Parole Officer Training Programs, Classes and Courses

Parole officers supervise offenders who have been recently released from prison and are required to adhere to parole restrictions. Parole officers visit offenders, perform background checks and ensure offenders follow through with sentencing requirements. Parole officers are typically required to have a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, psychology or correctional administration.

Training Requirements and Recommendations

A high school diploma or GED certificate and bachelor's degree are required to become a parole officer. Common majors include criminal justice, criminology and psychology, though a range of acceptable majors exist. Most employers require parole officers to have several years of experience, though entry-level opportunities are available for officers who have no formal experience.

Most employers, including the federal government, provide training programs for parole officers to hone their skills and learn all the responsibilities of parole supervision. Parole officers must undergo comprehensive physical and mental examinations to be considered for employment. Positions that allow officers to carry firearms typically require officers to pass a weapons competency exam.

Formal Education

Parole officers must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited university to seek employment. Bachelor's degrees in criminal justice, psychology, correctional administration, sociology, social work and human services are all common degrees among parole officers. Though it is rare, some employers may waive formal education requirements for sufficient job experience.

Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

A bachelor's degree in criminal justice prepares students to work with correctional agencies. Students learn to supervise paroled offenders, prepare correctional paperwork for court systems and perform criminal intervention practices. Programs last four years and may include courses on:

  • Criminology
  • Forensic sciences
  • Crime intervention
  • Criminal law
  • Criminal investigation
  • Judicial systems
  • Victimology

Job Experience

Many employers require parole officers to have at least one to five years of experience as a correctional or parole officer. Advanced and supervisory positions may require five to ten years of experience. Parole officer positions that involve firearms require officers to have experience with firearms and pass a firearms competency exam. Many employers also provide training programs for entry-level parole officers who have a formal education but no professional experience.

Licenses and Certifications

There are no licenses for parole officers. In most cases, however, there are training programs offered by employers that lead to certification for parole officers. For example, parole officers working for the U.S. Court System must undergo training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC). Training at the FLETC lasts six weeks and combines classroom teaching with hands-on training exercises. Other employers offer similar training programs that ensure proficiency in correctional administration and parole supervision.

Workshops and Seminars

The American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) offers the nation's largest training workshops and seminars for probation, parole and correctional officers. The APPA holds training institutes that provide information on industry practices, career opportunities and developments in parole supervision. The APPA holds workshops several times a year and also offers additional career services through a membership program.

Additional Professional Development

Parole officers must be physically fit and mentally stable in order to work with recently released offenders. Good eyesight and hearing is required and parole officers must be comfortable with computers in order to write and present case reports. Because many parole officers visit the homes or communities of offenders, officers must have a valid driver's license and reliable transportation. Parole officers who wish to purse management and supervisory positions can obtain a master's degree in criminal justice or psychology.

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