Parole officer-related graduate degree programs include master's degrees in criminal justice or forensic psychology. Parole officer candidates must also undergo mental health and physical examinations. Before getting into a graduate program GRE score submission, a personal essay and letters of recommendation are required. Courses typically are available online.
Master of Science in Forensic Psychology
An M.S. in Forensic Psychology combines the study of the criminal justice system with graduate-level psychology courses, giving prospective parole officers insight into mental health concerns of parolees and the psychological effects of incarceration. Future parole officers take part in practicum experiences. They also take graduate classes in:
- Unlawful actions
- Professional ethics in criminal psychology
- Strategies for psychological evaluations
- The criminal mind
- Treating felons and ex-offenders
Master of Science in Criminal Justice
Graduate students interested in becoming parole officers often participate in special topic classes and seminars. They gain a foundation in research while studying topics such as:
- Applied data analysis
- Law and the public
- Social justice crimes
- Citizens' rights
- Criminal justice procedures
Professional Certification Information
Each state has its own requirements for becoming a parole officer; however, most parole officers are required to have a relevant 4-year degree, possess a driver's license and fall between 21 and 37 years of age. Additionally, most states require that individuals interested in becoming parole officers pass a knowledge-and-skills assessment as well as a mental health and physical exam. After this, parole officers generally start their employment by completing a 6-12 month trial employment period.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
In 2015, probation officers and correctional treatment specialists earned a mean salary of $54,080 annually, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). The BLS estimates that for the years 2014 through 2024 these workers will have a 4% job increase.
Parole officers can obtain graduate level degrees in either forensic psychology or criminal justice. Students who want to be a certified parole officer must meet the state requirements.