Bailiff: Career Guide
Bailiffs are law enforcement officers who are responsible for maintaining order in a courtroom during trials. While their duties do vary from a police officer, bailiffs also play an important role in the justice system.
Career Description, Duties, and Common Tasks
The bailiff works with all players in a court of law: the jury, the judge, the public, and the defendants. Bailiffs are generally employed by local, state, and federal courts. The bailiff's duties include:
- Announcing the judge's entrance into court
- Assisting, in some instances, with transporting the defendants to and from court
- Delivering documents in the court
- Enforcing courtroom decorum and the judge's directions
- Ensuring the judge has all the supplies he or she needs
- Escorting the jury out of the courtroom to ensure they do not have contact with anyone outside of the court
- Guarding the jury, in the courtroom and during sequestration
- Helping the judge as necessary
- Interacting with defendants
Steps for Becoming a Bailiff
A high school diploma or GED is usually adequate for pursuing a career as a bailiff. Some employers may give preference to those applicants with a two- or four-year degree in criminal justice, law enforcement, criminology, or a related field. Although some courts may require a bailiff to have special training in a certain area, such as paralegal skills, most gain the training they need on the job.
- Apply to become a bailiff through your local government website.
- Take and pass the Civil Service Exam.
- Undergo a background investigation.
- Be interviewed.
- Get hired as a bailiff.
- Receive bailiff training on the job.
Bailiff Job Training
Once hired on as a bailiff of the court, you will undergo additional training on the job. In the beginning, new bailiffs may work with more experienced ones while they acquire the skills and knowledge they need to maintain the courtroom.
Other Helpful Skills and Experience
Prospective bailiffs should feel comfortable communicating with a diverse group of people and should be prepared to use physical force when necessary. Law enforcement, military experience, or experience within the criminal justice and court systems may be advantageous when applying for a position as a bailiff. A bailiff must command respect as an authority figure, be able to communicate effectively with others, and have a working knowledge of the court system and how it works. Bailiffs must be physically fit as the hours are often long and spent in a standing position. Those bailiffs with experience and relevant education such as a bachelor's degree in criminal justice may find advancement opportunities in supervisory or management positions.
Possible Job Titles for This Career
- Court Officer
- Court Security Officer
- Sheriff's Deputy
Bailiff Salary and Job Outlook
The salary of a bailiff, similar to that of most jobs, increases with years of experience and varies depending on factors such as location. The average annual salary for bailiffs in the United States is $45,760 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).1 In addition, bailiffs receive a typical benefits package, including life and health insurance, paid sick leave, and vacation time. Bailiffs are projected to see a 7% decline in jobs from 2016 to 2026, which means most jobs available during this time will open up as current bailiffs leave the field or retire.2
If you are interested in a career as a bailiff, you may also be interested in learning more about the related careers below.
- Correctional Case Manager
- Corrections Officer
- Court Clerk
- Parole Officer
- Police Officer
- Prison Guard
- Prison Warden
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: What states have the highest salaries for bailiffs?
Answer: The states that have the highest average salaries for bailiffs, according to the BLS, include Colorado, New York, California, Illinois, and Georgia.1 Annual salaries for bailiffs in these states range from $57,050 to $66,990.1
Question: Which states employ the highest number bailiffs?
Answer: The BLS reports that governments in New York, Florida, Illinois, Ohio, and Georgia hire the most bailiffs compared to other states.1
Question: What type of schedule do bailiffs generally work?
Answer: Bailiffs typically work the traditional 40-hour work week, although overtime and nights and/or weekends may be required.
- National Sheriffs' Association: A national organization that provides information and educational opportunities to sheriffs, sheriffs deputies, law enforcement, bailiffs, and the general public.
- United States Court Security Officers: A national union for professionals working in court security, including bailiffs.
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2018 Occupational Employment and Wages, Bailiffs: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes333011.htm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Correctional Officers and Bailiffs: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/Protective-Service/Correctional-officers.htm