Clerk of Courts
A smooth-running court system is important in any city. Without the support staff they need to run efficiently, courts can get backlogged with cases, consistently run behind schedule, and delay justice for those who deserve it. If you're interested in supporting lawyers, judges, bailiffs, and other criminal justice personnel, consider becoming a court clerk. Use our criminal justice program listings to learn more about opportunities to work towards this career, or others in the field!
Court Clerk Job Description
Court clerks carry out many of the crucial and time-consuming duties that are legally required in a courtroom, saving the judges valuable time when it comes to trying and ruling on cases. As a court clerk, you may attend court, take notes on cases, help swear in witnesses and defendants, and document the appropriate paperwork after court has been completed. You may also carry out various assorted tasks and duties that are asked of you by overseeing judges and criminal justice personnel. Many of the tasks carried out by court clerks are of high importance in the courtroom, so you must have adequate training and education to work independently in a legal setting.
How to Become a Court Clerk
Court clerks are typically hired by municipal courts and other justice agencies, although they may also be hired by law firms. As a result, hiring requirements vary from place to place. If you're considering becoming a court clerk, you may want to become familiar with hiring requirements in your area before you pursue a degree.
Education Requirements for Becoming a Court Clerk
Some places prefer to hire court clerks with a degree in legal assisting. This degree comes in several different lengths and degree formats. Some certificate programs can be completed in less than one year, so you can attend courses for one or two semesters to get an overview of the legal system and your role in it. You may also wish to earn an associate degree in legal assisting. This degree takes approximately two years of full-time study. You may also get the training you need from a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. In some cases, you do not need any higher education in criminal justice or the legal system; work experience or on-the-job training may suffice.
You may take several different courses while studying legal assisting. After taking a brief look at law and the legal system, you may take courses like Legal Analysis, Legal Research, Civil Procedure, Law Practice Management, Computerized Legal Research, and Evidence.
Many legal employers have experience requirements for court clerks. You may need to have prior work experience in the legal system, whether as a court clerk or in another position. Furthermore, you need excellent clerical skills. Quite a few court systems require you to meet or exceed a certain typing speed.
If you're looking for an entry-level job that does not require previous criminal justice experience, you may look for a job with looser work requirements. In some cases, work experience in an office or clerical setting may be enough for you to get started as a court clerk.
Court Clerk Salary and Career Outlook
If you start a career as a court clerk, you may be rewarded with a fairly solid job outlook. Between 2016-2026, O*Net anticipates a 5-9% increase in court clerk jobs across the country. States with the highest employment for court clerks include Texas, California, Ohio, New York, and Florida.
Salaries for court clerks vary widely across the United States. Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a court clerk is $37,300 per year or $17.93 per hour. In New York, court clerks earn an average of $55,870, which is over $17,000 more than the national average (BLS, 2017). For clerks in Montana, on the other hand, their salaries top out at $33,690 (BLS, 2017).
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