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Probation Officers picture    Probation Officers image

Probation Officers

At the end of 2012, there were 6.94 million Americans being supervised by the correctional system. However, around 3.94 million offenders were supervised within their own communities, either on probation or parole.

Probation officers oversee offenders sentenced to probation (individuals who fulfill the conditions of sentences given by the court) and parolees (individuals released from prison that are required to serve parole board ordered sentences). Sometimes offenders are given probation instead of jail time or additional jail time. The parole or probation environment allows offenders to provide community service and enables them to live with their families. Creating an effective and safe probation environment is the job of probation officers.

Probation officers generally oversee 20 to 100 cases at once -- the number varies by jurisdiction. Higher risk cases require much more time.

Related positions include:

  • Parole officers: similar to probation officers, parole officers help those who have been recently released from prison transition back into society.
  • Correctional treatment specialists: also known as case managers or correctional counselors, these specialists counsel offenders and provide supervision or rehabilitation plans
  • Pretrial services officers: these individuals conduct pretrial investigations that aid in sentencing, supervision and rehabilitation plans for offenders

Additionally, duties may vary depending on whether the position is at the local, state or federal level.

Various Job Titles of Probation Officers

 

Correctional Counselor Parole Officer
Juvenile Probation Officer Parole Agent
Deputy Juvenile Officer Correctional Probation Officer
Probation Counselor Correctional Casework Specialist
Juvenile Correctional Officer Pretrial services officers

Job Characteristics

A Probation Officer

Probation officers -- also known as community supervision officers -- strive to regenerate their clients. They meet with their clients on a regular basis to evaluate their progress and check their activities. Probation officers help their clients rehabilitate by offering them counseling and helping them acquire education, housing and a job. They usually work in juvenile, adult or family divisions of probation departments.

A probation officer also has the task of writing pre-sentence reports for judges. The reports are based on investigative work of the offender's background. They sometimes give testimonies at parole board and pretrial hearings in order to provide clarification for the reports. They also investigate violations of court-ordered sentences.

Probation officers provide reports to the courts regarding their client's behavior. This entails maintaining constant personal contact with the offender and their families; assisting them in locating resources for employment, education, or therapy; providing counseling to offenders and their families; and monitoring their whereabouts using electronic tracking devices.

A Parole Officer

A parole officer should have strong written and verbal communication skills in order to write precise pre-sentence reports and to argue them in a courtroom. They need to be able to deal with people from a variety of backgrounds. The job is sometimes stressful due to large caseloads. Parole officers often visit jails, courts and prisons. They also visit the work settings and residences of their clients. These officers work 40 hours per week but sometimes are required to work overtime.

A Correctional Treatment Specialist

Correctional treatment specialists work in jails and prisons or in parole or probation agencies. Those that work in jails and prisons evaluate the inmates' progress. They also collaborate with others to develop parole and release plans. Correctional treatment personnel also develop educational and training programs to provide job skills. They also provide counseling and other services. Correctional treatment specialists may also be known as case managers or drug treatment specialists.

Responsibilities

  • Supervise offenders that have been released from incarceration
  • Supervise and investigate defendants who have not yet been sentenced to a term of incarceration
  • Develop and maintain a case folder for each offender
  • Collect information about offender's background
  • Write reports regarding offender's progress
  • Develop rehabilitation programs for clients
  • Inform offenders of requirements of conditional release
  • Recommend remedial actions or begin court actions if offenders have not complied with the terms of probation or parole
  • Arrange for mental health, medical and substance abuse treatment services
  • Arrange for employment, education, housing, counseling and other services

Probation Officer Career Outlook

Because the work of a probation officer can often come with considerable stress, risk and relatively low pay, the number of available positions generally exceeds the amount of interested, qualified applicants. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment for probation officers will actually decrease -1 percent during the decade leading up to 2022.

