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Parole Officer Requirements and Career Outlook

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a parole officer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and other training opportunities to find out if this is the career for you.

Before thinking about becoming a parole officer, understand that many employers are looking for parole officers between 21 and 37 and you must have a clean background. If those two qualifications are not a problem, then choosing a bachelor's degree program in a field like criminal justice should be your next focus in starting your new career.

Essential Information

Parole officers supervise criminal offenders who have been released from prison. They monitor parolees, help them find suitable living arrangements and meet with assigned parolees regularly. A four-year degree in a directly related field, such as criminal justice, and completion of a state training program is often required for employment as a parole officer.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in criminal justice, psychology, social work or related field
Other Requirements State-sponsored training program requires in some states
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 4% for all probation officers and correctional treatment specialists*
Median Salary (May 2015) $49,360 for all probation officers and correctional treatment specialists*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that the majority of parole, probation and other correctional officers needed at least a bachelor's degree related to psychology, social work or criminal justice to enter the field (www.bls.gov). Undergraduate degree programs in criminal justice generally cover correctional strategies, forensics, legal research, criminal psychology and offender rehabilitation. Administrative parole officer positions may require a graduate degree, along with extensive field experience.

Training

Some employers require workers to complete an additional officer training program prior to employment. Individuals might enroll in a parole officer training program, some of which confer an associate's degree; however, some states only offer probation officer training, which involves similar training procedures. Other states require parole officers to go through the same training program as police officers. Courses in these programs typically cover basic law enforcement, arrest control techniques, interviewing skills, case planning and parolee motivational techniques.

Other Requirements

Before becoming a parole officer, most applicants must pass a series of exams. Some test an individual's knowledge of working with parolees, while others evaluate an applicant's psychological well-being. Applicants also must pass a physical exam, and some agencies seek prospective parole officers within the age range of 21-37. Finally, applicants must clear a thorough background check.

Career Outlook

During the decade between 2014 and 2024, the BLS predicts that the number of jobs for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists to increase 4%. Parole officer positions may continue to be available due to the regular flow of prisoners being released and assigned to parole officers as well as from job openings created by those who leave the field.

Parole officers work with individuals within the judicial system who have been released on parole and help them acquire work, housing, and stay motivated to rehabilitate. Their training includes an undergraduate degree in a field related to criminal justice or social work, as well as, in many states, parole officer training programs, or possibly, police officer training programs. Once training is completed, a series of exams will clear a new parole officer for duty.

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