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.

Career Definition for a District Court Judge

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.

Required Education Law degree
Job Skills Detail oriented, ethics, interpersonal skills, problem solving
Annual Salary (2018)* $208,000 (all district court judges)
Job Growth (2016-2026)** 6% (all judges, magistrate judges, and magistrates)

Source: *Federal Judiciary Center, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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 $208,000 in 2018, according to the Federal Judicial Center (www.fjc.gov). According to BLS data, employment among all judges, magistrate judges and magistrates is expected to grow about 6% from 2016-2026.

Alternate Career Options

Those seeking to become a district court judge may consider occupations in law and conflict resolution, working as an arbitrator or lawyer.

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 2016-2026, faster than average employment growth of 10% was predicted by the BLS, and an annual median salary of $60,670 was reported in 2017.


Requiring a law degree and usually a state bar exam, this profession offered an annual median wage of $119,250 in 2017 and was expected to grow at an average pace of 8% through 2026, 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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