Adjudicator: Job Description, Duties and Salary

Jan 16, 2020

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an adjudicator. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as information about degree programs and job duties to find out if this is the right career for you.

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  • 0:00 Essential Information
  • 0:19 Job Description
  • 1:05 Duties
  • 1:37 Salary

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Essential Information

Degree Level Master's, doctoral, or law degree
Degree Field(s) Law or other fields depending on position
License/Certification Examination required for federal positions
Experience Work experience as a lawyer is common
Key Skills Familiar with current laws and regulations; researching, analyzing, reviewing, and decision-making skills
Median Annual Salary (2018) $99,850 (for administrative law judges, adjudicators, and hearing officers)
$87,910 (for state-level adjudicators)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Adjudicators preside over, judge, and help arbitrate legal disputes pertaining to government issues and program eligibility. They determine the appropriate course of action for claims and settlements. Many adjudicators have advanced degrees and experience working as a lawyer. Federal adjudicators may need to pass an exam.

Job Description

Adjudicators work for all levels of government and are sometimes known as hearing officers or administrative law judges. Adjudicators make rulings that concern government programs. For example, adjudicators preside over cases involving the enforcement of health and safety regulations, economic rule compliance, workers' compensation eligibility, and hiring discrimination. They also recommend the rejection or acceptance of claims and settlements under government programs such as Social Security.

In most states, adjudicators need a master's, doctoral or law degree. Job requirements vary by position and employer. For example, judges with the federal government need to be lawyers and pass an exam. However, some states allow administrative law judges to come from a non-legal background.


Adjudicators must be familiar with current laws and regulations, so they often spend time researching, analyzing, and reviewing policies and laws relevant to their cases. When involved in a hearing, adjudicators are responsible for reviewing documents and paperwork, as well as meeting with individuals or organizations to gather relevant information. They decide whether or not evidence is admissible and if particular legal motions are acceptable. Adjudicators maintain justice in the courtroom by overseeing all activities that occur in the trials and hearings they oversee.


An adjudicator's salary varies depending on the level of government for which he or she works. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2018 administrative law judges, adjudicators, and hearing officers earned an average annual salary of $99,850. Most of these professionals work for state-level government, earning an average of $87,910 per year in 2018. Administrative law judges, adjudicators, and hearing officers working in Massachusetts, Alabama, and Missouri earned more that year than adjudicators in other states, per the BLS.

Adjudicators preside over, judge, and help arbitrate legal disputes pertaining to government issues and program eligibility. These professionals typically earn more than $99,000 a year.

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