Probation Officer Job Description & Career Outlook
The job of a probation officer is to supervise people who are sentenced to probation by the court. Their ultimate goal is to assist with the rehabilitation of their clients, so they work closely with law enforcement, social services, and other agencies so that they can help their clients receive what they need to be successful (e.g., education and training, counseling, job placement, housing).
A probation officer has many responsibilities. In addition to working directly with his or her assigned clients, a probation officer must prepare detailed reports for the court. They may be asked to investigate an offender and give information to the judge about his/her background, so that the judge can administer an appropriate sentence. While they are supervising their clients, they may conduct random drug tests, monitor their whereabouts, and conduct interviews with family, friends, and employers. In short, they do everything possible to ensure that their clients are complying with the conditions of their probation.
Become a Probation Officer – Requirements & Education
Typically, probation officers work for the state. They usually must have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, sociology, psychology, or a related field. For federal positions or for more advanced positions, a candidate should have a master’s degree in one of those fields, social work, or counseling.
Besides their formal education, a probation office must possess a variety of “people skills”. They should be able to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing. They must be able to work well with a variety of people. Probation officers typically have a large caseload, so they should be able to handle the stress that goes along with that.
Probation Officer Salary & Benefits
The salary for a probation officer varies significantly, depending on the location. For example, probation officers in large cities usually earn more than those in rural areas. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a median salary of $48,190 per year for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists.1 If probation officers work at the federal level, they will earn at the upper end of the range. Further, chief probation officers who have a graduate degree or hold a supervisory position can earn a higher salary. Because probation officers are government employees, they usually also receive a benefits package that includes health and life insurance, paid vacation, and a retirement plan.
Probation Officer Career Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates an employment decrease of 1% for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists for the decade from 2012-2022.1 However, jobs will come available due to employees leaving for retirement or other reasons.
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Interested in a career similar to a probation officer? Check out these related careers:
- Corrections Officer
- Correctional Treatment Specialist
- Juvenile Probation Officer
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1. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/probation-officers-and-correctional-treatment-specialists.htm
Page Edited by Charles Sipe.