Court guardians — or guardians ad litem — help find legal guardians for children and incapacitated adults. They are also appointed by state courts to interview children, parents and families; obtain records of children or incapacitated adults; assist them through court proceedings; and write reports for court judges. Court guardians’ salaries can vary significantly, depending on the state or district in which they live.
Salary at $30,000
The average annual salary of a court guardian was $30,000 as of 2014, according to the job site Simply Hired. Requirements for court guardians vary by state or district, however. Some are legal-aid lawyers who help disadvantaged children or adults. Others may have bachelor’s degrees in social work or related majors. The North Carolina Court System requires only a high school degree and 30 hours of training for court guardians. Court guardians who don’t have legal degrees are usually paired with attorney advocates when working on individual cases. Other essential qualifications for this job are compassion and analytical, decision-making, problem-solving, speaking and writing skills.
Top Pay in D.C.
In 2014, average annual salaries for court guardians vary the most in the South region, according to Simply Hired, where they earned the highest salaries of $47,000 in Washington, D.C., and the lowest of $23,000 in Mississippi. In the Midwest, court guardians made $23,000 to $32,000 per year in South Dakota and Minnesota, respectively. Court guardians who worked in Maine earned $27,000 a year, and those in Massachusetts averaged $36,000 a year — the lowest and highest salaries in the Northeast. In the West, they made the most in California and Alaska and the least in Montana, at $34,000 and $24,000 a year, respectively.
Earn Less Than Social Workers
While Indeed reported salaries of $30,000 a year for court guardians in 2014, the average salary for child and family social workers was $45,300 a year, as of May 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Social workers may perform some of the same tasks as court guardians, but they also respond to crisis situations and help find resources to enhance the well-being of children. The more comprehensive nature of their jobs is one reason they may earn more than court guardians. Also, the income of court guardians who are legal aids, or lawyers, are typically contingent on the number of cases they manage. Those who manage fewer cases may earn lower average salaries as court guardians.
Promising Job Outlook
The BLS doesn’t specifically forecast jobs for court guardians. It estimates a 15 percent increase in employment for all social workers from 2012 to 2022, which is average compared to the 14 percent national rate for all occupations. Court guardians work with social workers to help children find guardians and homes, which may increase demand for them through court systems. The BLS expects a 27 percent increase in jobs for health-care social workers through 2022. Population increases among the large baby boom generation, who are more likely to become incapacitated as they age than other Americans, may increase jobs for both social workers and the court guardians who assist incapacitate adults.