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Career Profile: Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates

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.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 29,400 people employed as judges, magistrate judges, and magistrates in the United States. The median annual salary is $141,100. Entry level employees earn approximately $40,270 per year and senior employees earn approximately $208,000 (or more) per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

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

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
29,400
Annual Openings:
1,500
Increase in Openings by 2030:
3%
Annual Salary Range:
$40,270 - $208,000
Education Requirements:
Master's degree or higher