Career Definition for a Justice of the Peace
In some U.S. states, a justice of the peace serves as the chief officer of a court with limited jurisdiction. The justice of the peace hears cases involving petty crimes, misdemeanors, traffic violations, debt resolution, landlord/tenant disagreements, or small claims actions. A justice of the peace is often authorized to perform a civil marriage ceremony.
|Job Skills||Good oral and written communication skills, time management, ability to arrive at fact-based conclusions|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$94,790 (administrative law judges, adjudicators, and hearing officers)|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)*||4% (administrative law judges, adjudicators, and hearing officers)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Most states have their own unique requirements for candidates wishing to become a justice of the peace, though many states share similar qualifications. Although a degree is not mandatory, applicants are expected to be extremely familiar with the legislative process, and a law degree can provide essential knowledge. Some states, such as Delaware, require new justices of the peace to complete a Beginning Legal Education (BLE) program, in which candidates receive instruction and observe courtroom proceedings in order to better understand their professional duties.
Job Skills Required
It is important for a justice of the peace to possess good writing and oral communication skills. He or she must be able to work independently, managing time and other resources to handle significant workloads. An ability to process facts and arrive at an impartial conclusion is imperative.
The number of administrative law judge positions is expected to increase by 4% over the next decade. Strict budget cuts are expected to limit the growth of positions similar to that of a justice of the peace, despite the need for them in some local municipalities. Salaries are often set locally, so there is a wide variance in typical earnings.
Alternative Career Option
Other careers that are similar to a Justice of the Peace that might interest you include:
Also known as pastors, ministers, priests or chaplains, clergy may perform spiritual ceremonies like weddings, deliver sermons and counsel individuals. An undergraduate or graduate degree is typically required. The projected job growth, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), is 8% for the 2016-2026 decade. The median annual income was $47,100 in 2017, according to the BLS.
If you are interested in legal research and court proceedings, becoming a lawyer might be worth considering. These professionals typically must earn a bachelor's degree and a Juris Doctor - a graduate-level legal degree - along with state licensure. The number of employed lawyers was expected to increase 8% from 2016 to 2026, according to the BLS, and the median salary among all kinds of lawyers was $119,250 in 2017.