Requirements for Probation Officers

Sep 08, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a probation officer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and state certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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Individuals interested in becoming probation officers should have strong communication and interpersonal skills and have an understanding of the criminal justice system. Beyond a degree program, experience may be important for finding employment, so internships during school can be helpful for those looking to enter the work force.

Essential Information

Probation officers monitor individuals who have been placed on probation for committing crimes instead of being sent to prison. In some instances, they may work with an offender's family to ensure that they do not incur any additional criminal offenses. A bachelor's degree in criminal justice, social work or some other closely related field is required, and many states require probation officers to complete a training program. Passing a state certification exam may be mandatory as well.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in criminal justice, social work or other relevant field
Other Requirements Government training program and state certification exam in many states
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 3% for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists
Median Salary (2018)* $53,020 for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

Probation officers must have strong communication and interpersonal skills and be knowledgeable about state and federal laws concerning criminal conduct and the U.S. court system. A bachelor's degree in criminal justice provides aspiring probation officers with the best chance of securing employment. Many employers also prefer applicants with at least one or two years of experience.

Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

A bachelor's degree in criminal justice prepares students for a wide range of careers in corrections, policing, homeland security and public safety. Students enrolled in a bachelor's degree program in criminal justice learn about the criminal justice system in the United States and the reasons for why individuals commit crimes. Some of the core courses include police and society, corrections, theories of criminology, judicial processes and criminal justice research methods.

Students who complete this degree program should develop strong writing and communication skills and the ability to understand and interpret legal documents. An internship is typically offered towards the end of the program. A senior criminal justice research program may also be offered and is usually completed by students who plan to study criminal justice at the graduate level.

Additional Requirements

A training program sponsored by state or federal government may be required before applying to probation officer positions. Additionally, a candidate may need to pass a state certification test. Most employers have restrictions concerning the employment of probation officers. Applicants must be in good physical health and be emotionally mature. An applicant who has a criminal record will most likely be rejected for employment. A probationary period is typically required of all new hires before they are offered permanent positions.

Probation officers work with individuals who have been placed on probation, and in some cases, with their families. To become a probation officer involves the completion of a bachelor's degree program in a related field, as well as a possible training program and state certification. A background check is usually a part of the employment process so those with a criminal background may want to choose a different profession.

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