Career Information for a Degree in Corrections, Probation and Parole

Jun 14, 2021

Probation and parole officers, correctional service officers and bailiffs can all prepare for their careers by completing a degree in corrections, probation, and parole. Completing a degree is a common requirement for these professions, and it's also possible to pursue a master's degree.

Essential Information

Degree programs in corrections, probation, and parole teach students the skills they'll need to manage prisoners, interact with parolees and convicts, maintain court order and process inmates in jails and prisons. Students learn how courts and prisons operate and different strategies for dealing with convicts. These strategies may include rehabilitation and counseling. While careers in the field generally require at least an undergraduate degree, graduate programs are available.

Career Probation and Parole Officers Correctional Service Officers Bailiffs
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree High school diploma, college courses may be required High school diploma, college courses may be required
Other Requirements Between the ages of 21 and 37, no felonies At least 18, no felonies n/a
Job Growth (2019-2029)* 4% for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists -7% 0%
Median Annual Salary (May 2020)* $55,690 annually for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists $47,410 annually for corrections officers and jailers $48,000

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Graduates of a degree program in corrections, probation, and parole are prepared for careers in public safety and crime prevention. These careers can vary greatly in environment and expectations, as well as salary and job outlook. Graduates can work with the public and the law in many capacities, including careers as bailiffs, correctional service officers, or probation and parole officers. Below are job overviews for these three possible career options.

Probation and Parole Officers

Probation and parole officers have a variety of duties. These duties include keeping in contact with paroled prisoners or convicts sentenced to probation in order to ensure adherence to the terms of the parole or probation. Parole and probation officers also help individuals secure jobs, housing or education. Officers may handle many active cases at a time and provide judges with reports about offenders' behavior and progress. A bachelor's degree is often required to work in the field. The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) categorizes probation and parole offices as probation officers and correctional treatment specialists and notes their job growth outlook as 4% from 2019 to 2029. According to the BLS, probation officers and correctional treatment specialists made a median annual salary of $55,690 as of May 2020.

Correctional Service Officers

Correctional service officers, sometimes called detention officers or prison guards, maintain order and assist in processing prisoners in jails and prisons. Those who work in county jails place new inmates in shared jail cells and assist in moving them from jails to courtrooms and back. Correctional service officers in prisons deal with a less transient prisoner population. These officers spend more of their time settling disputes, reporting on prisoner behavior and administering discipline. All correctional service officers must work to prevent escapes and fights. This occupation was expected to decline by 7% between 2019 and 2029, according to the BLS. The median annual salary for corrections officers and jailers as of May 2020 was $47,410.


Bailiffs provide security in courtrooms and make sure that all jurors and observers adhere to the rules of conduct while the court is in session. During trials, bailiffs announce the judge's arrival and maintain order in courtrooms. If jurors stay at hotels overnight, bailiffs also act as escorts and public referees, preventing jurors from interacting with members of the public. The BLS expected that job opportunities in this field will show little or no change from 2019 to 2029. The annual median salary as of May 2020 was $48,000, reported the BLS.

Bailiffs are responsible for the security of courts; correctional service officers oversee those incarcerated in jails and prisons. Probation and parole officers work with convicted criminals after they're released to help them comply with the requirements of their parole and adjust to life outside of prison. These professionals will experience slower than average job growth rates from 2019 to 2029 and may need a degree in corrections, probation, and parole to compete for jobs in these fields.

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