Be a Bailiff: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn the various steps for becoming a bailiff. Research the education requirements, training and experience you will need to start a career as a bailiff.

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Do I Want to Be a Bailiff?

Bailiffs are law enforcement officers responsible for the security of courts and court personnel. The duties of bailiffs may vary depending on their assignments. Bailiffs are responsible for preventing contraband from being brought into the courthouse and may use scanning devices such as magnetometers, hand-held wands, x-ray machines and chemical detection devices to screen persons and their belongings upon entering. Others conduct legal research and schedule court cases. Bailiffs who work in the courtroom call the room to order; announce the judge's arrival; protect the judge, parties and jury; escort prisoners and generally maintain the security and decorum of court proceedings. A certain amount of stress may occur on the job, especially during high profile court proceedings.

Job Requirements

Bailiffs are generally required to have a high school diploma or equivalent and must have completed Police (or Peace) Officer Standards Training (P.O.S.T.), which may include a state exam and formal certification. In some jurisdictions, a judge's bailiff will also perform some of the duties of the judge's clerk as assigned, which means the bailiff must hold a Juris Doctor degree from a law school.

The following table describes the general requirements to become a bailiff:

Common Requirements
Degree Level High school diploma**
Certification Police (or Peace) Officer Standards Training (P.O.S.T.)**
Experience 0-3 years**
Key Skills Work with public and hostile parties, knowledge of law enforcement and judicial procedures**
Computer Skills Word processing, spreadsheet, legal and general research on the Internet, statistical reporting**
Technical Skills Magnetometers, x-ray machines and other devices to detect, identify and confiscate unauthorized firearms, knives and other contraband*
Additional Requirements Valid driver's license, physical fitness requirements, physical exam and psychological evaluation, minimum 21 years of age, proficiency with firearms, drug test, background investigation (no felony or disqualifying misdemeanor convictions)**

Sources: *O*Net Online, **Bailiff job postings (October, 2012).

Step 1: Complete Police Officer Standards Training

Since bailiffs are considered law enforcement officers, they are generally required to have completed a minimum level of P.O.S.T. training and obtain P.O.S.T. certification. This training is generally provided at a police academy and lasts from 3-6 months, depending on the level of training required by the court advertising the position. In some cases, it's possible to complete P.O.S.T. training as a non-affiliated student, that is, prior to obtaining a law enforcement job where a sponsoring agency pays the program fees.

Cadets are trained in federal, state and local law, firearms, arrest procedures and law enforcement procedures. There may also be a physical training and hands-on practice component. Applicants for this training must have a high school diploma or equivalent, no felony convictions and no disqualifying misdemeanor convictions. After completing the training, they must pass the state P.O.S.T. examination before certification is awarded. P.O.S.T. certification is generally valid as long as the graduate is working in law enforcement.

Success Tip:

  • Earn CPR certification. In some states, P.O.S.T. certification requires that candidates also have valid CPR certification. CPR training and certification providers, like the American Red Cross, offer classes to individuals that can be completed in one day.

Step 2: Obtain Experience

Obtaining an entry-level job in a court setting can provide valuable law and judicial procedure experience to an aspiring bailiff. The prospective bailiff can also acquire law enforcement experience by working as a deputy sheriff or police officer after graduating from the police academy. In some cases, applicants who are hired for bailiff positions will be sent to P.O.S.T. training by the court that hires them. Employers may prefer applicants with 2-5 years of work experience in positions related to law enforcement or court procedures.

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