Sometimes called parole officers, probation officers work with individuals convicted of crimes. Probation officers typically work with individuals sentenced to probation instead of prison, while parole officers work with those released from prison but still on parole. These professionals make sure that clients and former inmates don't break the law again. This job usually requires a bachelor's degree related to criminal justice, social work or psychology.
Although probation and parole officer jobs vary from state to state and by municipality, most probation officers tend to make around $30,000 their first year on the job. For example, probation officers in Indiana start at $29,912, which increases to $32,198 their second year on the job. Probation officers in Florida make $30,434 as trainees and then a starting salary of $33,478 when they become certified officers. In Alabama, probation officers start with a salary of $33,902 per year.
Pay for parole and probation officers usually tops out between $50,000 and $60,000 per year after several years of experience. For example, probation officers in Indiana can make a maximum base salary of $55,017 after 20 years in the field. Those in Florida earn a maximum base salary of $51,603 per year, and Alabama parole and probation officers can earn a maximum base salary of $53,995.
Other Factors Affecting Pay
Besides experience, other factors can affect the pay of probation and parole officers. Whether they work for state or local governments has little bearing on pay; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that local parole officers earned $53,110 in 2012, while state parole officers made $52,840 per year. Those who have a master's or doctoral degree sometimes receive higher pay; for example, Indiana gives probation officers with graduate degrees an automatic 5-percent pay raise. Location may also play a role, even within states; Florida gives parole officers different yearly stipends depending on the county they work in.
The job outlook for probation and parole officers is good through 2020. While the BLS expects jobs to grow at an average rate of 14 percent, it predicts that jobs for probation officers will grow by 18 percent, partly because judges are looking to reduce the prison population by sentencing nonviolent offenders to probation rather than prison time. In addition, the high level of stress and relatively low pay offered probation officers lead to high turnover, meaning that those seeking employment in the field should be able to find a job. Furthermore, the field welcomes women; the BLS estimates that 47.5 percent of probation and parole officers were women as of 2012.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: May 2012 Wages for Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Median Weekly Earnings of Full-Time Wage and Salary Workers by Detailed Occupation and Sex, 2012
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Employed Persons by Detailed Occupation, Sex, and Race
- Judicial Conference of Indiana: 2013 Minimum Salary Schedule for Probation Officers
- Florida Department of Corrections: Correctional Probation Officer Careers
- State of Alabama Personnel Department: Probation and Parole Officer Job Application
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