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).

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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.

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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.

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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. Usually, the salaries for probation officers range from approximately $27,000 to about $67,000 a year. 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 and are in a supervisor position, may earn from $72,000 to $100,000 annually. Because probation officers are government employees, they usually also have a benefits package that includes health and life insurance, paid vacation, and a retirement plan.

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Probation Officer Career Outlook

The job outlook for prospective probation officers is average. Although the number of people on probation that need supervising is increasing, the number of probation officers does not increase at the same rate. However, as more Probation Officers retire due to the baby boom, opportunities should increase.

Probation Officer Related Degrees & Programs from Accredited Schools

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University of Phoenix
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • M.S. in Psychology/Behavioral Health
  • M.S. in Psychology/Industrial- Organizational Psychology
  • B.S. in Psychology

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Walden University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • B.S. in Psychology Applied in the Workplace
  • B.S. in Psychology Preparation for Graduate Schools
  • M.S. in Psychology - Program Evaluation and Research

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Colorado Technical University Online
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice: Human Services

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Capella University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • PhD - Psychology
  • BS - Psychology
  • PhD - Addiction Psychology

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Keiser University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • Criminal Justice, BA
  • Criminal Justice, AA
  • Legal Studies, BA (Online)

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Grand Canyon University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • M.S. in Psychology: General Psychology
  • Ph.D. in General Psychology - Performance Psychology
  • Ph.D. in General Psychology - Integrating Technology, Learning, and Psychology

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Virginia College
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • MS - Criminal Justice
  • BS - Criminal Justice


Page Edited by Charles Sipe.