Due to the impressive qualifications and credentials that most parole officers possess, most corrections systems provide lucrative salaries to attract the most highly qualified professionals. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics pegs the national average parole officer salary at $47,200 in 2010, but salaries may differ widely depending upon education, professional experience, location, and employer.
Salary Expectations Based on Job Title
Parole Specialist – This professional is tasked with monitoring parolees who have been transferred to other states in addition to the typical responsibilities required in supervising parolees. Parole specialists must have knowledge of the Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision that governs multi-jurisdiction parole operations. A recent job posting by the Virginia Division of Institutions provided a salary range of $34,275 up to $53,510.
Parole Intelligence Analyst – Parole intelligence analysts are specialists that collect data from across a corrections system and interpret it for use in developing agency policies. They also assist parole officers in managing their responsibilities. These are typically middle management positions with less interaction with parolees. The Colorado Division of Adult Parole, Community Corrections and Youthful Offenders provides a parole officer salary range of $56,796 to $81,936.
Chief Parole Officer – The heads of parole and probation offices oversee administration of many correctional responsibilities and manage several parole officers, surveillance officers and administrative professionals. They assign cases, coordinate office priorities, and train staff. These senior management positions come with heavy responsibilities that extend throughout a community. A recent posting by the North Carolina Department of Public Safety offered new Chief Parole Officers salaries that ranged from $41,667 up to $68,177.
Education and its Impact on a Parole Officer’s Salary
Post-secondary education serves two critical purposes in the careers of parole officers. First it provides credentials that can be advantageous during the application process and career progression. Advanced degrees like a Master of Social Work or Master of Business Administration can prove to be a real advantage when competing for parole officer jobs.
Secondly, a strong academic background is preparation for the challenging duties of a parole officer. Caseloads may sometimes exceed a hundred parolees and there is considerable variation in ages, socioeconomic background, and cultural origins.
While a bachelor’s degree is an essential qualification, having an advanced degree may contribute to a higher initial salary or faster advancement up the pay scale. Advanced degrees also help in the obtainment of promotions, as skills in public administration, management and executive leadership are highly desirable in supervisors and directors.
Professional Experience and Starting Salaries
Professionals coming from law enforcement or counseling backgrounds can expect higher salaries. Many of the skills gained from these related professions provide higher entry level salaries and can accelerate the pace of promotion due to better success on the job. Some of the qualities that parole officer employers are looking for are superior physical conditioning and ability to perform within high stress situations. Applicants who have served in police organizations have already demonstrated this and those with experience in chemical dependency facilities or clinical treatment for the mentally ill usually have strong competencies.
Like most other jobs, seniority translates into higher salaries. In the Texas Department of corrections, parole officers may expect a modest salary increase with each of the ten step promotions required to reach the next tier. A Parole Officer I may earn a salary from $34,572 up to $38952, while a Parole Officer IV may expect a salary ranging from $49,776 up to $55,548.
How Location Affects a Parole Officer’s Salary
A key factor in determining a salary is the cost of living associated with a region. In order to attract qualified applicants and minimize the likelihood of corruption, most parole offices provide salaries that meet or exceed the average income of given locale. It is also important to research the salaries of potential employers; state parole offices are likely to provide greater salaries than those for municipal or county corrections departments. The following are some parole officer salary ranges in regions around the country:
- Washington: $58,000-$63,000
- Georgia: $38,000-$42,000
- North Carolina: $35,000-$39.000
- New York: $52,643
- California: $43,292-$64,938
- Illinois: $42,274-$63,411