Judge Career Profile

A career path as a judge can be highly competitive but rewarding for someone with a passion for serving the public via the legal system. Judges are highly respected in their field and are admired for the level-headed attitude the job requires. Judges should have a good understanding of people and of the law to promote fairness in the court system. Judges hear cases, conduct legal research, write papers and are generally the managers of the legal system. Judges may also find themselves particularly adept for jobs in the business world that require negotiation skills.


The minimum requirement for a career as a judge is technically a bachelor's degree. A law degree is required by most States, however. Most judges are licensed to practice law in the State of employment and usually hold a substantial amount of experience. No particular undergraduate degree is required to attend law school, so aspiring judges may choose any number of undergraduate majors like English, psychology or business.

District Court Judge

A district court judge is appointed by the President, as are all judges in the federal court system. The decision is approved by the Senate. A district court judge presides over a federally-appointed court district. Each State gets at least one court district. District court judges appoint magistrates or local court judges and have more responsibilities. District court judges receive lifetime appointments and are responsible for appointment State judges, in some cases. Federal court system judges may handle appeals, as part of the U.S. Courts of Appeals, criminal cases in the U.S. District Courts system or bankruptcy. The highest court for a federal-level judge to obtain appointment in is the Supreme Court.

State Court Judge

State court judges receive their office in a number of ways, depending on the State. State judges may only hear certain types of cases. State judges may also manage office or clerical workers and appoint lower judicial staff. State court judges generally serve for fixed number of years and do not receive lifetime appointments. State judges preside over a particular area of the court. As a case moves up through the court system, the decisions of the judges of lower courts influence the judgement through the progression of the case.

Administrative Judge

Administrative law judges work for the federal government. They are not elected and do not receive lifetime appointment. Administrative judges may work in a number of offices, such as Social Security. Administrative law judges may also mediate difficulties during negotiations between individuals and federal departments and some may be trained in medication, specifically. Administrative law judges may deal with health and safety issues, labor relations, employment discrimination and issues of environmental protection.


Judges generally earn between $50,000 and $100,000 per year. Salary is dependent on low high up a judge works within the court system. Federal judges may receive higher salaries than State judges, depending on the position. Administrative law judges generally earn somewhere in between, but usually stay on the upper end of the salary spectrum.