According to the BLS, annual mean wages for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists averaged out to $48,440 in 2013, although the top ten percent of these professionals earned a mean wage of $84,160. The BLS reported that the three states with the highest annual mean wages for probation officers were:

  • California: $76,540
  • Connecticut: $75,530
  • New Jersey: $74,470

 

Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists, Median annual wages, May 2012

Probation Officer salaries

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012

Major Employers

  • State and local governments
  • Office of the U.S. District Court

Probation Officer Training

Probation officers are typically required to have a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, social work, psychology or a related subject. For candidates that do not have related experience, some employers seek those with a master's degree. What counts as related experience varies by employers. Some types of related experience are pretrial services, probation, corrections, criminal investigations, parole, counseling, social work and substance abuse treatment. Typically, candidates need to pass oral, written and psychological examinations. Those that have been convicted of felonies may not be eligible for employment in the occupation.

Most probation officers and some correctional treatment specialists must complete a training program sponsored by the Federal government or their State government. After the training program has been completed they may have to take a certification test. Typically, probation officers and correctional treatment specialists have to work as trainees or in a probationary period for up to a year before they are offered a permanent job.

Training Requirements

  1. A Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice, Psychology or a related field
  2. In some situations, prior professional experience in such fields as corrections, criminal investigations, counseling, social work or other probation or pretrial services positions
  3. A state or federal government-sponsored training program for correctional specialists, followed by experience as a trainee or apprentice for up to one year
  4. Rigorous written, oral and physical examinations to ensure candidates are in excellent physical and emotional shape

Of course, a significant amount of probation officer training also takes place on the job.

Additional requirements for probation officers include:

  • Must be at least 21 years old but; for federal positions, not older than 37
  • No record of felony convictions
  • Completion of a successful background check and lie detector test
  • Hold a valid driver's license

Because of the amount of administrative work involved in this position, excellent communications skills are a must, as are an understanding of the law, familiarity with computers and strong interpersonal skills. Promotions and salary increases are generally earned through solid, consistent performance on the job, breadth of experience and, in some cases, advanced degrees in Criminal Justice, Social Work, Psychology or a related subject.

Resources for Probation Officers

Sources:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition," Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/probation-officers-and-correctional-treatment-specialists.htm#tab-1

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, "Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013," Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists, April 1, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211092.htm

"Total U.S. Correctional Population Declined in 2012 for Fourth Year," Bureau of Justice Statistics, http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/press/cpus12pr.cfm

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for:
Probation Officers Training and Career Information

Listed below are metro areas sorted by the total number of people employed in Probation Officers Training and Career Information jobs , as of 2015

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

     
Metro Area (Alabama) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Birmingham 220 $48,000
Hoover 220 $48,000
Mobile 120 $36,470
Huntsville 80 $38,750
Tuscaloosa 40 $42,770
Auburn 30 $39,540
Opelika 30 $39,540
Decatur N/A $39,680
     
Metro Area (Alaska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anchorage 170 $61,160
     
Metro Area (Arizona) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Mesa 1350 $58,990
Scottsdale 1350 $58,990
Phoenix 1350 $58,990
Tucson 250 $44,460
Flagstaff 130 $43,770
Yuma 80 $49,140
Lake Havasu City 50 $45,620
Kingman 50 $45,620
     
Metro Area (Arkansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Conway 230 $36,290
North Little Rock 230 $36,290
Little Rock 230 $36,290
Pine Bluff 90 $38,730
     
Metro Area (California) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anaheim 3650 $84,680
Long Beach 3650 $84,680
Los Angeles 3650 $84,680
Ontario 1120 $77,080
Riverside 1120 $77,080
San Bernardino 1120 $77,080
Hayward 930 $83,640
San Francisco 930 $83,640
Oakland 930 $83,640
Arcade 870 $97,330
Sacramento 870 $97,330
Roseville 870 $97,330
Arden 870 $97,330
Bakersfield 620 $84,620
Lodi 400 $86,690
Stockton 400 $86,690
Fresno 350 $75,040
Merced 60 $73,690
San Diego N/A $95,450
Carlsbad N/A $95,450
     
Metro Area (Colorado) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Denver 1010 $54,610
Aurora 1010 $54,610
Lakewood 1010 $54,610
Fort Collins 310 $51,350
Colorado Springs 280 $53,370
Grand Junction 120 $50,800
Greeley 120 $53,400
Boulder 80 $61,410
     
