How to Become a Judge

A judge is the head of a legal body in court. The judge presides over the proceedings and has the right to pass judgment and dictate the type and term of the sentence for the case discussed. In countries with common law like that of U.S., an attorney can become a judge, with additional training. In countries like France, which incorporates civil law, judges are trained legal professionals. In such countries, they head some inquiry panel and also oversee local courts.

Someone who wants to be a judge should have an extensive knowledge on the laws and an excellent ability to be impartial to the cases handled. You should be able to impart the laws, overcome the personal feelings in a case and must be willing to work long hours with a small salary. Regardless of these circumstances you have to help the judicial bodies carry out justice.

Career Decisions and Information

First, someone aspiring to become a judge should select the field or judicial reach which they want to preside in. For example, there are state judges, federal judges, criminal trials and so on. Then you should become a lawyer in the selected category.

  • A federal judge is one who can preside over any federal case including the Supreme Court. But they are usually nominated by the President and confirmed by the senate. Federal judges are assured lifetime tenure. This is a secure position.
  • State judges – each state has their own system of appointing judges. They might be appointed by a Governor approved committee or by direct election. But they need not be reelected every term.
  • Circuit judges are the most common type of judges who can preside over any type of case starting from murder, family disputes property dispute and so forth. Like state judges, such judges are elected and have to be re-elected every term.

After qualifying as an attorney, you can work as an attorney for some period or directly choose to become a judge. To become judge, an attorney has to apply for a judgeship or to win an election to have the liberty of being a judge just like politicians do in their own right. After being appointed a judge, you have to undergo an orientation course to retain his or her position. In the civil law system, the elected judge has to take up a separate legal training curriculum to decide the case’s outcome without a juries’ intervention or role.


A judge must be a U.S. citizen, 35 plus years, a licensed attorney and a resident of the district from where they want to join the judgeship. A judge should also maintain or have surpassed the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree and skills to analyze information, to be able to think logically, conduct research, be able to speak effectively.
  • A degree of Juris Doctor (JD) to become a lawyer.
  • Pass the bar examination of their respective state.
  • Get enough work experience and be a standout in your field.
  • Gain political advantage by having some community support.