How to Become a Court Officer: Education and Career Roadmap

Mar 05, 2020

Learn how to become a court officer. Research the education requirements, training information and experience required for starting a career as a court officer.

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Should I Become a Court Officer?

Degree Level High school diploma or equivalent; some states require a bachelor's degree
Training On-the-job training common
Degree Field Criminal justice, criminology, law enforcement, or related field
License Some jurisdictions may require court officers to possess a firearm license
Key Skills Communication, problem-solving, conflict management, time management, and interpersonal communication skills; physical strength; use of scanning equipment such as x-ray machines
Salary $45,760 (2018 median for bailiffs)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, ISEEK, O*Net OnLine

Court officers may also be referred to as bailiffs or court security officers. These officers work in courthouses to provide enforcement and administrative support to judges, juries, defendants, and the public in multiple capacities.

Court officers usually work full-time schedules in courtrooms. Because their duties concentrate on peace-keeping within a courtroom, they work during business hours, Monday through Friday. Although fewer confrontations occur within the courts than other locations correctional officers may work, bailiffs must still be armed and alert for any disturbances within the courtroom. They may be exposed to personal risk while on the job and must stand for long hours at a time.

Key skills for court officers include communication, problem-solving, conflict management skills, time management and interpersonal communication skills, physical strength, and use of scanning equipment such as x-ray machines. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website, bailiffs made a median annual wage of $45,760 as of May 2018.

Step 1: Acquire Education

Minimum education requirements of a court officer generally include a high school diploma or GED. However, some state and federal courts may require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree or pass a court officer examination. Related bachelor's degree programs, such as the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Law Enforcement or B.S. in Criminal Justice, can help prospective officers learn about areas like public safety and court procedures.

For a higher chance of success in this field, prepare in high school. Elective high school courses such as health, safety and first aid and social studies will help prepare someone interested in court officer work.

Step 2: Attain Relevant Experience

Possessing some form of prior work experience in supervising, assisting or counseling individuals can help you to prepare for a career as a court officer. Additionally, correctional or military training may provide complementary expertise and proficiencies. Many courts require applicants to have obtained some background experience either in law enforcement, clerical or legal positions.

Step 3: Meet Job-Specific Requirements

Many state and federal courts require court officers and bailiffs to carry a sidearm, necessitating the acquisition of a gun license or permit. Applicants to a court officer position typically must undergo background checks and drug testing. Knowledge of legal terminology or experience in a courtroom is often recommended. States may have special requirements, such as ability to pass a physical examination, or completion of a training academy. Some states require bailiffs to be of a minimum age, usually 21.

It is important to practice and maintain job skills. After entering the field, a court officer needs to maintain the skills necessary to perform the job. Continued training and education may include disturbance response, defensive techniques, forced prisoner maneuvers or basic administrative skills. Staying abreast of legal knowledge and correctional abilities helps a court officer to provide a safe and efficient environment.

Step 4: Keep Credentials Current

Keep background checks and gun license current. Some states may also require a current driver's license. It may also be important to maintain adequate physical fitness and stamina to be able to perform essential functions of court officer work.

Remember, to become a court officer you'll need to complete education requirements, which can vary by state and court level, as well as gain relevant experience and meet any job specific requirements, like holding a gun permit or passing a drug test.

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