Those who are courteous and accommodating with strong attention to detail, good interpersonal skills and a sound knowledge of courtroom procedures will have a leg up on the competition when it comes to the career of bailiff. This is a crucial job in the law enforcement field; students interested in the position would do well to earn a degree in criminal justice.
As an officer of the courtroom, a bailiff’s job is very important. Bailiffs provide security for judges, plaintiffs, defendants and juries, but especially judges. Bailiffs must enforce all courtroom policies, keep disturbances to a minimum and execute the orders of the judge.
Bailiffs prevent jurors from having contact with the public, going as far as to escort them from courtroom to hotel or home. 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 emergency medical services
The job prospects for bailiffs are favorable. The need to replace bailiffs who move on to different occupations or retire is expected to generate openings.
Depending upon work performance, there are promising advancement opportunities too. For example, successful bailiffs who work for a bailiff firm may find it possible to be promoted to senior bailiff, assistant manager and then manager. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects this occupation to grow 5 percent by 2024.
The salary of a bailiff varies based on location, number of years of experience and other factors. That said, the BLS estimates that the median annual salary for bailiffs is $41,670.
Bailiffs spend the majority of their time inside the courtroom; however, some of their time is spent escorting and guarding jurors or transferring documents.
Most bailiff positions require only a high school education or GED; however, candidates who hold an associate or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice will find employment prospects vastly improved. Coursework in criminal justice provides a sound foundation for a potential bailiff, as does experience in the courtroom and/or in law enforcement.
Qualifications may include CPR certification or first aid training. Most courts also require bailiffs to undergo firearm training and learn to use chemicals like pepper spray. Some jurisdictions require bailiffs to be at least 21, 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.