Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

What is this job like?

Judges are in charge of trials. They make sure that trials are fair. They resolve differences between lawyers. They read the law to decide what lawyers can and can't do.

Judges often decide whether a case should go to trial. They also tell juries about the law.

To make their decisions, judges research legal issues. Judges also write about their decisions and legal opinions. Sometimes, they ask lawyers or law clerks to help with research.

If a person is convicted of a crime, judges decide if they will go to prison and for how long. In civil cases, which involve money but no crime, judges often decide how much money one person must pay another.

Judges' duties vary. Some judges deal with cases involving serious crimes, like stealing and murder. Other judges decide cases about traffic rules, families, and small amounts of money. Some oversee cases about Social Security benefits, the environment, and many other issues.

Judges need to know the law very well. Good judgment and patience are important.

Judges do most of their work in offices, law libraries, and courtrooms. Most judges wear robes when they are in a courtroom. Judges often work a 40-hour week. But many work more than 50 hours a week.

How do you get ready?

A college degree and work experience is the minimum requirement to be a judge. Most judges have worked as lawyers. In fact, Federal and State judges usually must have worked as lawyers. That means that they need to go to law school. Law school usually takes 3 years after college.

All States have some type of training for new judges. Judges take short classes about the law throughout their careers.

To get ready for this job, students can take English classes to learn how to write, do research, and make presentations. Social studies classes teach about research and the law. Students who want to be judges also need strong reading skills.

Source: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

See also: Selected Jurists.

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