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Administrative Law Judges, Adjudicators, And Hearing Officers Career

Career Description

Administrative law judges, adjudicators, and hearing officers conduct hearings to decide or recommend decisions on claims concerning government programs or other government-related matters and prepare decisions. Determine penalties or the existence and the amount of liability, or recommend the acceptance or rejection of claims, or compromise settlements.

Common Work Tasks

  • Make decisions on a person’s eligibility for various Social Security or workers’ compensation benefits, on protection of the environment, on the enforcement of health and safety regulations, on employment discrimination, and on compliance with economic regulatory requirements
  • Prepare written opinions and decisions
  • Review and evaluate data on documents, such as claim applications, birth or death certificates, and physician or employer records
  • Research and analyze laws, regulations,  policies, and precedent decisions to prepare for hearings and to determine conclusions
  • Confer with individuals or organizations involved in cases to obtain relevant information
  • Recommend the acceptance or rejection of claims or compromise settlements according to laws, regulations, policies, and precedent decisions
  • Explain to claimants how they can appeal rulings that go against them
  • Monitor and direct the activities of trials and hearings to ensure that they are conducted fairly and that courts administer justice while safeguarding the legal rights of all involved parties
  • Authorize payment of valid claims and determine method of payment
  • Conduct hearings to review and decide claims regarding issues such as social program eligibility, environmental protection,  and enforcement of health and safety regulations

Other Job Titles

Administrative Law Judges, Adjudicators, and Hearing Officers are also known by other titles, including:

  • Judges
  • Magistrates
  • Justice of the Peace
  • Conciliators

Education,  Training, and Experience

Education and Training
Federal administrative law judges must be lawyers and pass a competitive examination administered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Some State administrative law judges and other hearing officials are not required to be lawyers.

  Federal administrative law judges are appointed by various Federal agencies, with virtually lifetime tenure.


The median annual salary for Administrative Law Judges,  Adjudicators, and Hearing Officers is $74,000.  The top 10 percent earn more than $136,000,  and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $36,000.  Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of administrative law judges, adjudicators, and hearing officers are:

  • State Government - $68,420
  • Federal Executive Branch - $116,010
  • Local Government- $68,530

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  0%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 0
  • Employment 2006 : 15,000
  • Employment 2016:  15,000
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