Probation Officer: Career Definition, Employment Outlook, and Education Requirements

Get information on the daily job activities of a probation officer, and find out what education is required for this occupation. You can explore the projections for job growth, as well as see what the average salaries are for probation officers. Schools offering Corrections degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Would I Do as a Probation Officer?

As a probation officer, you work with individuals who have been convicted of a crime and sentenced to probation. You work with community organizations, families and co-workers of criminals to guarantee that they meet their court-appointed guidelines. Contact with offenders varies depending on the crime. Surprise visits may be conducted to make sure that criminals are not breaking any laws. These visits may include random drug testing and interviewing employers, friends or family members.

You may monitor electronic tracking devices that are placed on the criminal. Another job duty may be to go into court and speak with the judge about sentencing or to provide reports of how the offender is doing. Many criminals must attend rehabilitation or church as part of their probation, so you may need to work with organizations to place offenders. Basically, the long term goal is to help offenders live positive lives, be a part of society and not commit other criminal acts.

What Is the Career Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for probation officers are anticipated to grow by about 19% between 2008-2018 ( This is a change of around 19,900 jobs. The BLS reports that in 2010, the average probation officer salary was $51,240. The five top-paying states were California, Connecticut, New Jersey, Illinois and New York. Probation officers in California averaged $77,070.

What Do I Need to Study?

The BLS recommends completing a college program in social work, psychology, sociology, criminal justice or a similar program. A bachelor's degree is sufficient for some states, while others ask that you complete a master's degree program. Either way, you want to study the behavioral and community sciences. Courses teach you about the court systems, rehabilitation, human development, psychology and assessment. You also want to have strong communication, writing and interpersonal skills.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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