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Become A Probation Officer

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Working As A Probation Officer

  • Getting Information
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Mostly Sitting

  • $49,360

    Average Salary

What Does A Probation Officer Do

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists monitor and work with probationers to prevent them from committing new crimes.

Duties

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists typically do the following:

  • Meet with probationers in an office or at the probationer’s residence
  • Evaluate probationers to determine the best course of rehabilitation
  • Provide probationers with resources, such as job training
  • Test probationers for drugs and offer substance abuse counseling 
  • Monitor probationers’ contact with law enforcement
  • Conduct meetings with probationers and their family and friends
  • Write reports and maintain case files on probationers

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists work with probationers who are given probation instead of jail time, who are still in prison, or who have been released from prison.

The following are examples of types of probation officers and correctional treatment specialists:

Probation officers, who are sometimes referred to as community supervision officers, supervise people who have been placed on probation instead of sent to prison. They work to ensure that the probationer is not a danger to the community and to help in their rehabilitation through frequent visits with the probationer. Probation officers write reports that detail each probationer’s treatment plan and their progress since being put on probation. Most work exclusively with either adults or juveniles.

Parole officers work with people who have been released from jail and are serving parole, helping them re-enter society. Parole officers monitor post-release parolees and provide them with information on various resources, such as substance abuse counseling or job training, to aid in their rehabilitation. By doing so, the officers try to change the parolee’s behavior and thus reduce the risk of that person committing another crime and having to return to prison.

Both probation and parole officers supervise those under community supervision through personal contact with the probationers and their families. Probation and parole officers require regularly scheduled contact with supervisees by telephone or through office visits, and they also check on them at their homes or places of work. When making home visits, probation and parole officers take into account the safety of the neighborhood in which the probationers and parolees live and any mental health considerations that may be pertinent. Probation and parole officers also oversee drug testing and electronic monitoring of those under supervision. In some states, officers do the jobs of both probation and parole officers.

Pretrial services officers investigate a pretrial defendant’s background to determine if the defendant can be safely allowed back into the community before his or her trial date. Officers must assess the risk and make a recommendation to a judge, who decides on the appropriate sentencing or bond amount. When pretrial defendants are allowed back into the community, pretrial officers supervise them to make sure that they stay within the terms of their release and appear at their trials.

Correctional treatment specialists, also known as case managers or correctional counselors, advise probationers and develop rehabilitation plans for them to follow when they are no longer in prison or on parole. They may evaluate inmates using questionnaires and psychological tests. They also work with inmates, probation officers, and staff of other agencies to develop parole and release plans. For example, they may plan education and training programs to improve probationers’ job skills.

Correctional treatment specialists write case reports that cover the inmate’s history and the likelihood that he or she will commit another crime. When inmates are eligible for release, the case reports are given to the appropriate parole board. The specialist may help set up counseling for the parolees and their families, find substance abuse or mental health treatment options, aid in job placement, and find housing. Correctional treatment specialists also explain the terms and conditions of the prisoner’s release and keep detailed written accounts of each parolee’s progress.

The number of cases a probation officer or correctional treatment specialist handles at one time depends on the needs of individuals under supervision and the risks associated with each individual. Higher risk probationers usually command more of an officer’s time and resources. Caseload size also varies by agency.

Technological advancements—such as improved tests for drug screening and electronic devices to monitor clients—help probation officers and correctional treatment specialists supervise and counsel probationers.

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How To Become A Probation Officer

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists usually need a bachelor’s degree. In addition, most employers require candidates to pass competency exams, drug testing, and a criminal background check.

A valid driver’s license is often required, and most agencies require applicants to be at least 21 years old.

Education

A bachelor’s degree in social work, criminal justice, behavioral sciences, or a related field is usually required. Some employers require a master’s degree in a related field. Exact requirements will vary by jurisdiction.

Training

Most probation officers and correctional treatment specialists must complete a training program sponsored by their state government or the federal government, after which they may have to pass a certification test. In addition, they may be required to work as trainees for up to 1 year before being offered a permanent position.

