Judges in the United States earn a mean salary of $115,460. The a judge salary is around C$225,659 ($178,470 USD) in Canada and £48,829 ($63,945 USD) in the United Kingdom. In Australia, judges have a mean pay of AU$127,201 ($99,644 USD). The figure is CHF90,947 ($94,298 USD) in Switzerland and NOK907,200 ($110,930 USD) in Norway.
Judge Salary Influencers
While the numbers vary by country and position, the pay of judges commonly depends on factors such as the level of court and authority and experience to an extent. Learn below how the nature of the judicial system influences how salaries and other compensation for judges are fixed.
Judges function as government officials. Legislatures set the pay of judges, which is determined often by particular court over which the judge presides. Earnings of judges often rise with the density of facts or issues generally encountered in their courts. On the whole, judges of a country or state’s highest courts receive the highest pay in the judiciary. Often, the highest courts determine matters with significant consequences, complexity or importance to the public.
The qualifications and terms of offices for judges are established either by statute or constitution. Depending on the state or country, judges serve either by a popular election or appointment.
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Judge Salary in the US
The mean salary for “Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates” in the United States stands at $115,460. The median figure is $125,880, with the top ten percent of earners making above $183,750.
As of 2017, the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court makes $263,000 per year and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court earns $251,800. Judges who serve on the Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal have a set salary of $217,600. At the federal District Court Level, the salary is $205,100.
Judge Salary in Canada
On a median basis, judges in Canada earn $225,659 per year. Salaries run between $49,466 and $272,085.
As of April 1, 2015, justices on the Supreme Court of Canada are paid C$367,300. For the Chief Justice, the salary stands at C$396,700. For the Federal Courts and Tax Courts in Canada, a justice makes C$308,600 and the Chief Justice and Associate Chief Justice earns C$338,400.
Judge Salary in the UK
For judges and magistrates overall in the United Kingdom, the mean pay rests at £48,829. As of January 2016, the “Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales” earned an annual salary of £249,583. The “Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland” made £222,862.
Puisine (pronounced “puny”) judges, or judges of the High Court, had earnings of £179,768. For District Judges, the annual pay stood at £107,100. The United Kingdom also has courts that concentrate on land cases, employment law, family and domestic disputes, social entitlements, and criminal matters. Depending on the specific court, these judges fetch between £107,100 and £152,623.
Judge Salary in Australia
According to SalaryExpert, “Judges and Magistrates” in Australia earn a mean pay of AU$127,201 per year.
Effective January 2017, the base salary for the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia is set at AU$573,050, while a justice earns a base pay of AU$520,030. At the national or federal court level, most other judges make AU$441,010. These include judges in the Family Court of Australia, Federal Court of Australia, the Australian Competition Tribunal, Administrative Appeals Tribunal and National Native Title Tribunal. In the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, a judge’s pay rests at AU$372,180 and the Chief Judge garners AU$441,010.
Australia’s provinces set salaries for judges in their courts.
Judge Salary in Switzerland
The mean pay for Swiss judges registers at CHF90,957.
Judge Salary in Norway
According to Statistics Norway, judges in the country enjoy a mean pay of NOK75,600 per month. This equates to an annual figure of NOK907,200.
With legislative bodies typically setting judges’ salaries, the effect of experience will depend upon the jurisdiction.
In some cases, there exists a negative correlation between experience and pay. For instance, PayScale reports a median pay of $131,000 for entry-level trial judges in the United States. Those who accumulated five years of experience had a median of $102,000.
According to SalaryExpert, the mean salary registers at AU$103,711 for entry-level judges and magistrates in Australia. Those with eight or more years of experience make AU$167,266 on average. Entry-level judges in Switzerland earn on average CHF73,832 per year, says SalaryExpert. At the senior stage of experience, the mean pay is CHF119,417.
Typically, judges work full-time. Aside from court sessions, judges hold chambers hours where they research law, prepare decisions and remain available to sign orders or other documents. Law enforcement or prosecutors may need to find judges after regular work hours or even on weekends to sign arrest or search warrants for urgent matters. Away from the courthouse, judges may speak at schools or other public functions.
Part-time judges may perform some judicial functions. In Switzerland, deputy judges and recorders may handle less complex cases than full-time counterparts. However, Deputy District Courses in Magistrate’s Court have duties comparable to those of full-time District Judges.
In the United Kingdom, part-time judges earn fees based on the number of days worked. Generally, the minimum number of working, or sitting, days stands at 15 days per year.
Bonuses & Benefit Packages
PayScale reports mean bonuses of $6,000 for trial judges in the United States. In Australia, bonuses average AU6,030, while judges in Switzerland receive mean bonuses of CH4,330.
Most judges receive retirement benefits as government employees. These usually take the form of annuities. Legislatures usually set guidelines for when benefits vest and the amount. Judges may face mandatory retirement. For instance, retirement is required at age 70 in the United Kingdom. Judges may also receive allowances for relocating or reimbursement for travel or overnight expenses for trials or sessions away from home.
Openings for judge seats will come mostly through retirement and resignations. Statutory and constitutional provisions fix the number judges for courts, whether at the appellate level or within trial or judicial districts. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ projection of 200 openings for “Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates” in the United States by 2024 reflects the small number of job openings among judges.
Further, prospective judges face a variety of qualifications. Generally, admission or eligibility to practice law is a prerequisite and, for some seats, the applicant must log a certain number of years as a lawyer or barrister. For most Canadian jurisdictions, the minimum stands at ten years. In Australia, the qualifications include either five years as a lawyer or current or previous work as a “judicial officer.”
Magistrates and “justices of the peace,” such as those in Switzerland, do not have formal legal training and might not even have a college degree. These judges usually hear small claims or other non-complicated matters. Norway’s court system uses “lay” judges appointed by municipal councils to hear certain matters in district courts or serve alongside professional (law-trained) judges in certain matters. ()
The highest pay in the judiciary goes to those justices in the countries’ highest courts. Very few reach those levels, given the qualifications and process for filling those judgeships. Openings for judicial offices result from retirements and resignations more so than new positions created by legislation.