How to Become a Judge Step By Step: Your Career Guide

Judges must hold bachelor’s and Juris Doctor (J.D.) degrees and pass rigorous examinations.
  1. Step One: Obtain an Undergraduate Degree. …
  2. Step Two: Attend Law School and Obtain a Juris Doctor. …
  3. Step Three: Pass the Bar and Other Exams. …
  4. Step Four: Become Appointed or Elected to the Court. …
  5. Step Five: Complete Judgeship Training.

There are many opportunities in the legal field other than becoming a lawyer, so if you’re interested in the field but aren’t sure if that’s the best fit for you, don’t worry. A worthwhile endeavor is to pursue a career as a judge. As a judge, you will hear cases, conduct research and read legal documents, examine the evidence, pay attention to witnesses and attorneys, and ultimately determine whether a defendant is innocent or guilty.

How to Become a Judge : With & Without a Law Degree

Average salary for a judge

Judges are respected for their experience within the legal field. Many begin their legal careers as defense attorneys or prosecutors. Afterward, they run for office or are appointed to the bench based on their background, standing, and connections in the legal and political worlds.

Here are some steps to get you started on your career path if you want to become a judge:

1. Earn a bachelors degree

A bachelor’s degree is required to apply to law school. Though some universities have pre-law programs specifically designed for them, strong alternatives include criminal justice, political science, and philosophy To ensure that you are prepared for the next steps, your coursework should include English, communications, public speaking, and sociology.

Consider completing an internship with a law office or local court system in addition to relevant coursework. Additionally, you can participate in extracurriculars like the debate club to enhance your application to law school.

2. Take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT)

3. Attend law school and earn a Juris Doctor

A typical law school education lasts three years and includes advanced legal process instruction. Some courses you can expect to take are:

4. Pass the bar exam

You must pass the bar exam in the state where you intend to practice law in order to practice law. Some businesses take on recent graduates and let them work while they study for the bar. In some states, bar candidates can forego attending law school in favor of shadowing an active lawyer or judge.

Bar certification varies by state. An attorney who is currently licensed in one state may need to take additional testing in order to be able to practice in another due to these different requirements.

5. Create your resume

Before submitting your resume with an application, you should also take the time to modify it, changing the content to highlight the abilities and responsibilities of the job you’re applying for. You are more likely to make a good first impression on the hiring manager and be given the chance to interview for the position if your resume closely matches a job posting.

6. Consider becoming a clerk

Serving as a clerk can be very beneficial to your chances of becoming a judge in the future in addition to being beneficial professionally. Because clerkships are highly valued, they can help you stand out from other applicants. Time as a clerk is also valuable for networking. When a judge steps down from an appointed position, they make recommendations for their successor, and it’s common for them to suggest former law clerks.

7. Practice law

Judges are typically appointed after working as attorneys and trying cases. When deciding how to practice law, there are several options. You could decide to work for the government as a public defender or a prosecutor. Working for a private law firm is another choice that is available. Many law firms have different areas of expertise, like bankruptcy or health law.

If you want to become a judge, practicing case-trying is a good experience. Trials not only give real-world experience of courtroom proceedings but also a chance to network in the legal community. Participating in cases may draw the attention of those in charge of selecting judges for appointment or those in charge of creating shortlists for consideration

8. Earn your judgeship

You can start looking for opportunities as a judge once you have been practicing law for at least two years. Being appointed as a judge is a competitive goal because the number of seats available is constrained by the fact that many federal judges hold lifetime appointments. There are three methods of becoming a judge:

9: Complete judgeship training

What does a judge do?

A judge preside over trials or hearings, acting as a fair arbitrator and deciding what arguments, inquiries, and pieces of evidence are allowed to be presented. They could decide on the severity of the penalties or sentences imposed during trials. In some cases, a judge decides the case instead of a jury. is also accountable for submitting a decision in the case.

Despite the fact that most judges hear cases alone, some sit on courts with multiple judges who all hear the same case simultaneously and issue rulings based on the majority rule. The majority of federal judicial positions are lifetime appointments and require legislative confirmation.

FAQs about becoming a judge

Following are some of the most frequently asked questions about judicial careers, in case you’re thinking about applying to be a judge:

How long does it take to become a judge?

It is typical for the process to take years, and frequently decades, because there are many steps to obtaining this senior-level position. After graduating from high school, an attorney will have seven years of additional education and will likely spend time trying cases. Although it is possible to be appointed or elected to a position with little experience, it is uncommon to see candidates nominated who have less than two years of trial experience. After many decades of trial experience, lawyers frequently obtain judicial positions.

How long does a judge serve?

The term of a judge varies depending on the position they are filling. Judges who hold elected positions typically serve terms of four to 15 years before running for re-election if they are still eligible. Judges are given lifetime appointments for federal appointments as well as some state appointments. These judges remain in office until they decide to resign.

What are the requirements to be a judge?

Requirements for a judge vary depending on where they serve. Most states demand that candidates for judgeships have passed the state bar examination. Federal appointments do not have formal requirements.

Although there is no formal system, there are numerous expectations that serve as unofficial standards for a prospective judge, whether it be to obtain the necessary electoral support or legislative body confirmation. A judicial nominee must demonstrate legal proficiency, have experience representing clients in court, and maintain good standing with the state bar association.

What are the most important skills for a judge to possess?

A judge needs both hard and soft skills to be successful in the position, such as the following:

Do politics matter when appointing a judge?

The duty of an appointed judge is to uphold the law, not to engage in personal politics. While an elected official frequently vets candidates for positions and looks for judges who are likely to concur with them on important issues, a judge shouldn’t feel under any obligation to support the party or person who nominated them.

Jobs similar to judges

There are numerous options available if you’re interested in working in the legal system. Consider these options to start your career:


Is it hard to be a judge?

The decision to become a judge is a difficult one that takes time, effort, and years of study. Those who pursue a career in judging are aware that it will take perseverance and diligence to fulfill their professional aspiration of providing justice to the guilty and innocent.

How do you become the judge?

Twitty became the youngest judge in the country without a law degree in 2015 when she was appointed as an associate judge of the Municipal Court in Easley, South Carolina, at the age of just 25.

How long does it take to be a judge in US?

One must take the Judicial Services Examination, also known as the PCS (J)-Provincial Civil Service-Judicial Examination, in order to become a judge in the Indian Judicial Services. Law graduates who want to work as practicing members of the subordinate judiciary must pass the PCS-J examination.

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