For anyone interested in working in the legal field, the courtroom is full of exciting career opportunities.

Although legal proceedings are not always as dramatic as they are sometimes depicted on television and in movies, they are an integral part of our justice system.

Each of the following careers plays a different role in the courtroom:

1. Judge

Judges are responsible for presiding over legal proceedings including pretrial conferences, hearings and trials. Judges interpret the law and make determinations and rulings.

In criminal trials, the judge is responsible for sentencing defendants who are found guilty. In civil legal matters, the judge determines liability.

Judges need juris doctor/doctorate (J.D.) degrees.

They may either be elected or appointed to the bench, and typically earn more than $100,000 per year.

2. Defense Attorney

A defense attorney is a lawyer who advocates for clients charged with crimes (called “defendants”).

Defense attorneys need to understand criminal law in the states or jurisdictions where they practice so they can prepare and present defendants’ cases in the court, prepare legal documents and advise defendants.

To be a defense attorney, you will need a law degree (juris doctor/doctorate or J.D.).

The average salary for a defense attorney is approximately $110,000 per year.

3. Prosecutor

The prosecuting attorney is responsible for arguing that defendants in criminal hearings and trials actually committed the crimes of which they’re accused.

A prosecutor represents the state or jurisdiction that charged the defendant and seeks to prove the defendant’s guilt.

As is the case with judges and defense attorneys, prosecutors need juris doctor/doctorate degrees.

On average, prosecutors earn approximately $110,000 per year.

4. Court Reporter

It is important to have transcripts of legal proceedings. That’s where court reporters play an important role.

The court reporter is responsible for using specialized equipment to create a legal transcription of proceedings, documenting everything that’s said.

Court reporters generally need at least an associate degree and professional certification and can expect to earn an average salary of more than $51,000 per year.

5. Paralegal

Paralegals are not attorneys themselves but work closely with them. Paralegals conduct legal research, looking for legal precedents that attorneys can use in their arguments and motions to strengthen their cases.

To be a paralegal, you should have completed an associate degree. There are also specialized paralegal educational programs that may help you break into this career.

On average, paralegals earn approximately $50,000 per year.

6. Court Clerk

Court clerks are responsible for the administrative side of courtroom proceedings. Clerks often prepare and issue court orders and manage the court’s calendar and docket.

If you want to be a court clerk, you will generally need to have earned professional certifications and at least an associate degree.

The average salary for a court clerk is approximately $33,000 per year.

7. Court Interpreter

When a defendant in a legal proceeding in the U.S. doesn’t speak English well enough to understand the proceedings, a court interpreter serves as a translator, so the defendant can participate.

Court interpreters typically need bachelor’s degrees and professional certifications. They also must be able to demonstrate fluency and proficiency in the language(s) they interpret.

On average, court interpreters earn approximately $40,000 per year.

8. Bailiff

The bailiff is charged with keeping order in the courtroom, removing unruly people when ordered to do so by the judge.

Bailiffs also seek to keep juries safe from outside contact during trials, so their decisions are not tainted.

To be a bailiff, you will likely need professional certifications and an associate degree.

The average annual salary for bailiffs is more than $42,000.

9. Corrections Officer

In criminal legal matters, corrections officers escort defendants to and from the courtroom and monitor their behavior while they’re in holding cells.

Corrections officers have generally completed associate degrees and professional certifications, earning an average annual salary of more than $42,000.


As you can see, courtroom jobs consist of more than just judges and lawyers. These roles are all responsible for helping our justice system function well.

Written By
Ali Rizvi, Chief Executive Officer of Litigation Services, has over 25 years of executive management experience in sales, information technology, service and process improvement.