How to Become a Probation Officer

Projected Job Growth: 18%
Projected Employment Change: 17,100

Probation officers monitor criminals who have been placed on probation rather than sentenced to serve jail time. Monitoring these types of criminals requires an extensive amount of supervision on the officer’s part, as they make sure that an offender meets requirements set by the court and does not commit new crimes. Their job requires them to evaluate offenders so they can identify the most appropriate treatments, provide them with resources to aid in their rehabilitation, help them become involved in treatment programs, monitor their progress while in treatment, and write detailed reports on their progress. As the above projections provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicate, employment in this occupation is expected to increase just about as fast as average for all occupations; however, a demand for these types of services is expected to create new openings.

Why Probation?

The increasing demand for probation and parole services, alternative forms of punishment, and the possibility of a large number of people who are currently in prison being released are just a few factors reasons why employment in this occupation is expected to increase, according to the BLS. Those looking to begin a career in probation should experience good job opportunities, as there is typically less competition for positions in this field than others. Those who have completed a graduate education, such as those available in state university online degree programs, may experience better opportunities for advancement to supervisory positions in probation.

Getting Into Probation

To pursue a career as a probation officer, one typically needs as least a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related area like social work or psychology. On-campus and online bachelor’s degree programs in these areas are commonly available from public and private universities and colleges. Along with an education, work experience can help one qualify for a probation officer position. Experience in the following areas can be beneficial: probation, parole, pretrial services, social work, corrections, counseling, criminal investigations, or substance abuse treatment. In addition, probation officers are required to complete a training program sponsored by government which includes a certification test. Those who wish to qualify for more advanced positions may want to look into online master’s degree programs that can be completed while obtaining work experience.