Wages for a Probation Officer

by Aurelio Locsin

When convicted offenders are put on probation, they are monitored by a probation officer who ensures his clients meet all the requirements of their probationary terms. He meets frequently with offenders to discuss treatment options, supervises their progress, and writes reports detailing their clients’ activities. Salaries of probation officers vary by employer and location.


Probation officers earned a mean $52,380 per year as of May 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The lowest-earning 10 percent made less than an annual $31,590, while the highest earner received over $83,410 yearly. The minimum requirement for the profession is typically a bachelor’s degree in social work, criminal justice or psychology. Those who do not have related work experience may need to have a master’s degree. In addition, applicants must usually pass oral, written and psychological tests. Successful recruits undergo a training program sponsored by their employers. They must pass a certification test before being allowed to work professionally.

Regional Comparison

About 15 percent of all probation officers worked in the state with the largest population and potential for criminal activity, California. The state also offered the highest mean salaries, at $75,370 per year. For metropolitan areas, Los Angeles had almost 5 percent of the jobs and average annual pay of $70,850. The highest paying city was Sacramento, averaging an annual $88,690. Other high-paying metropolises are also in California, and include Santa Ana, at a mean $84,120; Oakland at a mean $81,410 yearly; Riverside, averaging an annual $79,310; and San Francisco, at a mean $79,070 per year.

Contributing Factors

Over half of all probation officer jobs are with state government, which boasts the second highest-paying averages of $52,840 per year. Local government shows the best wages, at a mean $53,110. It also shows the second-best job opportunities, with 41 percent of the probation-officer jobs. Aside from government, the best salaries are with psychiatric and substance-abuse hospitals, averaging an annual $49,580, followed by facilities support services, at a mean $43,870 yearly.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that jobs for probation officers will grow by 18 percent from 2010 to 2020. This compares to the 14 percent growth expected for all occupations in all industries. Sentencing guidelines may recommend probation, especially if the offender commits a non-violent crime or he is considered a lower risk. In addition, many officers will be retiring from their careers during the decade, opening up positions for new workers. Hiring is affected by government funding.

About the Author

Aurelio Locsin has been writing professionally since 1982. He published his first book in 1996 and is a frequent contributor to many online publications, specializing in consumer, business and technical topics. Locsin holds a Bachelor of Arts in scientific and technical communications from the University of Washington.

Photo Credits

  • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images