How to Become a Judge

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A judge will preside over a court in a federal, state, local or other jurisdiction. In general, judges are either elected or they are appointed. In the case of US federal judges, they are appointed for life tenure. Most other judges will serve with set renewable terms or fixed terms. Regardless of the capacity that a judge fills, the judge is the head of the court and therefore, presides over the proceedings. Ultimately, the judge will pass judgment pertaining to the legal case or may even dictate terms in a sentence. No matter what kind of court a judge sits on, the judge is held liable for the rights of the individual.

Becoming a Judge

In the United States, a judge must be an attorney first, and have several years of experience under his or her belt prior to attempting to become a judge.  Additionally, that person must have received further training, such as obtaining a degree of Juris Doctor (J.D.) to become a judge in Federal or state cases.
Prior to becoming a judge, a person should strive to be one of the best in their class as they study law. Once they are an attorney and have passed the bar exam, it is highly suggested that they do not practice in only one facet of law if they wish to become a judge. After all, a judge will be required to hear a plethora of cases dealing with many subjects although they may specialize in family law for instance, as other facets of law will be entwined in many cases. For instance, a trial judge will be heavily involved in a very divergent set of laws, yet must be a legal professional using whatever laws may apply in order to deal fairly and judiciously in such a trial.

As mentioned earlier, judgeships are either appointed or elected. Thus becoming a judge is also being able to win over people’s confidence in the knowledge of the law, as well as being judged themselves for impartiality and fairness in order to either garner votes or an appointment.


Obviously, a judge must have a wide-ranging knowledge and understanding of the law. Also, a judge must show distinct impartiality in each case. In order for truth and definitive justice to preside, judges will ask to be excused or dismissed from the trial, should they feel that they would not be able to remain impartial. A judge needs to be highly versed in conducting analysis in order to deliver a fair decision. They must not waffle, nor be afraid of hard work and of course discern the law as perfectly as possible.


There are several factors that determine the salary of a judge.  It depends on the years that a judge has put into service, as well as the specific court that he or she works for. For instance, in 2009, it was reported that the average judge made approximately $54,000 in the first four years. Those having 10 to 19 years experience make nearly $60,500. Twenty years or more yielded approximately $66,500.

Making money is therefore not the biggest reason that most desire to be a judge. Making money comes in second to the honor and prestige involved as a judge, as well as being able to actually make a marked difference in our ever confusing world. Regardless of the pay, by setting the goal to become a judge, you are setting a goal to hold one of the most respected occupations in our country. In doing so, you are helping to uphold our country’s legal system, and grant everyone fairness by the law.

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