A high school diploma or GED certificate and bachelor's degree are required to become a parole officer. Most employers require parole officers to have several years of experience, though entry-level opportunities are available for officers who have no formal experience. Parole officers must undergo comprehensive physical and mental examinations to be considered for employment.
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:
- Forensic sciences
- Crime intervention
- Criminal law
- Criminal investigation
- Judicial systems
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The BLS states that as of May 2015, parole officers make a mean annual wage of $54,080. From 2014-2024, the BLS reports that the employment for parole officers is expected to grow by 4%.
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.
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.
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.
Parole officer training programs prepare students to work in a number of correctional environments. Students should complete coursework that gives them the ability to supervise paroled offenders, complete correctional paperwork the court system, and perform criminal interventions.