Metro Area (Florida) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Miami 980 $40,020
Fort Lauderdale 980 $40,020
West Palm Beach 980 $40,020
Jacksonville 230 $37,100
Tallahassee 180 $36,960
Brent 150 $37,800
Ferry Pass 150 $37,800
Pensacola 150 $37,800
North Port 140 $37,910
Bradenton 140 $37,910
Sarasota 140 $37,910
Orlando N/A $37,850
Kissimmee N/A $37,850
Sanford N/A $37,850
     
Metro Area (Georgia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Sandy Springs 1300 $35,420
Atlanta 1300 $35,420
Roswell 1300 $35,420
Savannah 140 $34,980
Macon 130 $33,950
Dalton 100 $31,610
Valdosta 70 $34,350
Athens 50 $35,380
Clarke County 50 $35,380
Rome 50 $35,540
Brunswick 40 $35,300
     
Metro Area (Idaho) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Boise City 220 $38,030
Pocatello 70 $39,420
Coeur d'Alene 50 $39,490
Idaho Falls 50 $41,000
     
Metro Area (Illinois) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Peoria 70 $52,850
Urbana N/A $66,750
Champaign N/A $66,750
     
Metro Area (Indiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Carmel 920 $35,640
Indianapolis 920 $35,640
Anderson 920 $35,640
Fort Wayne 100 $40,230
Terre Haute 90 $23,850
Goshen 80 $42,410
Elkhart 80 $42,410
Bloomington 70 $44,450
Lafayette 40 $44,240
West Lafayette 40 $44,240
     
Metro Area (Iowa) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Des Moines 170 $68,540
Des Moines 170 $68,540
     
Metro Area (Kansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Wichita 220 $38,560
Topeka 70 $38,440
     
Metro Area (Kentucky) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Fayette 70 $37,570
Lexington 70 $37,570
     
Metro Area (Louisiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Metairie 230 $46,510
New Orleans 230 $46,510
Lafayette 140 $40,580
Baton Rouge 140 $44,290
Monroe 130 $44,270
Bossier City 100 $45,730
Shreveport 100 $45,730
Alexandria 60 $41,930
     
Metro Area (Maine) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
South Portland 150 $35,870
Portland 150 $35,870
     
Metro Area (Maryland) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Towson 1050 $55,460
Columbia 1050 $55,460
Baltimore 1050 $55,460
     
Metro Area (Michigan) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dearborn 1000 $63,860
Detroit 1000 $63,860
Warren 1000 $63,860
Wyoming 290 $63,450
Grand Rapids 290 $63,450
Lansing 150 $62,710
East Lansing 150 $62,710
Portage 100 $63,130
Kalamazoo 100 $63,130
Ann Arbor 80 $63,860
Saginaw 70 $63,860
Battle Creek 50 $60,500
     
Metro Area (Minnesota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
St. Cloud 80 $62,130
     
Metro Area (Mississippi) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Jackson 70 $28,920
     
Metro Area (Missouri) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Springfield 170 $36,270
     
Metro Area (Nevada) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Paradise 560 $57,960
Henderson 560 $57,960
Las Vegas 560 $57,960
Reno 110 $58,170
     
Metro Area (New Jersey) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Trenton 360 $78,930
     
Metro Area (New Mexico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Albuquerque 250 $41,890
Las Cruces 60 $40,030
Santa Fe 50 $40,020
     
Metro Area (New York) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Rochester 330 $58,360
Cheektowaga 330 $59,770
Buffalo 330 $59,770
Niagara Falls 330 $59,770
Albany 280 $65,490
Schenectady 280 $65,490
Troy 280 $65,490
Utica 160 $69,220
Rome 160 $69,220
Syracuse 150 $68,250
Fort Drum 70 $64,740
Watertown 70 $64,740
Binghamton 50 $56,720
Glens Falls 50 $60,090
     
Metro Area (North Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
High Point 200 $38,590
Greensboro 200 $38,590
Salem 160 $40,370
Winston 160 $40,370
Durham 150 $38,560
Chapel Hill 150 $38,560
Fayetteville 120 $38,560
     
