Should I Become a Bailiff?
Bailiffs are law enforcement officers responsible for the security of courts and court personnel. The duties of bailiffs may vary depending on their assignments. Bailiffs are responsible for preventing contraband from being brought into the courthouse and may use scanning devices such as magnetometers, hand-held wands, x-ray machines, and chemical detection devices to screen persons and their belongings upon entering.
Bailiffs who work in the courtroom call the room to order, announce the judge's arrival, protect the judge, parties and jury, and escort prisoners and generally maintain the security and decorum of court proceedings. A certain amount of stress may occur on the job, especially during high profile court proceedings.
A job as a bailiff will require a high school diploma. However, some jurisdictions may require post-secondary education. In addition, bailiffs will likely need to earn certification by completing Police (or Peace) Officer Standards Training, know as P.O.S.T. Key skills that could be beneficial when working in this field of law enforcement include the ability to work with public and hostile parties, computer skills such as word processing, spreadsheet, legal and general research on the Internet, and statistical reporting. Individuals will also need technical knowledge of magnetometers, x-ray machines and other devices used to detect, identify, and confiscate unauthorized firearms, knives, and other contraband. Knowledge of law enforcement and judicial procedures will also be beneficial when applying for an open position. Other additional requirements for working as a bailiff include a valid driver's license, meeting physical fitness requirements, passing a physical exam and psychological evaluation, minimum 21 years of age, proficiency with firearms, and passing a drug test and background investigation. This may mean no felony or disqualifying misdemeanor convictions. Some job openings for bailiffs will be expecting job-related experience in order to gain employment. In May of 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median annual salary for bailiffs was $40,580.
Step 1: Complete P.O.S.T Training
Since bailiffs are considered law enforcement officers, they are generally required to have completed a minimum level of P.O.S.T. training and obtain P.O.S.T. certification. This training is generally provided at a police academy and lasts from 3-6 months, depending on the level of training required by the court advertising the position. In some cases, it is possible to complete P.O.S.T. training as a non-affiliated student, that is, prior to obtaining a law enforcement job where a sponsoring agency pays the program fees.
The cadets are trained in federal, state, and local law, firearms, arrest procedures and law enforcement procedures. There may also be a physical training and hands-on practice component. Applicants for this training must have a high school diploma or equivalent, no felony convictions, and no disqualifying misdemeanor convictions. After completing the training, they must pass the state P.O.S.T. examination before certification is awarded. P.O.S.T. certification is generally valid as long as the graduate is working in law enforcement.
When preparing to look for work as a bailiff, interested individuals may also consider earning CPR certification. In some cases, P.O.S.T. certification requires that candidates also have valid CPR certification. CPR training and certification providers, like the American Red Cross, offer classes to individuals that can be completed in one day.
Step 2: Obtain Experience
Obtaining an entry-level job in a court setting can provide valuable law and judicial procedure experience to an aspiring bailiff. The prospective bailiff can also acquire law enforcement experience by working as a deputy sheriff or police officer after graduating from the police academy. In some cases, applicants who are hired for bailiff positions will be sent to P.O.S.T. training by the court that hires them. Employers may prefer applicants with 2-5 years of work experience in positions related to law enforcement or court procedures.
Step 3: Advance in the Field
Bailiffs looking to secure a job at a higher level will typically advance by gaining years of experience. Bailiffs may consider advancing to jobs in the active police force or transferring to a position as a correctional officer at a prison.
A career as a bailiff will require several straightforward achievements: a high school diploma, earning P.O.S.T certification, and gaining some law enforcement or court proceeding experience in order to serve the courts as a qualified officer who scans, detects, and prevents contraband from entering a courthouse and who ensures order in a courtroom.