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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
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.
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.