Metro Area (Ohio) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Columbus 590 $46,350
Cleveland 520 $51,450
Elyria 520 $51,450
Dayton 220 $44,850
Toledo 210 $46,070
Massillon 60 $52,050
Canton 60 $52,050
Lima 50 $53,980
Mansfield 40 $48,640
Akron N/A $44,100
     
Metro Area (Oklahoma) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Oklahoma City 540 $36,560
Tulsa 140 $34,520
     
Metro Area (Oregon) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salem 350 $52,790
Redmond 90 $55,490
Bend 90 $55,490
     
Metro Area (Pennsylvania) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Pittsburgh 520 $55,080
Harrisburg 370 $52,340
Carlisle 370 $52,340
Reading 190 $64,340
Erie 150 $50,280
Hazleton 150 $63,900
Barre 150 $63,900
Wilkes 150 $63,900
Scranton 150 $63,900
     
Metro Area (Puerto Rico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Caguas 570 $31,900
Carolina 570 $31,900
San Juan 570 $31,900
     
Metro Area (South Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Rapid City 140 $37,830
     
Metro Area (Tennessee) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Murfreesboro 590 $38,990
Franklin 590 $38,990
Davidson 590 $38,990
Nashville 590 $38,990
Knoxville 210 $35,430
Johnson City 60 $32,800
     
Metro Area (Texas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Arlington 2140 $43,270
Dallas 2140 $43,270
Fort Worth 2140 $43,270
The Woodlands 1690 $42,490
Sugar Land 1690 $42,490
Houston 1690 $42,490
Austin 580 $43,500
Round Rock 580 $43,500
San Antonio 440 $40,570
New Braunfels 440 $40,570
Corpus Christi 200 $37,670
Beaumont 180 $40,810
Port Arthur 180 $40,810
Amarillo 120 $40,320
Tyler 120 $46,020
Abilene 100 $39,510
Temple 80 $38,910
Killeen 80 $38,910
Waco 80 $40,200
Longview 70 $38,950
Laredo 60 $38,750
San Angelo 50 $39,150
McAllen 40 $39,620
Mission 40 $39,620
Edinburg 40 $39,620
Bryan N/A $37,240
College Station N/A $37,240
     
Metro Area (Utah) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salt Lake City 250 $46,770
     
Metro Area (Vermont) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
South Burlington 70 $59,780
Burlington 70 $59,780
     
Metro Area (Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Richmond 540 $41,300
Lynchburg 90 $37,460
Roanoke 90 $42,140
Charlottesville 70 $38,760
Waynesboro 50 $37,970
Staunton 50 $37,970
Blacksburg 30 $42,340
Radford 30 $42,340
Christiansburg 30 $42,340
     
Metro Area (Washington) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bellevue 800 $55,130
Tacoma 800 $55,130
Seattle 800 $55,130
Spokane 230 $53,760
Spokane Valley 230 $53,760
Richland 170 $50,580
Kennewick 170 $50,580
Yakima 70 $53,760
Bellingham 50 N/A
Silverdale 50 $56,490
Bremerton 50 $56,490
Wenatchee 40 $53,760
     
Metro Area (West Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Charleston 140 $41,090
     
Metro Area (Wisconsin) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Milwaukee 390 $50,990
Waukesha 390 $50,990
West Allis 390 $50,990
Madison 140 $47,940
Green Bay 70 $46,290
Oshkosh 60 $49,950
Neenah 60 $49,950
Beloit 60 $50,700
Janesville 60 $50,700
Appleton 50 $49,260

Career Stories (Job Profiles) for Probation Officers Training and Career Information

To find out more about building a career as Probation Officers, we spoke with professionals in the field across a variety of specialties. Learn about their experiences on the job, the steps they took to complete their education, and what it takes to excel in this industry. Click the link to see a story.

All Types

Most Popular Industries for :
Probation Officers Training and Career Information

Industries representing at least 1% of total jobs for the occupation.

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Industry Jobs Percent Annual Median Salary
Government 93,770 96% $46,510
Social Service 1,520 1% $29,810
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