Bailiff Job Description: What You'll Do

Here's What You'll Do in a Career in Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice

The law enforcement and criminal justice fields offer many exciting career paths, including work as a bailiff. These individuals play pivotal roles in courtrooms, working to ensure security and order during trials. This guide is designed to provide information for those interested in a career as a bailiff. Keep reading to learn about job responsibilities, education requirements, average salaries, and employment opportunities.

What Are the Duties and Responsibilities of a Bailiff?

A bailiff's duties depend on what is taking place in the courtroom, and the discretion of the presiding judge. Still, there are several common and recurring responsibilities a bailiff holds in their typical workday.

Bailiffs announce the arrival of the judge and ask all present to rise.

Bailiffs announce the arrival of the judge and ask all present to rise. They also administer oaths to witnesses and jurors. In cases involving an imprisoned person, the bailiff brings the defendant in and out of the courtroom. During trial, a bailiff may transport documents between the defendant, plaintiff and judge, ensure all participants observe courtroom decorum, and provide the judge with all the supplies and paperwork needed to render a verdict. Bailiffs also oversee the jury, escorting them in and out of the courtroom, and guarding the deliberation room during times of sequestration.

Bailiff Education Requirements

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most states require bailiffs to hold a high school diploma or GED at minimum. That being said, the criminal justice and law enforcement fields continue to formalize educational requirements, so having a college degree can help you stand out from other candidates.

Two- and four-year degrees exist in law enforcement and criminal justice, giving learners ample educational options. Prospective degree seekers looking to learn more about criminal justice degrees can review this comprehensive resource page on the subject.

Aspiring bailiffs can follow either path to qualify for a courtroom position, but should consider which better aligns with their future professional goals.

As students consider their educational options, they should keep in mind the subtle differences between law enforcement and criminal justice degrees. Broadly, law enforcement focuses on enforcing actual laws in place rather than the larger system that determines those laws. Conversely criminal justice concerns itself with systems and frameworks, leading to a more macro approach. Aspiring bailiffs can follow either path to qualify for a courtroom position, but should consider which better aligns with their future professional goals.

Before committing to any program, prospective learners should review the educational requirements for their state to ensure they meet minimum requirements.

Associate Degrees

Law enforcement and criminal justice programs at the associate level provide students with the foundational knowledge needed for entry-level positions. In addition to general education topics, learners cover industry-specific subjects such as ethics in criminal justice, police studies, crime scene investigation basics, and criminal procedures.

These programs typically require approximately 60 credits and take two years of full-time study to complete. The price of degrees can vary dramatically depending on whether a student enrolls in a community college or a four-year institution, and whether it exists as a public or private school. CollegeBoard states that average annual costs during the 2018-2019 academic year were $3,660 for in-district residents and $10,230 for out-of-district at public schools. Potential degree seekers looking to learn more can check out our Associate Degree in Criminal Justice page for more information.

Bachelor's Degrees

While an associate degree in criminal justice or law enforcement provides students with a basic understanding of the discipline, bachelor's degrees introduce more nuanced subjects. Typically twice as long as an associate degree, baccalaureate programs explore more topics in greater depth. Students also participate in additional general education classes. If you want to delve further into program outcomes, available jobs, and average salaries for this level of education, check out our guide to getting a bachelor's in criminal justice.

Other Requirements for Bailiffs

While educational requirements play a significant role for bailiffs, applicants to these positions may need to meet certain non-academic requirements to be competitive in the job market. These requirements vary by state, but often look similar. Many states look for candidates with various types of training and certifications. Examples include self-defense training, firearms training, threat neutralization training, and/or cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification. Check with your state and read a few job postings to get a sense of exact requirements.

Qualities That Make a Great Bailiff

Thriving in the job of bailiff requires a certain personality and skill set. Courtrooms can often be filled with tension and uncertainty, and the best bailiffs possess the skills needed to respond to these situations. The top five qualities a bailiff should have include:

  • Calm Demeanor
  • Quick Thinking
  • Effective Communication
  • Stamina
  • Physical Strength

Salary and Employment Opportunities for Bailiffs

Highest-Paying States for Bailiffs
State Mean Annual Salary Employment
New York $66,990 4,010
California $64,010 150
Colorado $57,900 No Data
Illinois $57,220 1,550
Georgia $57,050 930
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2018
Highest-Paying Metropolitan Areas for Bailiffs
Metropolitan Area Mean Annual Salary Employment
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA $72,220 2,830
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI $61,060 1,300
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD $37,460 480
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA No Data 400
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI $44,110 350
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2018

Want to Learn More?

Bailiff Salary Information Careers in Criminal Justice Online Bachelor's Degree in Law Enforcement