According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for juvenile probation officers in 2010 was $52,380. The top ten percent of officers earned salaries exceeding $83,410. The states with the highest annual salary were
- California: $75,370
- New Jersey: $74,780
- Connecticut: $73,190
- New York: $66,070
- Minnesota: $65,220
These salaries may vary widely according to educational background, work experience, employer and seniority.
The Impact of Education on Starting Salaries
The minimum education required for juvenile probation officers is a bachelor’s degree. Many state courts, however, have implemented a master’s degree requirement, and many other courts grant preference to applicants with an advanced degree or at least one year of graduate-level course work. The steep challenges to monitoring a multitude of juveniles from various cultures, socioeconomic classes, and family situations requires a diverse skill set that should include counseling, criminology, and substance abuse remediation.
Possessing a master’s or doctorate degree can substantially increase the entering salary. For example, in Indiana, officers with an advanced degree automatically qualify for a 5 percent salary bonus. Most courts incentivize professionals with superlative academic credentials to join their agency with increased salaries. An advanced degree also provides career benefits like rapid promotion and greater success on the job.
Many employers also provide hiring preference or salary bonuses for individuals who possess certifications in critical professions. Social work or substance abuse counseling licenses are extremely beneficial to juvenile probation officers throughout their careers and are usually a worthwhile investment.
The Impact of Work Experience on Starting Salaries
The majority of courts expect applicants to possess at least three years of related work experience, preferably in the detention or social work fields. Employers invest a considerable amount of time and resources in training a juvenile probation officer, and it is in their best interests to identify individuals who are likely to excel in the care and supervision of young offenders. Professionals who have had extensive experience in therapeutic settings like mental health clinics or drug dependency centers, as well those who have worked in juvenile detention facilities are more likely to acclimatize rapidly to the juvenile probation profession.
Applicants who have clearly demonstrated their commitment to at risk youths, a diverse skill set, and prior success in a similar judicial or human welfare setting are likely to enjoy competitive advantages throughout their juvenile probation career. Although most agencies do not advertise greater compensation for extensive work experience, experienced professionals do advance more quickly.
Different Employers, Different Salaries
State or local governments employ the majority of juvenile probation officers. The average juvenile probation officer salary paid by local agencies is $53,110, and similarly, the average salary for state court probation officers is $52,840. Courts serving urban areas tend to offer much greater salaries than those within similar courts in rural areas.
When considering which agency to apply to, it is important to also consider the benefits provided, especially the additional salary bonuses. Some agencies may not provide overtime benefits or may require a longer period of employment before eligibility for retirement. While a larger jurisdiction is likely to provide a higher base salary it may also expect more work from its officers. It is wise to balance the demands of the job with the duration of the career; burnout is not uncommon in this profession.
Probation Officer Salaries According to Seniority
One of the most important factors in determining a juvenile probation officer’s salary is their time on the job. Government agencies seek to keep these highly experienced senior officers by promotion to higher levels and by paying much greater salaries. A recent study by the ALLP shows that officers who stay in the profession for 20 years or longer can almost double the entering salary.