Parking Enforcement Officer: Career Guide
In cities large and small, parking enforcement officers play an important role in maintaining road safety by monitoring and enforcing parking laws. In many jurisdictions, parking enforcement officers are sworn law enforcement officers. In others, parking enforcement workers are private employees who work for contracted security companies. Private industry parking enforcement positions are also available for large, privately owned properties that need parking enforcement services such as hospitals, sports arenas, and colleges and universities.
Career Description, Duties, and Common Tasks
Parking control officers are tasked with identifying and remedying violations of parking laws within their designated patrol area. Officers working in parking enforcement may ticket violations or arrange to have violators' vehicles towed. In some jurisdictions, parking enforcement officers may also be responsible for maintaining the flow of traffic on sidewalks and issuing citations to jaywalkers. Parking enforcement officers may also be called upon to assist as backup in the event of an emergency – for example, directing traffic around the scene of an accident. Typical duties include:
- Patrol the designated area on foot or in a vehicle
- Issue citations or call for tow services for illegally or improperly parked vehicles
- Monitor parking meters and cite vehicles violating meter rules
- Maintain accurate records of tickets issued and actions taken regarding parking violations
- Research suspicious vehicles and scan license plates for other violations
- Testify in court regarding contested tickets and other enforcement activities as necessary
Steps for Becoming a Parking Enforcement Officer
Parking enforcement officers must typically have at least a high school diploma. However, larger police forces that require parking control officers to be sworn patrol officers may require an associate's degree. For parking enforcement officer jobs in private organizations, a high school diploma and related job experience are typically desired. As you can see, the steps for becoming a parking enforcement officer will vary according to the hiring agency, but in most cases, the steps to becoming a parking enforcement officer will be similar to the following:
- Complete the education and experience requirements for the agency to which you are applying.
- Apply for a parking enforcement officer job.
- Complete a background check and pass a drug test.
- Take and pass a physical fitness test.
- Complete an interview with the hiring agency.
- Complete police officer training, in districts that require parking enforcement officers to be sworn police officers.
- Complete field training to learn the duties of the job.
Parking Enforcement Officer Job Training
Depending on whether you work for a law enforcement agency or a private organization, the training for parking enforcement officer jobs can vary. Those who work as parking enforcement officers through police agencies will undergo extensive training, including 12 or more weeks at a police academy, in order to become sworn law enforcement officers. Following graduation from the police academy, recruits will complete on-the-job field training with a senior officer in order to learn through real-world experience before being assigned their own patrol.
Parking control officers who work for private security services will typically undergo less intensive training. Depending on the employer's requirements, private parking control officers may need to complete firearms training and acquire a concealed carry license with similar requirements to that of sworn police officers. Similar to sworn officers, parking enforcement officers working for private organizations will typically undergo several weeks of training with a more senior employee in order to learn the ins and outs of the job.
Other Helpful Skills and Experience
Prospective parking enforcement officers should be physically fit, as a typical day will involve several miles of walking. Parking enforcement officers should also be prepared to diffuse tense situations while maintaining their composure, as it is not uncommon for parking tickets to be contested. Thorough knowledge of parking laws and police responsibilities is also key to succeeding in this position. Parking enforcement officers may also benefit from having an associate's or bachelor's degree; although it might not be required for initial hire, a degree may make applicants more competitive when applying for promotions to more senior positions, including supervising and management.
Possible Job Titles for This Career
- Code Enforcement Officer
- Community Service Officer
- Parking Control Officer
- Parking Enforcement Officer
- Patrol Officer
- Public Safety Officer
- Security Officer
Parking Enforcement Officer Salary and Job Outlook
As of May 2018, privately employed parking enforcement workers earned an average annual salary of $42,200, or $20.29 per hour.1 Parking enforcement workers earned the highest annual salary in Washington state, at $56,730 per year; California, Washington DC, Connecticut, and Illinois rounded out the top five states with the highest average salaries for this occupation.1 The most parking enforcement workers were employed in California, at 1,290.1 According to O*NET OnLine, 400 new job openings are projected for parking enforcement workers from 2016 to 2026, which are in addition to job openings created by vacancies as other workers leave their positions.2
Parking control officers working for police agencies have a brighter outlook. The average annual salary for police officers as of May 2018 was $65,400.3 California offered the highest average annual salary for police and patrol officers, at $101,380.3 The state with the highest number of sworn officers was also California, with 72,680 police and patrol officers.3 The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 7% employment growth for police officers between 2016 and 2026, representing an estimated 53,400 jobs added during that time period.4
Interested in a career similar to parking enforcement officer? Research these options:
- Conservation Officer
- Crime Scene Investigator
- Corrections Officer
- Fish and Game Warden
- Homicide Detective
- Police Officer
- Security Guard
- United States Park Police
- Victims Advocate
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Are parking enforcement officers sworn police officers?
Answer: Parking enforcement officers may be sworn police officers, depending on the city in which they work. In many major cities, including New York City and Los Angeles, parking enforcement is the responsibility of the police. In others, such as Chicago and Detroit, parking enforcement is mainly contracted to private third-party companies. Still other cities, such as Dallas and San Francisco, maintain parking enforcement services under municipal departments that are separate from the police department. Additionally, private properties, such as hospitals and colleges, typically use private security contractors to enforce parking restrictions.
Question: Do you need a degree to become a parking control officer?
Answer: The educational requirements to become a parking control officer depend on the hiring agency. Many private employers and police departments only require a high school diploma; others may require an associate's degree. Related experience, such as working in private security or in another role related to enforcing regulations, can be helpful as well when competing for available parking enforcement officer jobs.
Question: How much do parking enforcement officers make?
Answer: The average salary for parking enforcement officers varies according to the employer. Privately employed parking enforcement workers make an average annual salary of $42,200, while those who are employed as police officers earn an average annual salary of $65,400.1,3 Salaries can also vary widely according to the geographical area where you are looking for parking control officer jobs. In general, salaries will be higher in larger cities and metro areas – and these areas also tend to have a higher demand for parking enforcement workers.
- National Parking Association: The National Parking Association focuses on research, education, and best practices in designing and enforcing parking regulations in both the private and public sectors.
- The International Parking & Mobility Institute: This organization offers professional development, data collections, case studies, and certification programs to parking professionals worldwide.
- Parking Today: A leading source of news impacting the parking industry.
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, Parking Enforcement Officers: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes333041.htm
2. O*NET OnLine, Parking Enforcement Workers: https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/33-3041.00
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes333051.htm
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Police and Detectives: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/police-and-detectives.htm#tab-6