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How Much Does a Juris Doctor Make?

Salary and Career Prospects for a Juris Doctor

A juris doctor degree is a professional law degree that can be earned on completion of law school. While a JD allows graduates to practice law once they have passed the state bar exam, it can also lead graduates to find employment in many high-paying careers such as consulting, editing, becoming a judge, and mediation. Finding work in other respected professions, especially in the field of politics is also quite common for a JD graduate. A juris doctor degree can further open a person up to significant opportunities for higher earnings in their career.

What Jobs Can You Get with a JD Degree?

Working in the legal sector is the most common path for JD graduates. Within the legal profession, graduates can home in on a particular area of the law to carve out a career, from criminal to real estate law. A JD degree will cover all aspects of law to give students a thorough understanding and assist them in finding their niche should they wish to pursue the legal route. Furthermore, the degree can lead to a multitude of careers for the skills and discipline it teaches. Consider a juris doctor degree not only for pursuing a legal profession, but for the experiences it can offer in other job sectors and the salary-earning capabilities that accompany the degree.


The most common and obvious choice for JD graduates is to pursue a career as a lawyer. Within the title of being a lawyer exists multiple different duties and responsibilities determined by the area of law practiced. Thus, salaries in this profession will vary depending on the type of law practiced, the number of years the individual has practiced law, the size of the law firm, and geographical location. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary reported for a lawyer in 2019 was $122,960 per year. However, a managing partner in a law firm can expect a figure much higher than this.


Consulting is another possible career path for JD graduates. Management consultants use their legal knowledge to assist business owners and executives on a contract basis. They can work on a freelance basis or for a consulting firm, assisting clients briefly or over many years. Their compensation will differ between clients but the median salary for a management consultant collated by Glassdoor is $100,235 per year.

Journalists, Editors, and Writers

Having a JD degree can launch a graduate into the field of journalism in both print and online, especially in writing jobs related to legal publications. This is because the degree teaches research, writing, and editing skills as the ability to synthesize and disseminate information. Salaries within these professions will respectively vary. Overall, an editor makes roughly $52,000 per year, a journalist $44,771 per year, and a writer $51,395 per year, as recorded by Glassdoor. However, within these positions exist multiple titles that will see a fluctuation in salary-earning capability.


A judge or hearing officer's main duty is to interpret and apply the law to legal and regulatory cases. They typically work in a courtroom, overseeing civil or criminal cases. In most instances, a law degree is required to fulfill this position. Becoming a judge usually takes several years of practice as a lawyer before consideration of the role. PayScale records the average salary for a judge or magistrate judge at $77,883. However, this will fluctuate between states, an individual's experience, and expertise.


Mediators work as neutral third parties to resolve legal disputes outside of court by listening to individuals on both sides and assisting them to come to an agreement before litigation. They may deal with business partners, divorcing couples, and landlord/tenant disputes. Mediators save clients money and time by avoiding the courtroom. Their median salary is $84,538 annually, according to information gathered by Zip Recruiter.


Many individuals seeking a career in politics pursue a JD degree as it can provide a competitive edge in an already competitive industry. Having a thorough understanding of legal practices is beneficial to a career in politics. A JD degree teaches skills of persuasion and negotiation, which are crucial to a career in the political world. A law degree can help launch an individual into roles such as politicians, lobbyists, campaign managers, public policy analysts, and more. While salary will depend largely on the role and responsibilities, Glassdoor estimates that the median salary for a politician is $108,997 annually.

How Can You Become a Juris Doctor?

To be admitted into a juris doctor program, students must have completed an undergraduate degree. There is no specific undergraduate coursework required for admission, but a Bachelor of Science or Arts is desired. Students with a high grade-point average are also looked upon more favorably. Once admitted, a juris doctor degree requires three years of full-time study. On completion, graduates are eligible to sit for the bar exam in the state in which they wish to practice law.

Earn Your Juris Doctor Degree at Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law

Earn your juris doctor at Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law on completion of 88 units of course work. Our program is designed to graduate students practice-ready. We do this by offering co-curricular experiential learning that includes clinical work, externship experience, and a range of international study programs. The Caruso School of Law campus is in the heart of beautiful Malibu and is steeped in Christian heritage with a strong community of excellence, and opportunities to get involved in numerous extra-curricular activities. Learn more about the curriculum, the courses we offer, and our experiential learning opportunities on our website. View our admission requirements and start your application today.