How to Become a Court Clerk: Career Guide


Updated March 27, 2024 · 3 Min Read

What is a court clerk? How do you pursue this role? Explore answers to these questions, along with information about salaries, job growth, and more. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Every courtroom in the United States has a clerk who plays an integral role in justice proceedings. Clerks work alongside judges, acting as courtroom management executives. They oversee all the administrative aspects of courtroom operations and ensure the court's proper functioning.

Court clerking is one of the justice system's more accessible careers, but you will need specialized training to pursue the role. This career guide explains the process and provides data and information about certification, salaries, job growth, and more.

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What Is a Court Clerk?

Court clerks are judicial officials who help manage and administer legal proceedings in courtrooms. Their duties primarily revolve around maintaining order, ensuring participants follow proper procedures, and documenting events. Clerks also manage money paid to the court through fines or restitution, ensuring the funds reach their proper destination.

Given their duties, a clerk is sometimes described as being a court's chief information and financial officer.

Where Do Court Clerks Work?

Clerks primarily work in courtrooms. They manage administrative and procedural tasks in municipal, state, federal, and specialized courts. Their duties may also carry over to office settings as required by information or documentation processing needs.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) includes court clerks in its entry for court, municipal, and license clerks. According to BLS data from May 2022, nearly 75% of these professionals work for local governments.

What Do Court Clerks Do?

  • Announce the beginning of court sessions and call parties to order
  • Recite charges and record defendants' pleas
  • Swear in parties who testify before the court
  • Prepare case files and court documents
  • Care for evidence and exhibits presented to the court
  • Maintain records of court proceedings
  • Manage the jury selection process
  • Create, update, and file paper and electronic court documents
  • Provide support services to judges, attorneys, and witnesses
  • Route court fees, fines, and other monies submitted to the court to their proper destinations
  • Send summonses, notices, and other official documents on behalf of the court

How to Become a Court Clerk


The minimum education required for a court clerk position varies by court. Some courts require only a high school diploma for entry-level positions. Others may require or prefer court clerks to hold an associate or bachelor's degree in criminal justice, business management, paralegal studies, or other similar fields. Federal courts typically require law degrees or master's degrees.

Coursework to prepare for this career typically covers the criminal justice system, court processes, business administration, and archival systems.

Skills and Experience

Prospective court clerks should have excellent accounting, budgeting, business management, bookkeeping, and word processing skills. Job candidates with experience in human resources, law, benefits management, and financial compliance may have an advantage.

Internships as court clerks can help people gain on-the-job experience, which can provide a competitive advantage when applying for available positions.

Steps to Becoming a Court Clerk

  1. Apply for an open court clerk position.
  2. Pass a background check.
  3. Participate in interviews.
  4. Receive and accept a job offer.
  5. Complete on-the-job training.

Court Clerk Job Training

Whether court clerks start with internships or formal degrees, they can receive on-the-job training after becoming hired as deputy clerks. As deputy clerks, workers learn various essential administrative duties.

As you gain experience, you may receive more responsibility and higher pay. These promotions include positions such as court clerk and chief court clerk, with enough experience.

While it is possible to gain enough experience working as a court clerk to move into a higher pay range, those with degrees in public administration, business administration, or criminal justice are usually promoted more quickly than professionals without degrees.

Certification for Court Clerks

Court clerks at various stages of their careers can obtain professional certifications. For instance, the International Institute of Municipal Clerks offers certified municipal clerk and master municipal clerk programs. Both designations function as professional development programs and require previous clerk experience.

Other national organizations offering certification programs include the National Association for Court Management and the National Center for State Courts.

State-level organizations also offer certification programs in jurisdictions throughout the United States. These programs typically involve additional classroom-based training, which some organizations offer in cooperation with local higher education institutions.

Other Professional Resources

Court Clerk Salary and Job Outlook

As of March 2024, Payscale reports the average U.S. court clerk salary at $18.13 per hour or about $46,500 per year. BLS data from May 2022 placed the mean annual wage of court, municipal, and license clerks at $46,280 per year.

Pay rates vary by locality, sometimes significantly. In May 2022, average annual salaries in the five highest-paying metro areas ranged from $59,960-$67,050 per year, according to the BLS.

O*NET Online, a career information resource affiliated with the U.S. Department of Labor, projects job growth of 2-4% for court clerks from 2022-2032.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Court Clerk Jobs

Is being a court clerk a stressful job?

Under normal circumstances, court clerks face relatively little pressure when carrying out their duties. However O*NET Online includes "stress tolerance" among the 16 working style characteristics associated with the role. Stressful and difficult situations can occur, and clerks must be physically, psychologically, and emotionally equipped to deal with them.

What is the difference between a court clerk and a law clerk?

Court clerks are courtroom-based executive officials who manage administrative tasks on behalf of judges, while law clerks are trained attorneys who help federal and appellate judges draft opinions and perform research. Compared to law clerking, becoming a court clerk requires far less training and technical knowledge.

What are the typical hours expected for a court clerk?

Court clerks typically work around 40 hours a week during court hours. Most courts are open between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Clerks might also work after hours to complete administrative tasks they did not complete during court hours.

Where do court clerks make the most money?

According to BLS data from May 2022, the highest-paying metro areas in the United States for court clerks are San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, and New York City. Among states, court clerks earn the most in New York, Washington, California, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

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