dcsimg

Career Story: Probation Officer For A State Corrections Agency

Probation Officer For A State Corrections Agency

Job Title: Probation Officer

Type of Company: I work for the Virginia Department of Corrections, Community Corrections Division, and we monitor probationers or parolees.

Education: Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Science in Education and Counseling

Previous Experience: I worked as a social worker in child protective services for six years after college and during that period earned my Master's degree. I then worked as a case manager for a health practitioners' monitoring program for three years. I then worked as a counselor in a private counseling firm for another three years. I left that to work for the state again because I needed the benefits.

Job Tasks: I monitor a caseload of approximately 70 people convicted of felonies who have been released to the community. On average, we see them in the office once per month and call some in randomly for drug screenings. We make random field visits to verify their residence and employment. We speak with their families, friends, and employers, and work with community agencies to get them help, so that they won't feel the need to break the law to get their basic needs met. I am frequently in court for violation hearings and to present pre-sentencing reports that we prepare for the courts. These are background investigations that the judges order when defendants are convicted but before they've been sentenced. That way, when a person does get sentenced, the judge knows something about them: about their work history, education, family history, physical history, economic situation, and a substance abuse and mental health screening.

I also prepare sentencing guidelines for the judges, which assign numbers to situations and go into a mathematical formula to show the judges how all the judges across the state might sentence a person in that situation. We try to keep our probationers out of jail, in the community and working, because that is usually what is best for the community. If someone continues to get into trouble, we issue warrants and have them incarcerated.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best parts of the job are the variety -- it is never boring -- and my coworkers. I really enjoy their personalities and how we all support each other. I also like balancing desk work, field work, and court, even though sometimes it gets overwhelming.

The worst parts of the job involve times when probationers get into big trouble, or when several people mess up at the same time. Also, the pay is very low.

Job Tips: This is not a generally the right job for people right out of college. Probation officers have a lot of responsibility and the more life experience you have going into it, the better prepared you are to relate to the probationers' situations without judging them but while objectively assessing community safety. Also, you have to be very professional in court, and recognize that judges will sometimes agree with your recommendations and sometimes won't. Either way, you are their eyes and ears in the community and you need to present the information well in court.

Additional Thoughts: I thought when I left counseling and returned to case management, that I would be bored and less challenged intellectually. I am happy to say that I was wrong, and this job presents new and interesting challenges every day. The further I've gotten into my career, the more my priorities have changed.They're less about salary and job title now than about the ability to enjoy my work while balancing family life.

Popular Schools offering Corrections Programs

quickinfoThese schools offer particularly quick info upon request, and we have written detailed profiles for each (click school names to see the profiles).

Request info from multiple schools, by clicking the Request Info links.

Matching School Ads
San Joaquin Valley College
Bakersfield, Hesperia, Lancaster, Ontario, Salida, Visalia

San Joaquin Valley College - A Private Junior College.

  • Programs: Degree - Criminal Justice: Corrections
  • Degrees: Associate

Discover the Difference a Community of Support Makes in Your Educational Journey. From Application to Graduation, the Support You Need to Achieve Your Goals. 100% Online.

  • Programs: BA in Criminal Justice/Institutional and Community-Based Corrections, BA in Criminal Justice, AA in Criminal Justice, more...
  • Degrees: Bachelor, Associate

Complete Your Bachelor's Degree 100% Online

  • Programs: BS in Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • Degrees: Bachelor

Baker College is proud to be the largest independent college in Michigan with the most focused approach to education and training available. With one of the highest graduate employment rates in the country, our mission is to help our students find meaningful employment.

  • Programs: Criminal Justice - Bachelor, Law Enforcement Academy (Police) - Bachelor
  • Degrees: Bachelor

For over 35 years, Keiser University has maintained a practical, hands-on approach to career education to help our students achieve their personal and professional goals. 

  • Programs: Master of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Degrees: Master
UEI College
Anaheim, Bakersfield, El Monte, Encino, Fresno, Gardena, Huntington Park, Ontario, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Marcos

At UEI College, we want you to succeed. We’re like a family and we want you to be a part of it.

  • Programs: Criminal Justice (9-Month Diploma Program)
  • Degrees: Diploma

Making the decision to earn your degree and pursue your career goals could be the best decision you ever make. Enroll at ECPI University and you’ll join a collaborative and fostering learning environment, surrounded by faculty and staff who are there to support you through the entire process.

 

  • Programs: Criminal Justice - Bachelor's
  • Degrees: Bachelor
Platt College
Alhambra, Anaheim, Ontario, Riverside

Turn your talents into a career at nationally recognized and accredited Platt College.

  • Programs: Criminal Justice
  • Degrees: Associate

Colorado State University-Global Campus

Colorado State University-Global Campus (CSU-Global) recently received state approval to enroll students with little to no prior college experience. To help ensure student success, the university has created a program especially for these students who plan on starting their college experience for the first time with us.

  • Programs: Master - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration
  • Degrees: Master

Work toward your degree online with University of Cincinnati Online.

  • Programs: Master of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Degrees: Master
Matching School Ads

Additional Career Stories for Probation Officers And Correctional Treatment Specialists

The inside stories from people actually working in the field.
Click a story title to show the story, and click the title again to hide it.

All Types

You are visiting:

Find a school near you

What are Career Stories?

Career Stories are concise, real-world career overviews written by people relating their personal career experiences and wisdom. They provide invaluable insights and mentoring advice to students and career changers.

Most stories include:

  • a typical day or project
  • tips and advice
  • best and worst parts
  • educational background
  • previous experience

Browse hundreds of Career Stories

Back to Top