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Career Story: State Court Probation Officer

State Court Probation Officer

Job Title: Probation Officer

Type of Company: I work for the state of Massachusetts in the judiciary branch of government.

Education: BA, Humanities and Social Sciences, UMass-Dartmouth •• MS, Criminal Justice, Bridgewater State College (Bridgewater, MA)

Previous Experience: I was an associate probation officer for six years.

Job Tasks: The job of a probation officer is to enforce court orders. A probation officer does that by making sure probationers follow their conditions of probation. Conditions of probation are ordered by the judge.

A probation officer is often assigned to the court room to record dispositions, make a copy of a defendant's criminal record available to the judge and to interview defendants to see if they qualify for court-appointed attorneys. A probation officer also works in the community visiting probationers at home, in schools, and at their places of employment. I have a working relationship with the district attorney's office, the bar association, judges police. I also have to work with court officers and deal with defendants who may be in custody.

I am assigned to a county and am supervised by an assistant chief probation officer and chief probation officer. I have an associate probation officer and case manager who help me with my caseload on a daily basis. I work from 8-4:30, no weekends and no holidays.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is being able to help people change their lives. Probation officers are able to work with a lot of wonderful people who believe in the criminal justice system and want to make it work. We also have to deal with a lot of drama on a daily basis. People have a lot of issues that bring them before the court and it's a probation officer's job to assist the judge in getting as much information as possible to help them in sentencing defendants.

Job Tips: A bachelor's degree in criminal justice or social work is helpful. It would also be helpful to do some internships in the court to help decide what division of the court you are most interested in -- whether the federal, district, probate or juvenile courts. A Master's degree is also highly recommended. Volunteer work is also a great resume builder. Having experience working in the community. You have to have a lot of people skills if you want to be a probation officer.

Additional Thoughts: Probation officers are not like parole or police officers. Probation work is a lot like social work.

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