A parole officer helps former prison inmates adjust to society and stay away from people and situations that may lead them back to lives of crime. Although states require bachelor's degrees as the minimum educational requirement for parole officers and master's degrees are available, associate's degree programs can begin the educational process.
The most common associate's degree for parole officer training is an associate's degree in criminal justice. Coursework in these programs prepares students for bachelor's degree programs in the field. Associate's degree programs require an internship with local law enforcement for graduation.
Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED, and be in good physical health because of the demands of the work. Candidates are subject to background checks and must not have a prior criminal record.
Associate's Degree in Criminal Justice
Psychology and ethics are among the subjects taught in addition to criminal justice. Typical coursework would include the following:
- Evidence laws
- Criminal law
- Juvenile justice system
- Police operations
- Criminal procedures
An associate's degree in criminal justice may help students find employment in these areas:
- Border agent
- Animal control agent
- Criminal investigator
- Insurance investigator
- Customs agent
An associate's degree in criminal justice is a stepping stone to a bachelor's degree, which is the requirement for becoming a parole officer. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that probation officers and correctional treatment specialists - a group that includes parole officers - earned a median of $49,360 per year as of 2015.
Graduates of associate's degree programs in criminal justice may be able to transfer credits earned to bachelor's degree programs. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) reports that some employers may require candidates to have master's degrees in criminal justice, psychology or social work.
Students desiring to work as a parole officer can begin their education with an associate's degree in criminal justice to learn the foundation of criminology and the justice system. Most graduates go on to get their bachelor's or master's degree to work as a parole officer.