Warden Salary: What You’ll Earn

A Career as a Warden in the Criminal Justice System Can Offer You Lucrative Earning Opportunities

Prison wardens earn lucrative salaries compared to other corrections positions, as reported by the PayScale. In fact, salary estimates show that wardens earn more than two times as much as corrections officers and bailiffs. Wardens hold the highest management position within a prison, so it makes sense that they have greater earning potential. This also means that wardens need more education experience than other prison workers.

The following guide offers detailed information about warden salaries, including how they compare to other criminal justice occupations. This guide also discusses the education and experience needed to pursue a career as a warden.

How Much Do Wardens Earn?

Warden salaries vary depending on several factors. For example, a warden's educational background can make a considerable difference. While many people can obtain jobs as prison workers and correctional officers with only a high school diploma, a higher education in criminal justice can help professionals find upper-level positions with more pay. Additionally, wardens who hope to work in federal facilities need at least a bachelor's degree for consideration.

Experience also matters. According to PayScale, prison wardens with 20 or more years of experience earn considerably more than professionals in the earlier stages of their careers. Finally, larger municipalities tend to pay wardens more than small town or rural prisons. However, cities typically require a higher cost of living.

What’s My Earning Potential as a Warden?

Your specific earning potential largely depends on the factors listed above, including your education level, geographic location, and years of experience. According to PayScale, the average warden makes an annual salary of about $86,000. Interested individuals can find additional salary details for correctional officers — broken down by state — as provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

How Do Warden Careers Compare to Other Criminal Justice Careers?

Since wardens work in top supervisory roles at prisons, they earn more than many other criminal justice professionals. When comparing median annual salaries, wardens earn over $20,000 more than police officers and detectives. They also make more than three times as much as security guards and gaming surveillance officers, as seen in the table below. Fish and game wardens, who enforce regulations relating to hunting and fishing, also earn considerably less than prison wardens.

Position Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate
Wardens $86,000 N/A
Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers $28,530 6%
Fish and Game Wardens $49,000 N/A
Corrections Officers and Bailiffs $44,400 -7%
Police and Detectives $63,380 7%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, PayScale

Take the Next Step Today

One way to boost your earning potential as a warden includes pursuing an advanced degree. The resources below offer more detailed information about criminal justice education and warden job preparation for people who are unsure how to start their warden career journey.