Buoyed by an annual need to replace those who leave the occupation, job openings for qualified probation officers should be plentiful in coming years, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As heavy workloads and vocation-related stress deter some candidates from seeking this kind of career path, competition for available posts should be lighter than average.

In Los Angeles, Long Beach and Santa Ana, probation officers earn an average annual wage in excess of $72,000, with top professionals bringing home yearly paychecks greater than $92,000. In Riverside, these experts can land annual salaries of more than $105,000, according to current employment data.

(Photo Courtesy of Dr. Michael Willard)

(Photo Courtesy of Dr. Michael Willard)

With a productive staff some 6,500 strong, the Los Angeles County Probation Department is the largest division of its type in the nation. It is currently recruiting professionals with admirable character traits and a solid educational background.

“Probation is a very large department within L.A. County government,” said Dr. Michael Willard, the faculty director of service learning at California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA). “An educated probation officer understands how to do research to constantly improve professional practices for the public good.”

How is CSULA preparing future probation officers?

“The School of Criminal Justice and Criminalistics is working with students to increase awareness about probation as a career option for its students and graduates. In our internship program, students have the opportunity to apply knowledge they have gained in their criminal justice courses to real-world experiences with the probation department. They gain valuable experience about a future career. Most importantly, students learn about the importance of improving professional practices at the probation department to better service clients and Los Angeles communities.”

What makes a probation officer’s role worthwhile?

“Probation serves the entire county, providing vital services that directly improve residents’ quality of life. It is an important, but less well-known part of the justice system that focuses on prevention and rehabilitation.”

What is your message to endeavoring probation officers?

“The L.A. County Probation Department encompasses many fields, and is committed to building long-term, sustainable partnerships with Los Angeles communities. It is a very multi-disciplinary place to work.”

Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist who covers topics of social interest in greater Los Angeles. Some news articles she has authored have been archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Sharon also contributes to Examiner.com.

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