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District Court Judge: Employment Info & Requirements

The path to appointment as a district court judge typically requires earning a law degree and successfully practicing law. These judges usually reside in the geographical district where they are appointed. Read on to learn more about this profession.

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Career Definition

A district court judge is appointed by the President of the United States with advice and recommendations of a judicial review panel. There are 94 U.S. District Courts with lifetime appointments in most of the districts.

How to Become a District Court Judge

Required Education

In almost every instance, a U.S. District Court Judge has completed a bachelor's degree followed by a degree of Juris Doctor (J.D.). Often, years of experience as a practicing attorney make it possible for the prospective district court judge to be considered for appointment. Most judges are expected to complete continuing education and training courses.

Skills Required

A district court judge will be knowledgeable in matters of law and will have the ability to decide matters of law in an impartial manner. Good behavior is required for a district court judge to retain office, but cases of impeachment are rare.

Career and Economic Outlook

Because there are a limited number of district court judges, and because the prestige of the position is high, competition for appointments is keen. Appointment as a district court judge usually requires at least some political backing. The annual wage for a district court judge was $199,100 in 2014, according to the Federal Judicial Center (

Alternate Career Options

Arbitrator, Mediator and Conciliator

Some of these positions require only a bachelor's degree, while others may require master's or law degrees. These professionals assist others in resolving conflicts outside of court. From 2012-2022, average employment growth of 10% was predicted by the BLS, and an annual median salary of $61,280 was reported in 2012.


Requiring a law degree and usually a state bar exam, this profession offered an annual median wage of $113,530 in 2012 and was expected to grow at an average pace of 10% through 2022, per the BLS. Lawyers who are employed in government, corporate and private legal offices advise and provide representation to individuals, agencies and businesses concerning legal issues.

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Avg. Wages For Related Jobs

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics