According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most employers prefer probation officers to have a bachelor's degree, and most municipalities require employees to pass written, oral and psychological exams. Coursework covers ethics, laws and procedures relevant to the fields of probation, corrections and parole.
Probation officer programs introduce students to the criminal justice system, and they prepare students with skills used to facilitate the rehabilitation of criminals and to maintain personal and public safety. Training programs combine classroom study of laws and procedures with practical training to help officers perform essential job duties in the field.
Here are some common concepts taught in probation officer courses:
- Electronic monitoring
- House arrest
- Prison industry
- Sentencing history
- Theory and practical applications
List of Probation Officer Classes
Parole, Probation and Community Corrections Course
Students learn about basic duties of parole or probation officers who work for community-based correctional programs. Duties may include monitoring house arrest, day reporting, restitution enforcement and community service details. Additional topics of instruction may include levels of offender supervisions, various treatment needs, revocations processes, investigative reports writing and sentencing structures. A course on parole and probation may be taken at any time in a program. Some schools may offer this course at multiple levels, and students will take the lower level at the beginning of their program and the upper level later on.
Criminal Justice Fundamentals Course
Students receive an overview of the U.S. criminal justice system; this course generally covers the criminal justice system's main branches, which include law enforcement, correctional systems and the courts. Historical and societal influences within the criminal justice system are also explored. Students receive a brief introduction to the juvenile court and jail system. The separate functions of local, county, state and federal agencies are also generally examined. Since this course provides an overview of the criminal justice system, students often take it near the beginning of their program.
Correctional System Fundamentals Course
Students learn about the historical, political and legal aspects of correctional systems in the U.S. They may also research public views about the correctional system and explore how the system affects policy and procedure changes. A correctional system fundamentals course also covers different types of offenders and contemporary methods in containing and handling criminal offenders. Probation and parole procedures may also be explored, along with alternative sanctions, such as house arrest and work release. The correctional system fundamentals course is a survey of the correctional system and is typically taken at the beginning of a program.
Community Corrections Course
In a community corrections course, students learn about various intervention strategies and discuss institutional correctional settings for mentally ill or unstable offenders. House arrest, restitution, disposition support in interventions, parole board functions and general probation officer responsibilities are also explored. Students learn about different types of community corrections programs, including the specialized treatment options for different groups of offenders like youth and substance abusers. A community corrections course provides specialized knowledge and is typically taken after survey courses.
Correctional Rehabilitation Course
In a correctional rehabilitation course, students survey different types of treatment and counseling methods. Coursework may focus on a specific type of offender, like substance abusers, or on general ways to reintegrate offenders into society. Students explore the ethical concerns faced by a probation officer and learn about the needs of different types of offenders. A correctional system fundamentals course may be a prerequisite for a correctional rehabilitation course.