Growth Trends for Related Jobs
In local government, county commissioners are the big dogs. They set county tax rates, approve zoning and development requests, set priorities for road building and repair, and pass a variety of local legislation. State law may limit their options – counties aren't supposed to run a budget deficit, for instance – but the commissioners still have a lot of clout. Salaries vary across the country, depending on population and county income. Armstrong County Texas pays $6,480 per year at the time of writing, while other counties pay into the six figures.
Different websites set different estimates for the average county commissioner paycheck. According to Simplyhired.com, salaries for county commissioners average $71,609. Payscale says $58,397.
Serving as County Commissioner
County commissioners – also called judges, freeholders and police jurors in some parts of the country – do a lot more than just sit and vote. At the local level, government gets intense: The state highway budget may be an abstract thing, but maintaining the roads you drive every day is personal. While most county commissioners serve part time, in practice they're always on call, with county residents constantly calling them to vent. County commission members have lots of meetings to attend. In addition to the regularly scheduled meetings, commissioners may have to attend special sessions, hearings on legal issues, and lots of meetings with constituents. It's a challenging job if you're not a people person.
Commissioners around the country all share a common responsibility to make decisions for the good of the community. That includes being fair, listening to arguments on different sides of an issue, and reading the reports and information prepared by the county's staff.
What the Job Needs
There are no educational requirements to become a county commissioner, nor any particular job experience. County commissioners come from all walks of life: blue collar, white collar, lawyer, farmer, college student. In most states, the only requirements are that you've lived in the county for a year and that you're at least 21. Some states don't allow you to serve if you've been convicted of a crime.
The one essential requirement is that you get elected. Depending on the size of the county, campaigns may be low cost and focused on connecting face-to-face, or filled with professionally made TV ads.
County Commissioner Salary
In a lot of industries, you can follow the money, moving wherever the jobs are. County commission jobs aren't like that; they're only open to the people who actually live in the county. Pay varies a lot between counties, even in a single state.
Take Texas, for example: There's Jeff Davis County, with a population of less than 5,000, that offers a paltry $240 to commissioners. Loving County, with an equally small population, pays $40,000. Victoria County commissioners, serving a population above 50,000, earn $80,000 a year for their services.
Over the course of his career, Fraser Sherman has reported on local governments, written about how to start a business and profiled professionals in a variety of career fields.. He lives in Durham NC with his awesome wife and two wonderful dogs. His website is frasersherman.com