges are not able to teach themselves.

While they will learn many things on the job, they will also need fancy formal education before they are even able to work as a judge.

Do judges make good money?

Judges can make really good money.

In fact, you will be able to make more money than 90% of all people out there and if you are really ambitious, you may even be able to make additional money on the side through duties in the supervisory board of companies.

Is it ever too late to become a judge?

Since you will have to spend many years on education, you should start your career as a judge as early as possible to make it worth the initial investment.

Do judges have to quit their careers early?

Judges don’t have to quit their careers early since they don’t have to work in a hard physical manner.

Instead, most judges are able to do this job for many decades until they finally get to official retirement age.

What is the most challenging thing about working as a judge?

The most challenging thing about being a judge is that you have to deal with lots of emotional pressure since mistakes on your side could lead to serious adverse outcomes for many people.

Can you provide for your family by working as a judge?

You will easily be able to provide for your family as a judge since you will be able to make really good money from what you are doing and you will be able to afford a fancy lifestyle and many nice things.

Will judges suffer from old-age poverty?

Most judges don’t have to worry about old-age poverty since they are able to make more than enough money during their active careers and will also get pretty decent pensions.

Hence, while many other people like hairdressers or truck drivers are often no longer able to pay their bills anymore once they retire, you as a judge will be in a pretty comfortable situation in this regard.

Can judges retire early?

Since judges can make good money, you may be able to retire early if you save and invest your money wisely and don’t spend it on stupid things you actually don’t need.

Thus, whether you may be able to retire early as a judge greatly depends on your spending habits.

Do judges get a fixed or variable salary?

Judges get fixed salaries most of the time.

Consequently, you will have a high level of security regarding your paycheck every month while many other people who work in sales often don’t have this luxury and have a high variable salary component.

Can you get rich as a judge?

While you will be able to make decent money as a judge, it will still be hard for you to get rich and if getting rich is your goal, you should rather work as a doctor or dentist or start your own law business.

Do judges need a second job?

Judges don’t need a second job to pay their bills since they can make really good money from what they are doing and are able to afford many nice things from their day jobs.

Do you get continuous training as a judge?

While you will spend many years on education before you are able to become a judge, you will no longer get continuous training once you already work in this field.

Instead, it will be on you to hone your craft and to get better at what you are doing in the long run.

Do you get sick pay as a judge?

Most judges also receive sick pay.

Hence, in case you get sick, you will still get paid and don’t have to worry about financial issues as many other people out there who work in different fields have to do.

Do judges have a high level of responsibility?

Judges have a pretty high level of responsibility since mistakes on their side can lead to serious adverse effects for many people and good judgement is also crucial that people feel like they are treated in a fair manner and don’t lose faith in our system.

Can judges work abroad?

Judges are needed all over the world and you will therefore also be able to work abroad as a judge.

However, educational requirements and overall working conditions may be quite different from what you are used to at home and you should inform yourself in this regard to avoid unpleasant surprises later on.

Is it stressful to work as a judge?

Working as a judge can be stressful since you will have to deal with lots of adversity and if you are not a strong character, those things may really get under your skin and may seriously stress you on an emotional level.

Is it boring to work as a judge?

Working as a judge is not boring at all since you will have to deal with many different people with different attitudes and you can never be sure what to expect since every day will be different.

Is being a judge hard?

Working as a judge can be hard from an emotional point of view since you will see and hear many bad things every day and if you are the type of person having a hard time unplugging from work, you may also dream a lot about those issues and your brain may never be able to rest or relax.

Are judges at risk of burnout?

Since judges work in a relatively stressful environment and have to deal with lots of adversity, many of them are also at significant risk of suffering from burnout and other mental health issues.

Is there a dress code for judges?

Judges will often wear pretty conservative clothing.

However, your official dress code will greatly depend on the region you work in.

What kind of judges are paid the most?

The more senior you become as a judge and the more responsibilities you have, the more you will be able to make as a judge.

Therefore, if you want to make really good money, you will also have to put in the work to make some money on the side.

What percentage of judges are women?

Around 34% of all judges are women while 64% are men.

While this field is still dominated by men, an increasing number of women aspire to a career in this field and chances are that the ratio between men and women will be pretty even in just one decade.

Do I need a mentor to succeed as a judge?

While you don’t urgently need a mentor to succeed as a judge, it can still help to have someone on your side who could support you during difficult periods when you might just want to give up and quit your career.

Will you be personally liable for mistakes as a judge?

As a judge, you will not be personally liable for mistakes you make most of the time.

However, you might still want to get proper insurance in this regard to be covered in case of emergency.

Do judges have a high life expectancy?

Judges enjoy pretty decent life expectancy since they are not at great risk of suffering from serious accidents at work and also make enough money to afford proper medical treatment in case of emergency.

Do judges suffer from sleeping problems?

Since judges don’t have to work at nighttime, they are at relatively low risk of suffering from sleeping problems since they can maintain a steady sleeping pattern.

However, some judges still stay awake at night since they are not able to unplug from work and from the unpleasant things they’ve heard.

What states are best for working as a judge?

You will be able to make the best money by working in California or New York on average.

However, you can make decent money in every state and you should therefore work and live in the state where you feel most comfortable.

Who do judges work with?

Judges work with many different prosecutors, defense attorneys and defendants every day.

Hence, you should have a talent for dealing with people at an emotional level to succeed in your job in the long run.

Is working as a judge cool?

Working as a judge is considered cool by many people since you will have lots of power to change the world to the positive and to maintain a high level of safety in society in general.

Can you start a side hustle as a judge?

As a judge, you will also be able to start many side hustles since you will hear many different stories and will get many ideas for new business ventures.

Moreover, you will also have enough time to start a side hustle as a judge since you will not have to work a second job to pay your bills.

Do you have to be creative as a judge?

Being creative can also help you as a judge since you will have an easier time finding solutions to complex conflicts. However, it is not a necessity and it is still much more important that you have good people skills.

Do judges suffer from being overweight?

Many judges suffer from being overweight since they are barely work in a physical manner at all and will therefore not burn enough calories at work to stay fit in the long run.

How employable are judges?

Judges are in great demand right now and since barriers to entry are pretty high and you have to spend many years on education, you will have a rather easy time working as a judge once you meet those high requirements.

Are judges happy with their jobs?

Most judges are pretty happy with their jobs since they are able to make good money while they still have decent job security and also have enough leisure to spend with their families.

Is working as a judge exciting?

Working as a judge can be pretty exciting since you will meet many new people and you will also never know how your workday will turn out since you will experience new things and situations every day.

Can you have a positive impact on our environment as a judge?

As a judge, your positive impact on our environment will be rather limited since you will mainly care about resolving conflicts between private parties and will not have that much influence on environmental rules and regulations, at least if you don’t specialize in this field.

What are the pros and cons of working as a judge?

If you still want to become a judge, you should also have a look at additional pros and cons of a judge career.

Sources

https://www.statista.com/statistics/1135239/number-active-federal-judges-appointed-president-us/

https://www.statista.com/statistics/1087407/number-judges-magistrates-judicial-workers-united-states/

Interviews and own research.

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.

This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.

Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.

I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.

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