Parole and Probation Officer Jobs

Probation and parole officers are responsible for ensuring that criminal offenders who have been placed on probation or parole stay out of trouble and stick to the terms of their probation or parole.

A parole officer supervises someone who is on parole, meaning a person who has already served time and been released from prison.

A parole officer works with criminals who have been sentenced to probation rather than being locked in an institution.

In some states, the jobs of a probation and parole officer are combined.

Job Description: A Day in the Life of a Parole or Probation Officer

Both probation and parole officers need to meet with the offenders they are in charge of monitoring to ensure that the offender is meeting the requirements of his or her probation or parole. Officers must also keep in touch with a wide network of contacts for each offender they are monitoring. Speaking with the offender’s family, friends, bosses and coworkers helps the officer determine how the offender is doing.

An officer may also have to help offenders they are monitoring to obtain services like substance abuse counseling or job training. Officers must keep extensive notes on the progress and problems of each person they monitor. Parole and probations officers are also a key element of the judicial system. An officer may need to provide information regarding the offender’s background, and can also recommend sentences for the accused.

General Requirements and Training

Potential probation/parole officers must usually be at least 21 years of age, be in good physical and emotional condition, and hold a Bachelor’s Degree in criminal justice, psychology, social work or a related field. Potential candidates must undergo psychological testing as well as a written exam. Prior work experience is essential and can include experience in law enforcement, counseling, or social work.

At the federal level, probation/parole officers must be between ages 21-37, hold a bachelor’s degree, and have prior experience.

Most probation and parole officers are required to complete a state- or federal-sponsored training program and certification test before they begin work.

Salary, Benefits, and Opportunities for Advancement

According to the BLS, median annual earnings of probation officers as of 2006 were $42,970 at the state level and $43,100 at the local level. The middle 50% of probation offers nationally earned from $33,880 to $56,280. Benefits usually include retirement plan, paid vacation, and health and dental.

Any agency of parole or probation officers, whether at the local, state or federal level, will have several levels of officers and supervisors in the field. Advancement opportunities are based mostly on an officer’s work performance and amount of experience.

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