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Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates
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Description: what do they do?
Arbitrate, advise, adjudicate, or administer justice in a court of law. May sentence defendant in criminal cases according to government statutes or sentencing guidelines. May determine liability of defendant in civil cases. May perform wedding ceremonies.
Also known as:
District Court Judge, County Judge, Judge, Magistrate, Court of Appeals Judge, Circuit Judge, Superior Court Judge, Justice of the Peace, Circuit Court Judge, Municipal Court Judge

    What does this information tell me?

    This description is a quick overview of what workers in this career might do.

    "Also known as" shows other common names for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from an O*NET database. Learn more on the Help page.

Career video
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    Transcript: One of our most important rights —the right to a fair trial— rests on the shoulders of judges and hearing officers. They conduct pretrial hearings, resolve administrative disputes, facilitate negotiations between opposing parties, and issue legal decisions. Judges hear cases that range from traffic offenses to the rights of large corporations. Before a trial, they often review documents, research legal issues, and listen to arguments to determine if a trial is warranted. Depending on the case, judges either instruct jurors on the law and guide them in considering evidence, or decide the case directly, determining whether a sentence or penalty is justified. Critically, they ensure fair proceedings so that the legal rights of all involved parties are protected. Administrative law judges, adjudicators, and hearing officers operate outside the courts— they work for government agencies, on issues such as determining eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits or verifying a case of employment discrimination. Judges and hearing officers work for state, local, and federal governments. Hours are full time, sometimes with evening and weekend hours, and on-call duty for emergencies. Although a few positions require only a bachelor’s degree… a law degree, license, and years of work experience as a lawyer are typically required for judges or hearing officers. Some positions are elected… others are appointed… for terms lasting from 4 years to life.
View transcript
Outlook: will there be jobs?
Image. Employment outlook for this occupation
New job opportunities are likely in the future.


    What does this information tell me?

    Outlook information can tell you whether a career is expected to be in demand in the future—that is, whether there are likely to be job openings if you choose this career. Careers can have one of three outlooks:

    • A Bright outlook means new job opportunities are very likely in the future
    • An Average outlook means that a small number of new job opportunities are likely in the future (less than an 8 percent increase)
    • A Below Average outlook means new job opportunities are less likely in the future

    You can also view local job listings in this field by clicking "Find job openings" above. This can help you see if local businesses are hiring—another way of looking at demand.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET’s Bright Outlook occupations. Note this information is only available at a national level, so even if you selected a state, you’ll only see this information for the whole country.

Projected employment
United States
28,400
2016 Employment
30,000
2026 Employment
6%
Percent change
1,400
Annual projected job openings

    What does this information tell me?

    Projected employment shows how much employment is expected to grow in this occupation over a 10-year period. This can help you decide if this career is a good choice for future job opportunities. You can look at projected employment in your state, or in other states where you might consider living.

    You can see the total number of people employed in this occupation in 2016, the number expected to be employed in 2026, and rate of growth over those years.

    The projections are based on assumptions of unemployment rates and labor productivity growth rates.  While the projected numbers may not be exact, they are helpful to compare one career to another, or one location to another.

    What is the source of this information?

    State-level data come from Projections Central and each state's Labor Market Information office.

    National-level data come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, 2016-26.

Typical wages

Annual wages for Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates in United States
This graph displays wage data.  Find details by selecting the table view.
This chart displays wage data.  Find details by selecting the table view.
LocationUnited States
10%$34,790
25%$71,430
Median$133,920
75%$163,050
90%$193,330


    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you a range of how much most workers in this occupation earn per hour, in the location that you selected.

    You can select from three views of this data:

    • The Graph shows you wages at the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th and 90th percentiles. Note that the lowest (10th %ile) wage shown is not necessarily a "starting wage." Instead it means that 10 percent of all workers in this career earn less that this amount, and 90 percent earn more. However, you can assume that you might earn close to the 10th or 25th %ile wages when you start out in most careers.
    • Select "Chart" to see a visual comparison between national wages and wages in the location you selected.
    • Select "Table" to see more wage data the national and local level.

    Please note that wage data are not available at the city or ZIP code level. If you selected a city or ZIP code, you will see wage data for the regional area.

    Also note that in this update, 21 detailed occupations found within the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) were replaced with 10 new aggregations of those occupations; read more about these OES changes.

    You can learn more about wages for this and other occupations by clicking “See more wages” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    The wage information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics Program, 2018 data. For more detailed state wage data, please find the link to your state's wage data program in the Other Resources box.

Education and experience: to get started
People starting in this career usually have:
  • Doctoral or professional degree
  • 5 years or more work experience
  • Less than 1 month on-the-job training

Programs that can prepare you:

    What does this information tell me?

    This shows you the typical level of education, work experience, and on-the-job training that most people have when they start in this career. Note that these are not requirements for entering this field, but the information can help you understand how qualified you might be.

    Interested in starting in this career? You can search for education programs in your local area by clicking “Find local training” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections Education and Training Data.

Typical education
How much education do most people in this career have?
Chart. Percent of workers in this field by education level attained

    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you the range of education levels that people who currently work in this field have. You can use this to see if you fit in this range. Note that this includes ALL people who work in this field and not just those getting started.

    Interested in getting qualified for this career? You can search for programs that lead to the education needed, in your local area, by clicking “Find local training” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections Education and Training Data.

Certifications: show your skills
Let employers know you have the skills to do well at this job.
Earning a certification can help you:
  • Get a job
  • Get a promotion

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find certifications" you'll see a list of national certifications that are related to this career. From there, you can learn how to achieve one of these certifications to help you enter or get ahead in this field.

    What is the source of this information?

