County Probations Officer: Job Description & Career Info

Mar 11, 2019

Read on to see what being a county probations officer entails. Get details about required education and training. Learn about the career prospects and earning potential, too.

Career Definition for a County Probations Officer

County probations officers can work with juveniles or adults. They supervise and monitor offenders who have been sentenced to probation instead of incarceration for a criminal offense, report their findings to the court as required, and assist those on probation with rehabilitation. County probations officers work at halfway houses, detention centers, residential programs, and detoxification programs. There is usually an upper age limit for applicants for county probation officer jobs, as these positions are typically civil service jobs.

Education Bachelor's degree typically required, along with previous experience
Job Skills Observational and reporting skills, good judgment, knowledge of legal systems
Median Salary (2017)* $51,410 for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 6% growth for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Required

Almost all county probations officer jobs require a bachelor's degree in corrections, social work, criminal justice, counseling or psychology. Most county probations officer jobs also require related work, internship or volunteer experience. In lieu of the required related work experience, more advanced education may be acceptable, depending on the employer.

Required Skills

County probations officers require strong organizational, observational, reporting, and communication skills. An excellent working knowledge of legal system practices is also important. County probations officers must be able to work independently and use good judgment in working with their clients and superiors.

Career and Economic Outlook

Probations officers and correctional treatment specialists, including county probations officers, can expect a slight increase in the number of jobs from 2016-2026, a growth of 6% per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, The agency reports that factors like budgets and funding on various levels of government are likely to influence the number of jobs. The BLS published the median annual salary among probation officers and correctional treatment specialists as $51,410 in May 2017.

Alternate Career Options

Consider these alternatives for working in the field of social work and corrections:

Social Worker

Social workers help people - from children to adults - cope with problems in their daily lives, such as bullying, health problems, job loss or divorce. They work with clients to clarify needs and goals and determine what kind of help is needed, whether it's coaching, behavior modification, social services or related assistance. Some social workers are licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs) who are able to provide therapy to clients suffering from emotional, mental or behavioral issues.

Entry-level, direct-service social workers usually have a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree, although employers may accept a degree in psychology or a related field, too. LCSWs are required to hold a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree (a BSW isn't typically required to enter an MSW program); they also complete a minimum of work experience prior to sitting for a mandatory licensing exam. The BLS predicts that jobs for social workers will increase 16% from 2016-2026, with some variation depending on area of practice; for example, jobs for healthcare social workers are predicted to increase 20% while jobs for child, family and school social workers are predicted to increase 14% during that same decade. The BLS also reports that social workers earned a median pay of $47,980 in 2017.

Correctional Officer

A correctional officer is responsible for what happens in a jail or correctional facility. Inmates may be already convicted and serving sentences or in custody waiting for a trial. Correctional officers enforce the rules, inspect facilities and inmates for prohibited items, and transport inmates to and from court or other jails. Corrections officers also document their activities and inmate behavior. In order to gain admission to a corrections officer training academy, applicants must be age 18-21 through age 37; they must also be U.S. citizens without a felony criminal record. A minimum of a high school diploma is required; federal jobs require a minimum of a bachelor's degree. New hire and on-going training are typical. According to the BLS, jobs in this field are expected to decrease 8% from 2016-2026. The median pay for correctional officers was $43,540 in 2017, per the BLS.

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