Should I Become a Court Administrator?
Court administrators primarily work at trial, circuit and district courts. In this career field, you'll take care of administrative aspects of courthouse operations. The job of court administrator has become specialized due to the different sizes of jurisdictions and courtroom settings in the United States. However, it would be common for you to perform managerial duties that involve overseeing and administering the smooth operation of personnel, records and dockets, facilities management and budget. Sometimes, you might need to work overtime in this field.
|Degree Level||Undergraduate, graduate or professional degree|
|Degree Fields||Business, public administration, judicial administration or related discipline|
|Certification||Certification required in some states|
|Key Skills||Skills in related areas, such as clerical, administration and management, personal service and personnel information systems|
|Salary (2014)||$83,430 (average for administrative services managers in local governments)|
Sources: Job descriptions from the National Center for State Courts (2007-2012), Various state judicial authorities, O*Net OnLine, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Step 1: Obtain a Degree
Although education qualifications for court administrators differ by state, county or federal jurisdiction, nearly all require at least a bachelor's degree. Individuals interested in a career as a court administrator may consider degree programs in fields such as public administration, business management or judicial administration.
Some court systems require graduate degrees in the above-mentioned fields. Alternatively, a three-year Juris Doctor (JD) program can provide individuals with a strong background in legal proceedings. While court administrators are not usually required to obtain these higher degrees for employment at the city or county court levels, it may be required at the state and federal levels.
Step 2: Gain Experience
Courts typically prefer to hire administrators who have related experience, primarily in jobs related to public or judicial administration. Those who have corporate administrative experience can apply those years as equivalent experience. Some courthouses also allow court administrator certification programs to fulfill part of the experience requirement. Court internships count as experience as does holding an administrative clerk's position and earning increasing responsibilities and advancement. Managing a law office or other businesses related to the legal system can further prove an applicant's advanced skill level and background.
Step 3: Consider Certification Options
Some states and municipalities have certification requirements for court administrators. These certification programs are often administered by the state, and the applicant generally has to have a few years' experience in court administration before qualifying for certification. In some states, certification is voluntary, but the added credential gives the administrator a competitive edge. As each state and federal court has different requirements, individuals should verify what type of court administrator certification or licensing that the court offering the position for which they are applying requires.
- Fulfill recertification requirements. Regardless of the state that issues the certification, the certifying authority often requires the administrator to fulfill continuing education requirements as a condition of granting recertification. Be sure to obtain the continuing education before the deadline to ensure the certification does not lapse.