What Is the Starting Salary of a Probation Officer?

Imagine a career where you can help criminals adjust to society and become contributing members. Probation officers monitor convicted criminals who are sentenced to community supervision, usually instead of serving time in jail. Read on to see salary information for probation officers and the factors that affect earnings. Schools offering Corrections degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

Probation is a sentence handed down by a court where a criminal agrees to be supervised and abide by guidelines while living in a designated community instead of going to jail. The probation sentence may include severe restrictions on activities and travel. As a probation officer, you supervise probationers to ensure they abide by the probation restrictions. You're often called on to work with criminal treatment specialists in the successful rehabilitation of a probationer.

These professionals are mainly employed by state and local governments. Job prospects for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists aren't expected to grow much at all between 2012 and 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Important Facts About This Occupation

Required Education Bachelor's degree; a master's degree may be preferred by some employers
On-the-Job Training Completion of a short government training program is required
Key Skills Communication, organizational, decision-making, and critical-thinking skills; emotional stability
Work Environment Probation officers work with criminals, which can sometimes lead to a hostile work environment
Similar Occupations Correctional officer, social worker, substance abuse counselor

Salary Overview

The BLS reported that the mean wage of probation officers and correctional treatment specialists in May 2014 was $53,360. Workers in the bottom 10 percent of salaries made $32,810 or less, and those in the top 10 percent of salaries made $83,920 or higher. A September 2015 salary report from Payscale.com showed most probation officers earned between $26,392 and $48,367 with less than five years of experience. Your salary for the first and subsequent years is determined by a number of factors, such as years of experience, job location and employer.

Salary by Experience

You can expect your salary to increase over time as you gain more experience. Payscale.com reported in September 2015 that most probation officers with 5-10 years of experience earned a median salary of $40,000, while those with 10-20 years of experience had an annual salary range of $32,464 and $78,213.

Salary by Location

Geographic location makes a difference in your salary. Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists employed in urban areas may have higher wages, according to the BLS. Mean wages in the New York City metropolitan area were $70,570 in May 2014, while mean wages in the Los Angeles metropolitan area were $73,950. The BLS also reported that mean wages were the highest in California ($78,060), Connecticut ($76,420), New Jersey ($73,840), Illinois ($68,460), and New York ($66,270).

Salary by Employer

Your salary can also depend on your employer. Probation officers are most often employed by state and local government agencies. The BLS reported that mean earnings for those working for state government were $53,010 in May 2014, while those working for local government made mean wages of $54,770. Individual and family services paid much lower mean wages of $32,950.

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