    This collection of occupational certifications is collected and regularly updated by CareerOneStop. Learn more at Certification Finder Help.

Licenses: do you need one?
Some states require an occupational license to work in this career.

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find license details in your state" you'll see the license name and contact information for the agency in your state that oversees licensing for this field. If you have not selected a location, you'll see a list of all state licenses for this occupation.

    What is the source of this information?

    Information on licensed occupations is gathered in each state by Labor Market Information units under a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. Learn more at License Finder Help.

Apprenticeships: learn on the job
Apprenticeships combine paid on-the-job-training with classroom lessons.

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find apprenticeship sponsors" you'll find information that can help you locate apprenticeship opportunities in your state:

    • If there are businesses that have sponsored apprenticeships in this field in the past, you'll find their name and contact information.
    • If there are related occupations that might have apprenticeship opportunities, you'll find links to that information.
    • You'll also see contact information for state and federal agencies that oversee apprenticeship programs.

    What is the source of this information?

    Apprenticeship information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Apprenticeships, and from CareerOneStop. Learn more at Apprenticeship Finder Help.

Activities: what you might do in a day
  • Make decisions in legal cases.
  • Identify implications for cases from legal precedents or other legal information.
  • Research relevant legal materials to aid decision making.
  • Authorize payments to settle legal disputes.
  • Rule on admissibility of legal proceedings.
  • Direct courtroom activities or procedures.
  • Conduct hearings to investigate legal issues.
  • Prepare written decisions for legal proceedings.
  • Arbitrate disputes between parties to resolve legal conflicts.
  • Supervise activities of other legal personnel.
  • Administer oaths to court participants.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical work activities that people in this career might do on the job. You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More activities” to see more detailed examples of activities for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these activities to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET’s Detailed Work Activities.

Knowledge
People in this career often know a lot about:
  • Law and Government - Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Public Safety and Security - Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
  • Psychology - Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • Administration and Management - Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of general knowledge areas that are most commonly required for jobs in the career. Knowledge is typically gained through education and related experience.

    This list can help you learn if you are prepared for a job in this career. It can also help you decide on education or training programs that could help you prepare for the career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Knowledge descriptors.

Skills
People in this career often have these skills:
  • Critical Thinking - Thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem.
  • Active Listening - Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Thinking about the pros and cons of different options and picking the best one.
  • Reading Comprehension - Reading work-related information.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it.
  • Speaking - Talking to others.
  • Active Learning - Figuring out how to use new ideas or things.
  • Writing - Writing things for co-workers or customers.
  • Monitoring - Keeping track of how well people and/or groups are doing in order to make improvements.
  • Social Perceptiveness - Understanding people's reactions.
  • Negotiation - Bringing people together to solve differences.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list the work-related skills most commonly required for jobs in the career.

    This list can help you understand how well your current skills fit this career. It can also help you plan your education or professional development.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Skills descriptors.

Abilities
People in this career often have talent in:
  • Deductive Reasoning - Using rules to solve problems.
  • Oral Comprehension - Listening and understanding what people say.
  • Inductive Reasoning - Making general rules or coming up with answers from lots of detailed information.
  • Written Comprehension - Reading and understanding what is written.
  • Speech Clarity - Speaking clearly.
  • Oral Expression - Communicating by speaking.
  • Written Expression - Communicating by writing.
  • Problem Sensitivity - Noticing when problems happen.
  • Speech Recognition - Recognizing spoken words.
  • Near Vision - Seeing details up close.
  • Information Ordering - Ordering or arranging things.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list of personal qualities that might influence work and are most commonly required for success in this career.

    This list can help you understand if your natural strengths and abilities are a good fit for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Abilities descriptors.

Interests
  • Enterprising - Occupations with Enterprising interests frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. Many involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.
  • Social - Occupations with Social interests frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. Most involve helping or providing service to others.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of work environment-preferences that are most commonly associated with the career. It can help you understand if your natural interests are a good fit for this career.

    Click "Take an interest assessment" for a quick 30-question assessment that can help you understand your interests and see careers that might be good matches for them.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Interest descriptors.

Typical tasks
  • Rule on custody and access disputes, and enforce court orders regarding custody and support of children.
  • Read documents on pleadings and motions to ascertain facts and issues.
  • Sentence defendants in criminal cases, on conviction by jury, according to applicable government statutes.
  • Grant divorces and divide assets between spouses.
  • Rule on admissibility of evidence and methods of conducting testimony.
  • Instruct juries on applicable laws, direct juries to deduce the facts from the evidence presented, and hear their verdicts.
  • Award compensation for damages to litigants in civil cases in relation to findings by juries or by the court.
  • Monitor proceedings to ensure that all applicable rules and procedures are followed.
  • Preside over hearings and listen to allegations made by plaintiffs to determine whether the evidence supports the charges.
  • Research legal issues and write opinions on the issues.
  • Write decisions on cases.
  • Participate in judicial tribunals to help resolve disputes.
  • Advise attorneys, juries, litigants, and court personnel regarding conduct, issues, and proceedings.
  • Interpret and enforce rules of procedure or establish new rules in situations where there are no procedures already established by law.
  • Settle disputes between opposing attorneys.
  • Conduct preliminary hearings to decide issues such as whether there is reasonable and probable cause to hold defendants in felony cases.
  • Supervise other judges, court officers, and the court's administrative staff.
  • Perform wedding ceremonies.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical tasks that people in this career might do on the job.  You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More tasks” to see more detailed examples for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these tasks to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET‘s Tasks.

Other resources

    What does this information tell me?

    These are additional online resources related to this career. You may find different or more detailed information at these sources.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information is collected and maintained by CareerOneStop.