Career ProfileBailiff

What They Do

Students interested in a career in law enforcement and are seeking a career working in a courtroom may consider becoming a bailiff. Those who are courteous and accommodating with strong attention to detail, good interpersonal skills and a sound knowledge of courtroom procedures have a leg up on the competition in this field.

A bailiff is an officer of the courtroom, and the role is an important one. He or she provides security for all parties – judges, plaintiffs, defendants and juries. It is the job of a bailiff to impose all courtroom policies, keep disturbances to a minimum and to execute the orders of the judge. For example, if a judge decides someone needs to be removed from the courtroom, the bailiff must escort that person out, and even restrain them if needed.

Bailiffs prevent the jury from having contact with the public, going as far as to escort them from site to site. Other job responsibilities include:

• Opening and closing court by announcing the judge’s arrival and departure
• Securely handling evidence
• Swearing in witnesses
• Organizing files and paperwork for the judge
• Sweeping the courtroom for bombs and weapons
• Guarding jurors sequestered overnight in hotels
• Providing security or medical emergency services

Expectations: Salary and Career Outlook

While the salary of a bailiff will vary based on location, number of years of experience and other factors, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that the median annual salary for bailiffs in 2014 was $38,150. The number of job prospects for bailiffs are favorable – the need to replenish bailiffs that move on to different occupations or retire is expected to generate openings in this field.

Depending upon work performance, there are promising advancement opportunities, too. For example, successful bailiffs that work for a bailiff firm may find it possible to be promoted to senior bailiff, assistant manager and then manager.

Workplace Environment

It’s true that a bailiff will spend the majority of his or her working hours inside the courtroom; however, some of their time will be spent escorting and guarding jurors or transferring documents. Some bailiffs may choose to work in prisons or jails, but it goes without saying that the environment in prisons and jails is much more challenging. Most bailiffs would agree that working in a judicial setting with the general public is much highly preferable over working within a jail.

Education, Special Skills and Other Qualifications

While many bailiff positions only require a high school education, candidates who possess a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice or a Master or Arts in Criminal Justice Leadership will find their employment opportunities vastly improved. Coursework in criminal justice, law enforcement and civil rights will provide a sound foundation for a potential bailiff, as well as experience in the courtroom and/or law enforcement.

Qualifications may include CPR certification or first aid training. Some courts even require bailiffs to undergo firearm training and learn to use chemicals like pepper spray.

Some places of employment have age requirements for new bailiffs (21 years of age or older is a common requirement), and all require a valid driver’s license. It’s also typical for a candidate to be required to undergo (and pass) a background check, meaning he or she must have a clean criminal record.