There are different types of jobs available in law enforcement and the judicial system. One of these jobs is that of a probation officer. Probation officer jobs can be either at state or federal levels. This article provides helpful information on how you can get a job as a probation officer.
Probation officers can be classified into three categories based on the position they hold in the penal system, with subtle differences in their duties and responsibilities, as follows:
(a) Probation officers or community supervision officers who supervise offenders who are sentenced to probation or community service instead of imprisonment;
(b) Correctional treatment specialists (CTS) who work with convicts who’ve completed their mandated period of incarceration; and
(c) Parole officers who work with prisoners released early on parole for good behavior, commutation of sentence or other reasons.
- Supervise offenders – adult and juvenile – who are placed on probation or sentenced to community service instead of imprisonment, usually for first-time or minor offences such as DUI, etc.
- Make personal visits to the offender’s office or home to monitor daily movements, behavior, etc; primarily as a deterrence against the offender committing a repeat crime.
- Arrange for guidance or counseling services with respect to job searches, family problems or in overcoming addictions that were responsible for the offence initially.
- Make regular reports to the sentencing court as to how the probationary period is proceeding and make recommendations on increasing or reducing the probation or stricter punishment for offenders who are violating probation conditions.
Educational qualifications & training
The minimum educational qualification required to become a probation officer is a bachelor’s degree, preferably in disciplines such as psychology, criminal justice, social work, etc. Additionally, special training and certification requirements must be complied with, depending on the employer’s requirements. The probation officer must also complete physical, oral, written and psychological evaluations, because of the particular nature of the job. The probation officer is not only a supervisor, but also a counselor and a policeman.
Additional skills required for a probation officer’s job include first aid, carrying and using firearms, preparing reports and evaluations, basic technical knowledge in systems, tracking devices and other technologies used in law enforcement.
Probation officers usually spend one year as trainee probation officers and pass a certification test, before confirmation of employment.
Availability of jobs, compensation & career growth
Openings for probation officer jobs are usually in the federal or state governments, under the aegis of the prevalent penal enforcement or judicial authorities. As is the case with most government jobs, the number of openings is dependent on available funding and quite often, probation officers already in the system carry heavy workloads because of hiring restrictions.
Average compensation for probation officers ranges between $30,000 and $40,000. Though higher than the salaries paid to prison officers, the income is significantly lower when compared to other jobs in the legal system. Career advancement is driven by the number of years in service or by securing additional educational qualifications such as a master’s degree; luckily, online schools now offer advanced degrees in criminal justice.
With this, you should get a fair idea of how to go about getting a job as a probation officer.