How to Become a Probation Officer
Want to make a difference to the lives of those people who want a second chance? If so, then you might like to become a probation officer. A probation officer, sometimes called a correctional treatment worker, works with those who have been recently released from prison assimilate into society. They also work closely with them to make sure they stay out of trouble. A probation officer often works with convicted criminals who did not receive a jail sentence but have been placed on probation or a suspended sentenced instead.
When you become a probation officer, you'll need strong communication skills. You'll also need to have the kind of demeanor that your clients will respect. You must have excellent attention to detail and be very thorough with paperwork.
Education Requirements to Become a Probation Officer
Probation officers are employed by federal and state branches of law enforcement agencies. In most places you must be 21 years old and have a driver's license. You will also need to mass medical, psychological, and physical screening tests. In federal branches you cannot be older than 37 to start working as a probation officer.
In most states, you will be required to have a bachelors degree in criminal justice, social work, psychology or a similar area to become a probation officer. A few employers will require that you have a masters degree in criminal justice.
Some employers will accept work experience in the place of a college degree. For instance, an applicant for the role of probation officer with experience as a police officer, corrections officer, or work within the legal system may be deemed eligible for the role.
To find out more about a career as a probation officer, take a look at the American Probation and Parole Association website.
Probation Officer Job Description
A probation officer supervises a person who has been released into society on the premise of parole or probation. They have often been recently released from prison, or may have been found guilty of a crime but not given a sentence.
A person must meet the rules of their probation. This means usually that they cannot leave the state, and may not be able to work in certain industries. They will often need to live in specialized housing in some cases. Sometimes they must wear an electronic monitoring device. Those found guilty of particular crimes may need to have extra measures attached to their parole, for instance not be within proximity of a school.
It is the role of a probation officer to make sure a person on parole meets these conditions by meeting with their client on a regular basis. It may be once a week, or even a few times a week.
Some probation officers work closely with the courts, and make recommendations on sentencing. After a trial, they will communicate with the offender and their family and will write a sentencing report and submit this to the judge. They will also provide counseling to the accused as per their sentencing.
Some probation officers also help prisoners released from jail assimilate back into society. They will meet with them regularly, and help them to make goals for their new life, and action plans on how to achieve things. They will help them to find work and housing, and stay with them through the process of adjustment.
In the correctional system, a probation officer often monitors the progress of a prisoner who may be having a parole hearing soon. They will interview the prisoner and perform varied tests, and then make a recommendation to the parole board which will include their opinion on to whether the prisoner is ready to be released.
Probation Officer Salary and Career Path
Some probation officer work in other areas of law enforcement before they take on this role. Others start after finishing a college degree. Some go on to management positions within corrections while others go on to work in law enforcement or social welfare.
The average earnings for a probation officer is about $45,000 a year. Employment is very secure, and growth is anticipated in this field.
Some similar roles to that of probation officer you might be interested in include:
- Police officer
- Corrections officer
- Social Worker
- Life Coach
When you become a probation officer you are, no doubt, up for a challenging role. However, you also have opportunity to give a second chance to someone that many people would turn their back on.
*Salary Information provided by the Bureau Of Labor Statistics