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, Lancaster, Ontario, Visalia

San Joaquin Valley College - A Private Junior College.

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

Pursue your education at Ohio Christian University.

  • Programs: Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Degrees: Bachelor
Argosy University
Los Angeles, Ontario, Orange, Phoenix, San Diego

Welcome to Argosy University

Argosy University offers doctoral, master's, and bachelor's degree programs to students through its eight colleges:  College of Behavioral Sciences, Graduate School of Business and Management, College of Education,  College of Health Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Creative Arts and Design, College of Clinical Psychology and Western State College of Law at Argosy University as well as certificate programs in many areas.

  • Programs: Criminal Justice (BS), Criminal Justice (BS) (Online)
  • Degrees: Bachelor

Recognized by the U.S. News and World Report for: Best Online Programs, Bachelor’s 2017, Best Online Programs, Grad Education 2017 and Best Online Programs, Bachelor’s for Veterans 2017

  • Programs: Behavioral Crime Analysis (Certificate) - Online, Criminal Justice (Doctorate) - Online, Behavioral Crime Analysis Certificate, more...
  • Degrees: Certificate, Doctorate
Institute of Technology
Clovis, Modesto

You can get started on a new career with Institute of Technology.

For more information about our graduation rates, the median debt of students who completed the program, and other important information, please visit our website at www.iot.edu/disclosure

  • Programs: Criminology and Emergency Response Management
  • Degrees: Associate

Grantham University's 100% accredited online degrees are convenient, portable and designed so you can fit education into your life instead of arranging life around your education.

  • Programs: Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Degrees: Bachelor, Associate
Platt College
Alhambra, Anaheim, Ontario, Riverside

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

  • Programs: Criminal Justice
  • Degrees: Associate

For over 35 years, Keiser University has provided student-centered, quality career education. Keiser University Online offers degree programs online to prepare students for in-demand professions.

  • Programs: Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Degrees: Bachelor

Pursue a certificate, master, or doctorate degree in Psychology at The Chicago School for Professional Psychology.

  • Programs: M.A. Forensic Psychology, Psy.D. Clinical Forensic Psychology
  • Degrees: Master, Doctorate

Earn your graduate degree online with Northcentral University.

  • Programs: Criminal Justice - D.B.A., Homeland Security Leadership & Policy - D.B.A., MS Organizational Leadership - Criminal Justice, more...
  • Degrees: Doctorate, 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
SPEAK TO AN ADVISOR 1.844.285.6104