Sheriff officer

messenger-at-arms enforcement officer enforcement agent bailiff
Legal and court services

Career outlook for sheriff officer

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would deliver official orders from the Scottish law courts to instruct a person to attend court, pay their debts or leave a property.

As a sheriff officer you would work on behalf of the sheriff courts in one of six regions of Scotland.

Once you have worked for some time as a sheriff officer you could becomes a messenger-at-arms. You would then be an officer of the Court of Session – the supreme civil court in Scotland – and would work throughout Scotland.

As a sheriff officer or messenger at arms you would personally deliver orders from the court to individuals, making sure that you hand the documents to the named person.

You could be dealing with people who may be upset and angry. You will need to be assertive to make sure they understand why the court has taken this action but make sure that the situation stays calm.

The court papers will instruct the person to do something, for example, to leave a house when they have not paid the rent for a long time.

You would:

  • Deliver citations which order the person to attend court
  • Deliver documents which order a person to pay their debts
  • Talk to people about making arrangements to pay their debts
  • Serve court orders related to family matters like adoption and divorce
  • Remove someone from a property in cases of domestic violence
  • Take a child from a property in custody disputes or cases of child abuse
  • Take away goods and repossess property

At all times you would have to adhere to the law and follow strict guidelines on what you’re allowed to do.

Working conditions


You would work around 37 to 40 hours a week in a full-time job. You must be flexible and able to cover early mornings, evenings and weekends. Part-time work is possible. You would often work on your own and sometimes as part of a small team. You may work as an employed bailiff, or be self-employed. You can be self-employed whilst still getting your work through a debt collection agency.


You would have an office base but would spend most of your time travelling to visit people who owe money. The job often involves lifting and carrying goods.


You would spend most of your time travelling to contact people. Employers may ask for a full clean driving licence and use of a car for work.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Cooperating
  • Reading
  • Verbal communication
  • Working with technology
  • Empathising
  • Taking initiative
  • Ethical
  • Reliable
  • Negotiating

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.


You'll need qualifications in English and maths at SCQF Level 4 or above. 

Once in a job, you'll complete a three-year traineeship through the Society of Messengers-at-Arms and Sheriff Officers. This would include passing the sheriff officers exam. 

Useful subjects

  • English
  • Maths
  • Social studies

You will also need

Some employers require you to have a driving licence. 

Helpful to have

Qualifications that show an ability to work with the public, deal with difficult situations and physical fitness such as Skills for Work Uniformed and Emergency Services.