Parole or Probation Officer Careers

black Image of scales on white background with the words, "calibrate the scales" overlaid. As with any set of scales, the scales of justice must, from time to time, be recalibrated. Total balance is never achieved, but all in the criminal justice and legal systems must strive for it as much as possible.

The Role of Parole and Probation Officers in Criminal Justice and Law

Parole Officers, also known as Probation Officers, are appointed to oversee people who have been convicted of some crime, but have been released temporarily i.e. on parole or probation.

The main responsibility of the Parole Officer is to ensure that the offender must not violate any terms and conditions of his probation and must not get engaged in any sort of criminal activities. They act as mentors to the offenders (parolees) who are trying to start afresh. They help these individuals in getting proper treatment, finding a job to earn their bread and butter and tracking their progress and behavior.

Each Parole Officer may have nearly 100 cases under him or her. Some cases require extensive supervision but some can be handled with minimal supervision.

The Parole Officers are required to document the progress by writing the progress reports and presenting it to the parole board on each parole hearing. They hold meetings on regular interval by visiting the parolees at home or work place to discuss various options. Parole officers are the final decision makers to decide whether the particular parolee should go back to the prison or not.

The Parole Officer’s job is dangerous because they have to deal and handle criminals who can be aggressive and difficult to handle and at times become dangerous. Although dangerous, the job of Parole Officer is extremely rewarding as they help bring reformation and rehabilitation in the life and behavior of the parolees. The work environment and conditions are stressful.

The Parole Officer generally 40 hours a week. But the job demands them to keep themselves prepared to work overtime and be available on call as and when required.

Educational Requirements to Become a Parole and/or Probation Officer

The minimum qualification requirement to be a Parole Officer is a bachelor’s degree in sociology, psychology or criminology. The candidates must be good in human service, social work and criminal justice.

A master’s degree also helps to grab a job of a Federal Parole Officer and even helps in getting promoted to higher positions. Work experience or training in law enforcement is a must for the applicants. The experience can be gained by working as police officer, correction officer or some other law enforcement agent at least for one year or more. Some students also opt for internship programs to enhance their resumes.

Some of the on-the-job requirements of a Parole or Probation Officer include:

  • Strong communication skills and
  • interpersonal skills are the key requirements as the job requires them to communicate with the offenders, their family members, judges and their medical representatives on regular basis.
  • The job also demands writing ability as they are required to write reports frequently.
  • They must also be good listeners and
  • should have excellent time-management skills and
  • the ability to work with minimal supervision because they handle many active cases alone.

Preparation for a Career as a Parole/Probation Officer

After passing series of examinations and the final interview, the finally hired officers undergo a well-planned training program by U.S. Department of Corrections and pass the exam successfully at the end of the training. After completion of the training the Trainee Parole Officer works under an experienced and senior Parole Officer for at least one year and this period is known as probation period.

Map of South Carolina highlighting Charleston ...
Map of South Carolina highlighting Charleston County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Only after the successful completion of the probation period, the Parole Officers get to handle the cases independently.

The newly hired Parole Officers also get an Orientation training and firearms training at the Federal Probation and Pre-Trial Services Training Academy which is situated at Federal Law Enforcement Center in Charleston, South Carolina.

The aspirants must also keep themselves calm and have patience because the job requires them to deal and guide criminals. So the temperament has to be controlled to build good rapport with the offenders and their families.

How to Apply for a Position as a Parole Officer

The applicants must be U.S. citizens to be qualified to apply for homeland security Agent’s job. The applicants must be minimum 21 years old and maximum not more than 37 years to apply for the position of Parole Officer. The applicants must certainly hold a valid driver’s license to be qualified for the position.

All the federal job opportunities are posted on a central database, USAJOBS. If you fulfill the conditions, create a USAJOBS account and fill up the application form for the desired post very carefully. Read the instructions very minutely to avoid rejection of the application.

Submit all the documents mentioned with the application otherwise the applicants are declared to be ineligible for the job. The resume must be minimum of two pages so don’t cut down on important details. In fact the applicants must write every possible details to highlight the key skills, relevant experience and educational qualification.

The selection process is lengthy which takes some months to complete the hiring. The selected applicants then sit for written exam. The candidates after qualifying the psychological exam must pass a background investigation, drug test and other necessary screening tests.

Physical fitness test is also a part of selection process. The candidates must prepare themselves for the test. The Parole Officers may get to deal with dangerous criminals so being physically fit and trained is important for the job. The deserving candidates then face the personal interview.

Additional Information Related to a Career as a Parole Officer

The officers may possibly get job titles like Parole Officer, Community supervision officer or Probation officer.

Average Salary of a Parole Officer

The average annual salary of a Parole Officer is $47,200, as stated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The top agents earn up to $80,750 annually.  The salary package varies based on experience, education, location and pay scale. The salaries offered in urban areas are comparatively higher than that offered in suburban and rural areas.

The job requirement is expected to grow by 18% as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This rate indicates good number of job opportunities for the aspirants.


If one aspires to be a Parole Officer, he or she should not even dream of getting a tattoo as it may disqualify the deserving candidates.