What Does a Probation Officer Do?
Do you believe people deserve a second chance? Do you want to make sure the law is upheld? Are you interested in helping your community? If you answered yes, then a career as a probation officer might be right for you. Keep on reading to learn more about it. Schools offering Corrections degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Probation Officer Defined
If you're employed as a probation officer, you'll work with people who've been convicted of crimes but were not sentenced to jail time. Instead, these offenders were given a probationary period where they must comply with all requirements set forth by the judge. These requirements may include seeking gainful employment, undergoing substance abuse treatment, performing community service and staying out of trouble. As their probation officer, you'll regularly supervise, visit and report on these individuals to ensure they are complying with their probation.
Among your duties as a probation officer is to ensure an offender attends any counseling, job training or substance abuse treatment program as mandated as part of the person's sentence. You'll check in and discuss the offender's progress with family members, church and local group leaders and employers. You'll be expected to meet with your offenders regularly at their home, job, court or at other settings.
Another important job of being a probation officer is that you'll have to report to the court about the progress of your offender. You'll meet regularly with judges and lawyers, the offender, his or her family and others. You'll detail important events about the case and suggest any changes that may be needed in the probation.
When a convicted offender is released on probation, you'll help set up counseling appointments, educational programs, employment opportunities and housing. You'll work to get them involved in social activities needed with their rehabilitation.
Needed Education and Experience
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most employers require you to have at least a bachelor's degree to work as a probation officer (www.bls.gov). In some cases, you may need a master's degree if you have little work experience. Undergraduate degree majors may include psychology, criminal justice and social work. You can gain work experience from previous jobs or internships in parole, corrections, social work, counseling, criminal investigations and probation.
When you apply to become a probation officer, you'll need to complete psychological, physical, oral and written tests to gauge your ability to handle challenging and sometimes dangerous situations. You'll need to be at least age 21 and have a valid driver's license in most states; federal government requires applicants to be no older than 37, according to the BLS.
Salary and Job Outlook
Probation officers had mean annual salary of $50,500, according to a May 2009 salary report by the BLS. Probation officers who worked in hospitals earned the most, with an annual mean salary of $57,890. By state, California had the highest national mean salary, at $77,020 a year. You can expect job growth for probation officers to increase at a faster than average pace from 2008 to 2018, according to the BLS.
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