Bailiffs are law enforcement officers who play an important role in the courtroom. They are primarily responsible for maintaining order and security in the courtroom and assisting the judge in the orderly conduct of a trial.
Bailiffs work with a variety of court personnel, government workers, and lawyers. Although their primary role is to maintain order and provide security, many of their day-to-day duties are administrative in nature.
Bailiff Duties & Responsibilities
A bailiff’s job responsibilities may include some or all of the following, which are separated into three groups:
- General Duties
- Serve eviction orders, civil lawsuits, garnishments, and asset seizures
- Transport prisoners to and from the courtroom
- Copy and post daily case schedules
- Maintain courtroom supplies
- Prepare bond forms
- Pre-Trial Duties
- Perform metal and x-ray detection of individuals and materials before entering the courtroom
- Unlock/lock courtrooms and jury rooms and ensure that they are neat and orderly
- Polish and fill water pitchers for court and jury rooms
- Maintain supplies of paper, pencils, water, and other materials for use during court
- Sign in all persons appearing in court and ensure each is on the docket
- Trial/Courtroom Duties
- Open court and inform the judge that court is ready
- Take custody of jurors, assist jurors in finding seats, and distribute jury questionnaires
- Call witnesses and administer oaths to witnesses and jurors
- Relay messages from jurors to court and families
- Advise court personnel and attorneys when verdicts are reached
- Escort defendants to and from the courtroom
- Collect evidence from juries
- Operate courtroom equipment
- Prevent smoking, noise, or other distractions in the courtroom during trial
- Close court
- Take custody of defendants in the courtroom and transport them to the correctional facility
A bailiff's salary is based on education, expertise, and experience:
- Median Annual Salary: $42,960 ($20.65/hour)
- Top 10% Annual Salary: $74,060 ($35.61/hour)
- Bottom 10% Annual Salary: $29,540 ($14.20/hour)
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017
Education, Training, & Certification
The right amount of education and experience can lead to a career as a bailiff:
- Academia: Education requirements for becoming a bailiff include a high school diploma or general education degree (GED). Supplemental training, either at a two- or four-year college, vocational school or police academy, will improve your employment prospects for a bailiff position.
- Courses: Coursework in a field such as criminal justice, law enforcement, or civil rights provides a good background for a career as a bailiff.
- Training: Bailiffs must complete training at an academy. Training typically lasts several months, but varies by state. The International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training maintains links to states’ Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) programs. Academy trainees receive instruction in a number of subjects, such as self-defense, institutional policies, regulations, operations, and security procedures. Bailiffs may also be required to complete CPR and first aid training.
- Experience: Prior experience as a law enforcement officer or court-related experience is often desired. Certain courts may impose an age minimum, such as 21 years of age, on bailiff positions and may require a valid state driver’s license. Background investigations of bailiff candidates are often conducted prior to hire.
Bailiff Skills & Competencies
To perform their job effectively, bailiffs must have the following skills:
- Verbal and written communication: Ability to read and write simple instructions, short correspondence, and memos
- Interpersonal skills: Ability to effectively present information in one-on-one and small group settings to judges, juries, lawyers, and the public.
- Team player: Ability to work well as a team
- Detail-oriented: Ability to follow and enforce strict procedures in courts to ensure everyone’s safety
- Physical strength: Ability to subdue upset courtroom attendants
Job opportunities for bailiffs are expected to decrease by 2% until 2026. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016, bailiffs held 18,600 jobs, which are expected to drop to 18,200 by 2026. Despite the projected decline in employment, job prospects should still be good due to the need to replace those who retire, transfer to other occupations, or leave the work force.
Bailiffs work for state and local governments in courtrooms and offices.
Bailiffs’ hours are determined by when court is in session.
How to Get the Job
Look at resources such as iHireLawEnforcement, Indeed, and Jobrapido for the latest job postings. These sites may also provide other resources such as tips for writing and updating resumes and cover letters, as well as techniques for landing and succeeding at an interview.
FIND AN INTERNSHIP OR VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY
The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) offers internships and volunteer positions for those interested in getting experience working as a bailiff. This organization also offers other resources such as affiliated associations that may also offer jobs or internships to qualifying members. The Supreme Court of the United States also offers an internship program to students looking to gain experience working in the court system.
Comparing Similar Jobs
People interested in a career as a bailiff may also want to consider these similar jobs, along with the median annual salary:
- Police Officer or Detective: $62,960
- Probation Officer: $51,410
- Security Guard and Gaming Surveillance Officer: $26,960
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017