According to an occupational survey by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics conducted in May 2012, the median annual wage for judges, magistrate judges and magistrates in the United States is $115,760. Judges, magistrate judges and magistrates preside over court hearings and trials in federal, state, county and city courts.
The median wage for judges represents the amount at which half of all judges earn a greater wage and half earn a lesser wage. Actual earnings for judges vary substantially from the median. The bottom 25 percent of earners in the profession make $54,500 or less, while the bottom 10 percent of earners make $30,060 or less. At the other end of the spectrum, the top 25 percent of earners in the profession make $139,850 or more, while the top 10 percent of earners make $166,880 or more.
Administrative law judges work in government agencies. Rather than presiding over criminal and civil court cases, these judges resolve disputes that arise between a government agency and citizens who are affected by the agency’s actions. Administrative law judges earn a median annual wage of $87,240. The bottom 10 percent of earners in this profession make $40,330 or less. The top 10 percent of earners make $154,380.