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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 2016

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2014-24 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com

     
Metro Area (Alabama) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Birmingham 240 $47,460
Hoover 240 $47,460
Huntsville 100 $36,760
Mobile 100 $39,110
Foley 40 $42,610
Fairhope 40 $42,610
Daphne 40 $42,610
Tuscaloosa 40 $43,520
Opelika 30 $39,980
Auburn 30 $39,980
     
Metro Area (Arizona) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Scottsdale 1440 $59,250
Mesa 1440 $59,250
Phoenix 1440 $59,250
Tucson 230 $45,680
Flagstaff 90 $44,510
Yuma 70 $49,870
Lake Havasu City 40 $46,760
Kingman 40 $46,760
     
Metro Area (Arkansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Conway 260 $37,760
North Little Rock 260 $37,760
Little Rock 260 $37,760
Pine Bluff 100 $38,660
     
Metro Area (California) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anaheim 3750 $85,810
Long Beach 3750 $85,810
Los Angeles 3750 $85,810
Riverside 1150 $78,160
San Bernardino 1150 $78,160
Ontario 1150 $78,160
Arden 940 $100,530
Roseville 940 $100,530
Sacramento 940 $100,530
Arcade 940 $100,530
Oakland 900 $86,420
San Francisco 900 $86,420
Hayward 900 $86,420
Carlsbad 700 $75,670
San Diego 700 $75,670
Fresno 370 $75,210
Madera 120 $90,070
Merced 60 $75,060
Santa Clara N/A $80,060
San Jose N/A $80,060
Sunnyvale N/A $80,060
     
Metro Area (Colorado) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lakewood 1000 $56,930
Denver 1000 $56,930
Aurora 1000 $56,930
Colorado Springs 280 $55,100
Fort Collins 220 $50,300
Grand Junction 120 $52,300
Boulder 100 $61,620
Pueblo 90 $54,390
     
Metro Area (Florida) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Palm Beach 1030 $39,450
Fort Lauderdale 1030 $39,450
Miami 1030 $39,450
St. Petersburg 580 $38,250
Tampa 580 $38,250
Clearwater 580 $38,250
Jacksonville 250 $36,390
Tallahassee 180 $37,240
Ferry Pass 150 $37,450
Brent 150 $37,450
Pensacola 150 $37,450
Bradenton 140 $37,870
North Port 140 $37,870
Sarasota 140 $37,870
Panama City 90 $36,630
Port St. Lucie 90 $37,650
Sanford N/A $37,270
Orlando N/A $37,270
Kissimmee N/A $37,270
     
Metro Area (Georgia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Sandy Springs 980 $37,380
Atlanta 980 $37,380
Roswell 980 $37,380
Dalton 90 $32,190
Macon 90 $35,260
Albany 70 $36,250
Clarke County 60 $38,760
Athens 60 $38,760
Valdosta 50 $36,170
Warner Robins 30 $35,620
     
Metro Area (Idaho) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Boise City 210 $39,100
Pocatello 80 $39,170
Coeur d'Alene 50 $39,020
Idaho Falls 50 $41,070
     
Metro Area (Illinois) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Champaign 110 $57,520
Urbana 110 $57,520
Rockford 90 $46,670
Peoria 70 $57,380
Decatur 40 $55,710
     
Metro Area (Indiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anderson 590 $45,190
Carmel 590 $45,190
Indianapolis 590 $45,190
Fort Wayne 110 $42,530
Goshen 90 $44,250
Elkhart 90 $44,250
Bloomington 60 $41,670
West Lafayette 50 $45,100
Lafayette 50 $45,100
Terre Haute 40 $47,000
     
Metro Area (Iowa) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Des Moines 140 $69,400
Des Moines 140 $69,400
     
Metro Area (Kansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Wichita 120 $38,420
Topeka 60 $38,410
     
Metro Area (Kentucky) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Fayette 70 $37,850
Lexington 70 $37,850
     
Metro Area (Louisiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
New Orleans 200 $49,250
Metairie 200 $49,250
Baton Rouge 130 $48,320
Lafayette 110 $42,790
Monroe 110 $46,300
Shreveport 100 $45,260
Bossier City 100 $45,260
Alexandria 60 $43,730
Houma 50 $48,810
Thibodaux 50 $48,810
     
Metro Area (Maine) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
South Portland 150 $39,610
Portland 150 $39,610
     
Metro Area (Maryland) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Towson 1020 $57,640
Columbia 1020 $57,640
Baltimore 1020 $57,640
     
Metro Area (Michigan) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Detroit 940 $65,130
Dearborn 940 $65,130
Warren 940 $65,130
Wyoming 290 $63,210
Grand Rapids 290 $63,210
East Lansing 130 $61,700
Lansing 130 $61,700
Portage 100 $60,640
Kalamazoo 100 $60,640
Ann Arbor 70 $65,130
Battle Creek 40 $61,410
     
