Probation Officer — Degree, Career & Average Salary
Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists are in charge of people who are convicted of crimes, but who are placed in probation rather than being incarcerated. Probation officers supervise these individuals to insure that they stay out of trouble and that they meet any requirements set by a court. Parole officers also supervise offenders who have been released from prison.
Many times, this job requires personal contact with the offenders and their families at their homes and places of employment. Parole officers also enlist the help of many community agencies such as religious institutions, neighborhood groups and social welfare institutions to help monitor the offender. Many probation officers work exclusively with either adults or juveniles, as both groups represent different monitoring styles.
Probation officers may also spend much of their time working for the courts as they investigate backgrounds of the accused, write pre-sentence reports and recommend sentences. Probation officers may be required to testify in some instances, and to attend hearings to update courts on the offender’s efforts at rehabilitation and compliance with the terms of their sentence.
Training for this position depends upon state requirements, but many states do ask for a bachelor’s degree in social work, criminal justice or a related field. Many other employers may require previous experience and a master’s degree in criminal justice, social work, psychology or a related field. Most probation officers are required to be in good physical and emotional health, and a training program may be offered that could last as long as one year.
Median annual earnings for probation officers in 2004 was $39,600. The middle 50 percent earned between $31,500 and $52,100. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $26,310, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $66,660. In May 2004, median annual earnings for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists employed in State government were $39,810; those employed in local government earned $40,560. Higher wages tend to be found in urban areas.