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Judges hear evidence in criminal and civil courts, make rulings and pass sentences based on the information presented during cases.

Annual Salary

£91,217 to £267,509

Average UK salary in 2022 was £33,200
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

37 to 42 a week

You could work: between 8am and 6pm; at short notice

Future employment

There will be 2.4% more Judge jobs in 2027.

Day to day tasks

You will:

  • prepare for trials by reading papers submitted by legal teams
  • hear civil, family and criminal cases
  • listen to evidence from witnesses, defendants and victims
  • advise juries and legal teams on points of law
  • pass sentences on conviction and impose other penalties
  • reach decisions in tribunals, for example on employment disputes or immigration cases
  • help sides to find agreement in civil cases before proceedings begin
  • take expert opinion, for instance in custody or child welfare cases
  • hear appeals and review decisions of lower courts
  • write reports, giving reasons for rulings
  • keep up to date with legal developments

Working environment

You could work in a court or in an office.

Your working environment may be emotionally demanding and you'll travel often.

You can get into this job through an official appointment.

Volunteering and work experience

You can get valuable experience and insights into the work of a judge through the Judicial Work Shadowing Scheme. This may help if you later apply for selection to become a judge.

You normally have to be a qualified legal professional, with at least 7 years' experience in law-related work to join.

If you have been on the Judicial Work Shadowing Scheme, you can apply for a place on the Judicial Mentoring Scheme. This scheme is open to applications from people who are currently under-represented in the judiciary. For example:

  • women
  • ethnic minorities
  • lawyers with a state school education

Other routes

Judges are appointed by the Judicial Appointments Commission. You’ll need to apply to them to be considered for selection.

To apply, you must:

  • be a qualified solicitor, barrister or chartered legal executive
  • have worked as a legal professional for between 5 and 7 years, depending on the type of judge you want to be
  • meet nationality requirements

Common starting roles include district, recorder and tribunal judges. For certain other judicial roles, you can apply if you’re an experienced legal academic, or trademark or patent attorney.

You must successfully complete several application stages to get through to shortlisting by the Commission. You’ll then be invited to attend an assessment and selection day, which will include interviews.

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

More information

Career tips

If you're appointed as a full-time judge, you cannot return to legal practice.

Part-time judges, usually found in the lower courts, for example a tribunal or district judge, are paid a fee for each court session and are expected to sit for at least 15 sessions a year. Fee-paid judges can continue to practise law, providing there is no conflict of interest.

Further information

You can find out more about how to become a judge from:Courts and Tribunals Judiciary; Judicial Appointments Commission; The Law Society

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There are structured career development routes in the judiciary, which allow you to move from fee-paid sessional roles in the lower courts through to paid positions in the upper courts.

For example, with experience, you might move from deputy district judge or recorder to become a permanent district judge, circuit judge or high court judge. Beyond that, you could be appointed to the court of appeal.

You can also specialise in particular divisions of the judiciary, like the family courts or employment tribunals.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • legal knowledge including court procedures and government regulations
  • active listening skills
  • the ability to think clearly using logic and reasoning
  • knowledge of English language
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to use your judgement and make decisions
  • leadership skills
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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