If you have an interest in criminal justice, you may be dreaming of an exciting career in a courthouse. Who could blame you? For the past several decades, pop culture has had a fascination with courtroom drama. Comedies centered around the court (like “My Cousin Vinny”) had us rolling on the floor laughing. Primetime series like “Law & Order” kept us tuning in week after week for years. Even real life cases like the OJ Simpson trial and recent docu-series like “Making a Murderer” captured the attention of Americans all over the country. Let’s face it: We just love a good courtroom storyline. Having a work life that makes these dramas a reality – while upholding the law and pursuing justice for the innocent – seems like the perfect job.
The American criminal justice system is one of the most complex and misunderstood aspects of the government. It is important that we have good people working in these positions to fight the good fight.
You may be thinking, “Yeah, sure, that sounds great, but I can’t spend years in school to become a lawyer.” Don’t worry – there are plenty of other courthouse jobs to fill. But what are they? Let’s break down some of the other important courthouse careers you can pursue in two years or less.
Bailiffs are law enforcement officers who maintain order and safety within the courtroom. While their day-to-day duties may vary, they typically enforce courtroom laws, assist judges, guard juries, handle evidence, deliver official court documents, and oversee general safety for all in the courtroom.
The median wage for bailiffs was $45,760 in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Qualifications for bailiffs will vary by employer, but those with an associate degree in criminal justice will be preferred for positions.
- Court Reporter
Do you hang onto every word during a tense scene of “How to Get Away With Murder?” Are you quick at the keyboard? You may be meant for a role as a court reporter. Court reporters create word-for-word transcriptions at trials, depositions, and other legal proceedings. Most court reporters work from the courtroom or legislature offices. But there are some work-from-home options for this position. Some court reporters provide broadcast captioning for TV stations, for the hard-of-hearing audience.
The BLS states that the median annual pay for court reporters is $57,150. Most court reporters earn their postsecondary degree or certification and a few weeks of on-the-job training. Many states require court reporters to have a state license or a certification from a professional association before starting this position.
- Court Clerk
Just as the name implies, court clerks perform clerical duties for courts of law. They often prepare documents for the cases that are to be called into court, secure important information for judges, and keep official records as needed. If you are an organized, driven individual who wants an official role within the court, the role of court clerk may be your calling.
Paralegals and legal assistants are found in all types of organizations, but most can be found in law firms, corporate legal departments, and government agencies. They perform a variety of tasks to assist lawyers – such as organize documents for trials, and conduct research for any given case.
Fun Fact: Before becoming a musician, Jennifer Lopez was a paralegal.
Most paralegals have at least an associate degree or certification in paralegal studies or a related field. Sometimes, employers prefer to hire those with a bachelor’s degree, but no legal experience is required to land the job. According to the BLS, paralegals earn a median salary of $50,940 per year.
- Correctional Officer
Correctional officers are responsible for watching over those who have been arrested and are either awaiting trial or who have been sentenced to serve time in jail or prison. This type of role can be stressful and even dangerous. Officers also work on a variety of shifts – days, nights, weekends, and holidays – since prisoners need to be guarded 24/7. Learn how to become a correctional officer in Connecticut here!
So there you have it – 5 exciting courthouse jobs that don’t require a law degree! How do you land one of these roles? A career-focused school, such as Goodwin College, can help you get there. Our Criminal Justice associate degree program will prepare you for a role in the courtroom while you maintain your daily work and family obligations. Classes are offered days and nights to accommodate your busy schedule. Courses are taught by police officers, detectives, attorneys, and other experts. Their real-life experience can give you insight into your future career that you simply cannot find in any textbook.
If you would like to learn more about the Criminal Justice program at Goodwin College, call 1-800-889-3282, or visit us online to request more information.
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.