Metro Area (Mississippi) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Jackson 100 $31,610
Pascagoula 70 $32,620
Gulfport 70 $32,620
Biloxi 70 $32,620
     
Metro Area (Missouri) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Springfield 160 $36,430
     
Metro Area (Nevada) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Paradise 590 $57,890
Henderson 590 $57,890
Las Vegas 590 $57,890
Reno 110 $57,750
     
Metro Area (New Jersey) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Trenton 340 $77,160
     
Metro Area (New Mexico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Albuquerque 390 $41,800
Santa Fe 60 $42,370
     
Metro Area (New York) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Rochester 340 $60,140
Cheektowaga 330 $60,500
Buffalo 330 $60,500
Niagara Falls 330 $60,500
Schenectady 300 $64,930
Troy 300 $64,930
Albany 300 $64,930
Syracuse 230 $68,870
Utica 160 $68,520
Rome 160 $68,520
Elmira 70 $71,150
Binghamton 50 $57,400
Glens Falls 50 $60,690
     
Metro Area (North Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
High Point 220 $38,560
Greensboro 220 $38,560
Raleigh 210 $38,560
Winston 160 $40,350
Salem 160 $40,350
Chapel Hill 150 $38,560
Durham 150 $38,560
Fayetteville 110 $38,560
     
Metro Area (Ohio) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Columbus 590 $46,710
Cleveland 490 $54,190
Elyria 490 $54,190
Dayton 220 $45,520
Toledo 220 $47,180
Massillon 70 $54,820
Canton 70 $54,820
Lima 50 $54,160
Mansfield 40 $48,900
Akron N/A $44,360
     
Metro Area (Oklahoma) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Oklahoma City 480 $35,590
Tulsa 200 $35,410
     
Metro Area (Oregon) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salem 350 $53,540
Redmond 90 $56,710
Bend 90 $56,710
     
Metro Area (Pennsylvania) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Pittsburgh 530 $56,120
Carlisle 370 $53,670
Harrisburg 370 $53,670
Reading 190 $65,590
Erie 170 $50,290
Hazleton 100 $59,990
Barre 100 $59,990
Wilkes 100 $59,990
Scranton 100 $59,990
     
Metro Area (South Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Rapid City 120 $42,050
     
Metro Area (Tennessee) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Franklin 510 $39,160
Murfreesboro 510 $39,160
Davidson 510 $39,160
Nashville 510 $39,160
Knoxville 210 $35,130
Johnson City 60 $32,330
     
Metro Area (Texas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dallas 2160 $44,890
Fort Worth 2160 $44,890
Arlington 2160 $44,890
Houston 1750 $44,770
Sugar Land 1750 $44,770
The Woodlands 1750 $44,770
Austin 670 $45,220
Round Rock 670 $45,220
New Braunfels 460 $43,840
San Antonio 460 $43,840
Beaumont 220 $44,650
Port Arthur 220 $44,650
Corpus Christi 200 $39,550
Amarillo 130 $43,310
Tyler 120 $48,120
Abilene 100 $43,040
Waco 100 $43,890
Killeen 80 $42,700
Temple 80 $42,700
Longview 70 $41,140
San Angelo 50 $43,320
Midland 40 $40,410
College Station N/A $39,020
Bryan N/A $39,020
McAllen N/A $45,220
Mission N/A $45,220
Edinburg N/A $45,220
     
Metro Area (Utah) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salt Lake City 270 $46,940
     
Metro Area (Vermont) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
South Burlington 70 $59,100
Burlington 70 $59,100
     
Metro Area (Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Richmond 550 $42,440
Lynchburg 90 $37,660
Roanoke 90 $42,200
Charlottesville 80 $40,170
Staunton 40 $39,150
Waynesboro 40 $39,150
Blacksburg 30 $43,020
Radford 30 $43,020
Christiansburg 30 $43,020
     
Metro Area (Washington) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bellevue 800 $56,470
Tacoma 800 $56,470
Seattle 800 $56,470
Spokane 190 $55,350
Spokane Valley 190 $55,350
Richland 180 $50,580
Kennewick 180 $50,580
Olympia 130 $51,140
Tumwater 130 $51,140
Yakima 60 $55,120
Silverdale 50 $58,170
Bremerton 50 $58,170
Wenatchee 30 $55,340
     
Metro Area (West Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Charleston 140 $41,710
Morgantown 50 $36,870
     
Metro Area (Wisconsin) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Waukesha 370 $49,950
West Allis 370 $49,950
Milwaukee 370 $49,950
Madison 120 $46,320
Green Bay 70 $46,310
Appleton 60 $47,820
Neenah 60 $49,240
Oshkosh 60 $49,240
Beloit 60 $51,730
Janesville 60 $51,730

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.

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2014-24 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com

Industry Jobs Percent Annual Median Salary
Government 93,770 96% $46,510
Social Service 1,520 1% $29,810
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  • MS in Criminal Justice - General Track
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We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Probation Officers Training and Career Information.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

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