How do I Become an Administrative Law Judge?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2019
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Administrative law judges typically work for government agencies and make rulings on such issues as whether a person qualifies for social security, worker's compensation claims, and economic regulation compliance. A person who wants to become an administrative law judge usually has to earn a bachelor’s degree at minimum in order to find a job. Experience in the legal field or with the agency at which the individual wants to work is often required as well. More often, aspiring administrative law judges also attend law school. This can prove helpful for finding a job, as many employers prefer those who hold law degrees. The exact requirements for this job may vary from place to place.

Administrative law judges are often referred to as hearing officers or adjudicators. They typically find employment with government entities and use their skills for resolving conflicts and making decisions regarding administrative matters. For example, a particular government agency may proceed in a manner that creates a conflict with another person or organization. An administrative judge helps to resolve the problems that may come from the government agency's practices, processes, or regulations. A person with this title often decides cases involving benefit programs for the elderly and the disabled, the environment, discrimination, and financial regulations.


Most new administrative judges come from a legal background. A person who wants to become an administrative law judge often goes to college and then law school in preparation for this career. In fact, administrative law judges often become practicing lawyers first, gaining experience working in a legal environment. After building upon his skills and gaining valuable experience, a lawyer may move up into the position of an administrative law judge.

A person who wants to become an administrative law judge for a national government agency is typically required to be a lawyer and pass an exam created by or approved by the government. In some places, new administrative law judges also attend orientation to prepare for this career. Often, a person in this field continues with his education long after he has secured a job. In fact, he may be required to take continuing education courses in order to stay up-to-date in the legal field.

Regional and local governments may set their own requirements for a person who wants to become an administrative law judge. At minimum, these governments typically require a bachelor’s degree and some work experience in a legal field or with the government agency for which the person will work. Often, however, lawyers are preferred for these positions as well.


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