Parole Officers are experienced professionals who supervise individuals who have recently been released from prison after serving a portion of or a complete prison sentence.
Commonly confused with Probation Officers, Parole Officers specifically work with individuals who have been incarcerated and assist them in adjusting and reentering society.
Individuals who want to become a Parole Officer will need a combination of educational requirements and personal characteristics in order to succeed in this profession.
Some highly recommended and sought after characteristics include having: communication skills, critical thinking skills and being able to work with individuals who come from a challenging background.
Education Requirements to Become a Parole Officer
Individuals who want to become a Parole Officer will need a combination of a postsecondary degree, pass a background test, certification and be over the age of 21 depending on their state in order to enter this profession.
A bachelor’s degree is sufficient when applying for jobs; however, individuals with a Master’s degree have better job opportunities.
Those just beginning their college career will need to focus their degree in the social sciences, criminal justice, social work, behavioral sciences or a closely related field in order to enter this profession.
Job prospects are better for individuals who have a Master’s degree in social work or a closely related field.
In addition to a postsecondary degree, individuals who want to become a Parole Officer may also have to complete a training program provided by their state government.
Passing a certification test after the program is also a requirement.
Typical tests include an oral, written and psychological portion.
In addition, many employers also require individuals to work as trainees for up to one year to gain on the job experience working with individuals who have been incarcerated.
Individuals also have the option to specialize in a particular type of case management.
For example, individuals can opt to work with individuals who have been incarcerated due to substance abuse or domestic violence offenses.
Individuals pursuing a specialization in case management will need to complete specialized training in order to gain the skills and to understand the type of offender they will monitor and assist.
Parole Officer Job Description
Parole Officers specifically work with individuals on parole who have been incarcerated and have been released because they completed a portion or all of their sentence.
Their goal is to help prevent released convicts from committing new crimes that may lead them back to prison.
Parole Officers will meet with an individual on their caseload and monitor them to determine their progress and help with adjusting to society.
Parole Officers will initially meet with and help them determine the best plan for rehabilitation.
Some of the following duties will apply to these professionals:
- Monitor and supervise a parolee’s progress
- Schedule regular meetings in person or by phone
- Provide resources to individuals such as GED and job training programs
- Monitor an individual’s job performance
- Order random drug testing
- Electronically monitor individuals
Parole Officers will constantly write reports regarding the individuals they monitor tracking their progress or obstacles in their rehabilitation plan.
Parole Officer Salary and Career Path
In 2012, the median salary for Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists was approximately $48,190 per year.
Exact wages will depend on a variety of factors including years of experience; some individuals working in this profession have reported incomes of up to $83,410 per year.
The job outlook for Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists is expected to decline and not add many job opportunities.
Through the year 2022, job opportunities are expected to decline by 1 percent creating little to no change in this profession.
This lack of growth is attributed to the lack of government funds being allocated to probation services.
However, individuals leaving this profession will create many job opening for individuals wanting to enter this profession.
Individuals interested in a career as a Parole Officer monitor a caseload of individuals who have been convicted of a crime and are being released from prison.
Their goal is to help previously incarcerated individuals reenter society and assist them in preventing new crimes.
Their job is extremely important in society and benefits the wellbeing of a community and state.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Parole Officer?
Parole officers help individuals who have been in prison reintegrate into society.
Sometimes, the parole board decides that a prisoner is ready to leave prison before their full sentence is complete.
Each parolee is assigned to a parole officer who will help him find a job, housing and counseling.
Parole officers work under the authority of the parole board and they usually have more cases than probation officers.
In order to be a good parole officer, you need skills in communication, critical-thinking and decision-making.
You also need to be organized and emotionally stable in order to be able to handle the workload.
How much does a Parole Officer make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual age for probation officers and correctional treatment workers was $53,020 in May of 2018.
The exact salary depends on a number of factors, including the officer’s experience and the number of overtime hours.
The top 10 percent earned more than $94,770 per year, while the bottom 10 percent earned less than $34,630.
How much does it cost to become a Parole Officer?
Parole officers usually need a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, social work or a related field.
Tuition costs vary depending on the college and the program you choose.
The average annual cost for a four-year social work program at a public institution is approximately $10,000 for in-state students.
After finishing college you may also have to complete a training program in this field funded by the state or federal government.
After finishing training you will have to pass a certification exam.
A master’s degree in criminal justice or a related field may also be required if you want to advance in your career.
What is the demand for Parole Officers?
Because community correction is, in some cases, a viable alternative to incarceration, the demand for parole officers is expected to grow in the future.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists is projected to grow 3% form 2018 to 2028.
The employment growth will, however, vary region by region and state by state, because it depends on the level of government spending and the amount allocated to probation and parole systems.
Job openings will also result because of people who leave this job due to stress.
Those who speak more than one language should have better chances of finding employment in this field.
How long does it take to become a Parole Officer?
Education requirements vary by jurisdiction but parole officers usually hold a four-year college degree in criminal justice, sociology or a related field.
Most agencies require applicants to be at least 21 years old in order to qualify for employment.
Most parole officers must complete a training program in their field and pass a certification test.
After being hired, they may be required to work one year as a trainee before being able to handle cases independently.