Becoming a Court Clerk: Careers, Salary Info & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of a court clerk career? Get real job descriptions, career outlook and salary info to see if becoming a court clerk is right for you.
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A Court Clerk Career: Pros and Cons

Court clerks provide administrative and legal assistance to courts of law. Consider the following pros and cons to determine if a court clerk career is right for you.

Pros of a Court Clerk Career
Education requirements are minimal (many positions require only a high school diploma)*
Opportunities to advance in the field**
Sense of responsibility (ensure court operations run smoothly)**
Non-competitive job environment**

Cons of a Court Clerk Career
Average salary is low ($37,340 in May 2014)*
Daily tasks may be repetitive*
High stress situations possible**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*Net.

Essential Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Court proceedings are complex and require a great deal of organization. As a court clerk, you'll serve as the official record keeper of the court. Duties include helping judges organize their docket and keeping lawyers and witnesses informed of their court appearances. Court clerks obtain, file and maintain legal documents, such as petitions, briefs and records.

Additional duties can vary based on your experience and employment level. Court clerks may be classified using levels I, II or III. High-level clerks manage more complex tasks than those handled by a clerk classified as level I. In a more advanced position, you may verify documents, manage bookkeeping, oversee staff or prepare memoranda. Level I clerks generally handle strictly administrative duties.

Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in May 2014, the median yearly salary for court clerks was $37,340. Most employees in this field earned from roughly $24,000-$53,000. The states with the highest level of employment were Texas, New York, California and Michigan. Additionally, the industries with the highest levels of employment were local government, state government and support services.

What Are the Requirements?

Education and Training

Most employers require only a high school diploma. However, some jurisdictions may prefer candidates with some level of post-secondary education. In nearly all cases, certain skills are required. Court clerks must be organized and able to handle a large volume of materials. To be successful in this position, you'll need strong communications skills, computer proficiency and a high level of discretion, since you may be dealing with sensitive legal matters. You'll also need training in the policies and procedures used in court systems.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Employers typically seek court clerks that have met specific experience requirements. Some positions may require you to meet specific educational requirements. While not all encompassing, the job postings below provide a snapshot of what employers sought in a court clerk during March 2012:

  • In Florida, a level II position is open for candidates with a high school diploma and 3+ years of experience in a clerical position. Applicants must also pass a written test. Listed job duties include processing records, tracking court minutes and typing documents.
  • The high court of San Francisco, CA, seeks a clerk to manage staff, oversee all administrative tasks and assist with the budget. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree or higher and 6+ years of experience.
  • In Florida, a Native American tribe is filling a court clerk position. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree or higher and experience with tribal law. Candidates with a Juris Doctorate or previous law experience are preferred.
  • A South Carolina court is looking for a clerk to serve three judges. Applicants must have at least 10 years of experience. Education up to and including a master's degree may be substituted for experience.

How Can I Stand Out?

Continuing Education

Since post-secondary education is not a general requirement of the job, it's likely that you'll be able to compete for higher-level positions if you earn a degree, such as an associate or bachelor's degree. Coursework in political science, business administration and public policy suit the job. In some cases, education can replace work experience.

Develop Related Skills

Since court clerks often manage the court budget, you can also stand out by having bookkeeping experience. This can be gained by working in other administrative or clerical positions or through formal education. Additionally, you may want to develop skills and knowledge in:

  • Filing
  • Legal terminology
  • Information retrieval
  • Accounting
  • State specific laws

Other Fields to Consider

Paralegal

If you enjoy working around and within law systems, you may want to consider working as a paralegal within law offices. As a paralegal, you typically complete an associate degree in paralegal studies. You may also earn certification; however, it's not a requirement. Paralegals are expected to experience a fast as average growth of 18% from 2010-2020 and average wages of $50,000 as of May 2011, stated the BLS.

Human Resources Specialist

A career in human resources is another option for candidates interested in information management and communication. With an average annual salary of around $59,000 as of May 2011 and a projected growth rate of 21% from 2010-2020, the potential for success in this field is high, stated the BLS. Duties may include interviewing and hiring employees, keeping employee records and handling employee relations. Most positions in this field require a bachelor's degree.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master: Criminal Justice
      • Master: Legal Studies
    Bachelor's
      • Undergraduate in Legal Studies
      • BS in Legal Support and Services
      • BS in Legal Support and Services - Paralegal
      • Bachelor: Criminal Justice
    Associate's
      • AAS in Legal Support and Services
      • Associate: Criminal Justice
    Certificate
      • Postbaccalaureate Certificate - Pathway to Paralegal
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.A. - Legal Studies
      • B.A. - Criminal Justice
    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts - Criminal Justice
      • Associate of Arts - Paralegal
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Baker College Online

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Criminal Justice - Bachelor
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Saint Joseph's University

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    Master's
      • MS in Criminal Justice Intelligence & Crime Analysis
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Penn Foster Career School

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    Certificate
      • Career Diploma - Virtual Assistant
      • Career Diploma: Legal Secretary
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    6. Argosy University

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    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor - Business Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Grand Canyon University

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    Master's
      • MS in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies
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    8. Northcentral University

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    Master's
      • MS - Organizational Leadership: Criminal Justice
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    9. Penn Foster High School

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    10. Lewis University

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Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • Master: Criminal Justice
  • Undergraduate in Legal Studies
  • AAS in Legal Support and Services
  • Postbaccalaureate Certificate - Pathway to Paralegal

Which subject are you interested in?

Keiser University

  • B.A. - Legal Studies
  • B.A. - Criminal Justice
  • Associate of Arts - Criminal Justice
  • Associate of Arts - Paralegal

What is your highest level of education?

Baker College Online

  • Criminal Justice - Bachelor

What is your highest level of education?

Saint Joseph's University

  • MS in Criminal Justice Intelligence & Crime Analysis

What is your highest level of education completed?

Penn Foster Career School

  • Career Diploma - Virtual Assistant
  • Career Diploma: Legal Secretary

What is your highest level of education?

Argosy University

  • Bachelor - Business Administration

What is your highest level of education completed?

Grand Canyon University

  • MS in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies

What is your highest level of education?

Northcentral University

  • MS - Organizational Leadership: Criminal Justice

What is your highest level of education?