A probation officer works with people on probation to holds them accountable to keep the requirements set for the probation. They also help individuals get on the path to lead a better life. They meet people assigned to them in their office or travel to their residence. They may also provide those on parole with community resources such as rehabilitation, on-the-job training, or behavioral health services.
Watch a video to learn what a probation officer does.
How to Become a Probation Officer
Usually a bachelor’s degree in a field such as social work or criminal justice is required. The exact educational requirement needed however is based on the jurisdiction. There is extensive on-the-job training that is also provided and you could work in a training capacity for up to a year. Though experience may not be necessary, if you have previous experience in a related field such as social work or corrections even, that may be more advantageous when looking for a position.
There are also probation officers that may focus on a particular area. For example, there may be probation officers that work specifically with domestic violence offenders or those cases that have a background of substance abuse. Others may focus solely on a population, such as juvenile offenders who are on probation.
Job Description of a Probation Officer
Along with meeting with those on probation, probation officers also determine the best path of rehabilitation for those in their care and write detailed reports on their treatment plan of action. They also continually evaluate how the individual is doing with their treatment plan. Are they staying out of trouble, going to the counseling or rehabilitation sessions assigned to them, and keeping off any substances they may have abused prior to their probation.
Probation Career Video Transcript
When a judge hands someone a sentence of time on probation, the individual often has major issues to sort out. Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists help people on probation get reestablished in a positive direction and avoid further trouble. These officers and specialists work with individuals who are given probation instead of jail time, who are still in prison, or who have been released from prison.
Work starts with meetings to form a rehabilitation plan. The plan might include any supports needed for the individual’s success, such as housing, substance abuse treatment, legal help, mental health counseling, or job training, as well as an agreement about regular check-ins. Documentation of meetings and activities is a significant part of the job.
As a probation officer or correctional treatment specialist, you can expect to encounter visits to hostile environments, strict court-imposed deadlines, and the frustration of seeing some of your clients violate the terms of their release. State and local government facilities employ the majority of these workers, where on-call shifts may be required in addition to full-time work. Typically, a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as criminal justice or social work is required.
Extensive training on the job is provided. Candidates must pass competency tests, drug tests, and a criminal background check. In this field, you must be both strong and compassionate to help your clients build a better future.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists.
National Center for O*NET Development. 21-1092.00. O*NET OnLine.
The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.