Some probation officers and correctional treatment specialists specialize in a certain type of casework. For example, an officer may work only with domestic violence probationers or deal only with substance abuse cases. Some may work only cases involving juvenile offenders. Officers receive the appropriate specific training so that they are better prepared to help that type of probationer. Training may include site visits to probationers’ homes under the watch of a probation officer supervisor.

Other Experience

Although job requirements vary, previous work experience in probation, pretrial services, parole, corrections, criminal investigations, substance abuse treatment, social work, or counseling can be helpful in the hiring process.

Previous experience working in courthouses or with probationers in the criminal justice field can also be useful for some positions.

Advancement

Advancement to supervisory positions is primarily based on experience and performance. A master’s degree in criminal justice, social work, or psychology may be required for advancement.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists must be able to effectively interact with many different people, such as probationers and their family members, lawyers, judges, treatment providers, and law enforcement.

Critical-thinking skills. Workers must be able to assess the needs of individual probationers before determining the best resources for helping them.

Decisionmaking skills. Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists must consider the relative costs and benefits of potential actions and be able to choose appropriately.

Emotional stability. Workers must cope with hostile individuals or otherwise upsetting circumstances on the job.

Organizational skills. Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists must be able to manage multiple cases at the same time.

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Probation Officer jobs

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Probation Officer Demographics

Gender

Female

56.7%

Male

41.2%

Unknown

2.1%
Ethnicity

White

81.2%

Hispanic or Latino

11.2%

Asian

5.7%

Unknown

1.2%

Black or African American

0.6%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

77.4%

French

5.7%

Arabic

3.1%

German

2.5%

Russian

1.9%

Vietnamese

1.3%

Japanese

1.3%

Dakota

1.3%

Tagalog

1.3%

Polish

1.3%

Urdu

0.6%

Cherokee

0.6%

Hindi

0.6%

Shan

0.6%

Thai

0.6%
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Probation Officer Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

16.4%

Capella University

8.7%

University of Cincinnati

7.6%

Troy University

6.6%

Liberty University

6.0%

Walden University

5.1%

Grand Canyon University

5.1%

Florida State University

4.2%

Ball State University

4.0%

Valdosta State University

3.6%

Strayer University

3.6%

Virginia Commonwealth University

3.4%

Kennesaw State University

3.4%

Webster University

3.2%

Georgia State University

3.2%

American InterContinental University

3.2%

University of Central Florida

3.2%

Georgia Southern University

3.2%

Kaplan University

3.2%

Ashford University

3.0%
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Majors

Criminal Justice

41.7%

Social Work

7.4%

Psychology

7.3%

Business

6.5%

Sociology

6.2%

School Counseling

3.3%

Public Administration

3.1%

Law

3.1%

Counseling Psychology

3.1%

Criminology

2.8%

Human Services

2.8%

Education

2.1%

Political Science

1.9%

Mental Health Counseling

1.6%

Management

1.6%

Human Resources Management

1.4%

Legal Support Services

1.2%

Communication

1.0%

Elementary Education

0.9%

Liberal Arts

0.9%
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Degrees

Bachelors

46.1%

Masters

33.4%

Other

8.6%

Associate

4.7%

Doctorate

4.0%

Certificate

2.7%

Diploma

0.3%

License

0.2%
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Top Skills for A Probation Officer

AdultOffendersCaseloadAdultProbationersCommunitySupervisionCourtOrdersLawEnforcementAgenciesArrestWarrantsMentalHealthIssuesSubstanceAbuseTreatmentIntakeCommunityServiceCourtHearingsGuidelinesRandomDrugScreensDomesticViolenceSexOffendersCommunityResourcesEnsureComplianceRevocationHearingsCommunityAgencies

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Top Probation Officer Skills

  1. Adult Offenders
  2. Caseload
  3. Adult Probationers
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Supervised adult offenders to monitor compliance with court ordered conditions.
  • Administered caseloads for 200 defendants concurrently.
  • Supervised a case load of over 200 adult probationers convicted of misdemeanor and felony offenses.
  • Provide community supervision for clients.
  • Coordinated needed services and programs for clients to ensure compliance with court orders.

Top Probation Officer Employers

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Probation Officer Videos

Video evidence of Probation Officer Vertlieb committing perjury to send me back to jail

Parole and Probation Officers--A Day in the Life

A Day in the Life of a Correctional Officer

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