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Career profile Probation Officer

Also known as Adult Probation Officer, Correctional Counselor, Deputy Probation Officer (DPO), Juvenile Probation Officer, Parole Agent, Parole Officer (PO), Probation Agent, Probation and Parole Officer, Probation Counselor, Probation Officer

Probation Officer

Also known as Adult Probation Officer, Correctional Counselor, Deputy Probation Officer (DPO)

Interests Profile
  • Social
  • Enterprising
  • Conventional
Pay Range
$36,990 - $98,510 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Active Listening
  • Speaking
  • Social Perceptiveness
Knowledge Areas
  • Law and Government
  • Public Safety and Security
  • Psychology
Core tasks
  • Prepare and maintain case folder for each assigned inmate or offender.
  • Supervise people on community-based sentences, such as electronically monitored home detention, and provide field supervision of probationers by conducting curfew checks or visits to home, work, or school.
  • Gather information about offenders' backgrounds by talking to offenders, their families and friends, and other people who have relevant information.
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What does a Probation Officer do?

Probation Officers provide social services to assist in rehabilitation of law offenders in custody or on probation or parole.

In addition, Probation Officers make recommendations for actions involving formulation of rehabilitation plan and treatment of offender, including conditional release and education and employment stipulations.

What kind of tasks does a Probation Officer perform regularly?

Probation Officers are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Prepare and maintain case folder for each assigned inmate or offender.
  • Supervise people on community-based sentences, such as electronically monitored home detention, and provide field supervision of probationers by conducting curfew checks or visits to home, work, or school.
  • Gather information about offenders' backgrounds by talking to offenders, their families and friends, and other people who have relevant information.
  • Interview probationers and parolees regularly to evaluate their progress in accomplishing goals and maintaining the terms specified in their probation contracts and rehabilitation plans.
  • Discuss with offenders how such issues as drug and alcohol abuse and anger management problems might have played roles in their criminal behavior.
  • Arrange for medical, mental health, or substance abuse treatment services according to individual needs or court orders.
  • Investigate alleged parole violations, using interviews, surveillance, and search and seizure.
  • Recommend remedial action or initiate court action in response to noncompliance with terms of probation or parole.
  • Develop liaisons and networks with other parole officers, community agencies, correctional institutions, psychiatric facilities, and aftercare agencies to plan for helping offenders with life adjustments.
  • Inform offenders or inmates of requirements of conditional release, such as office visits, restitution payments, or educational and employment stipulations.
  • Administer drug and alcohol tests, including random drug screens of offenders, to verify compliance with substance abuse treatment programs.
  • Participate in decisions about whether cases should go before courts and which court should hear them.
  • Write reports describing offenders' progress.
  • Conduct prehearing and presentencing investigations and testify in court regarding offenders' backgrounds and recommended sentences and sentencing conditions.
  • Arrange for postrelease services, such as employment, housing, counseling, education, and social activities.
  • Provide offenders or inmates with assistance in matters concerning detainers, sentences in other jurisdictions, writs, and applications for social assistance.
  • Develop and prepare packets containing information about social service agencies, assistance organizations, and programs that might be useful for inmates or offenders.

The above responsibilities are specific to Probation Officers. More generally, Probation Officers are involved in several broader types of activities:

Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Documenting/Recording Information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.

What is a Probation Officer salary?

The median salary for a Probation Officer is $55,690, and the average salary is $61,900. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Probation Officer salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Probation Officers earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Probation Officers earn less than $36,990 per year, 25% earn less than $43,720, 75% earn less than $75,030, and 90% earn less than $98,510.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Probation Officers is expected to change by 3.8%, and there should be roughly 8,100 open positions for Probation Officers every year.

Median annual salary
$55,690
Typical salary range
$36,990 - $98,510
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
3.8%

What personality traits are common among Probation Officers?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Probation Officer are usually higher in their Social, Enterprising, and Conventional interests.

Probation Officers typically have very strong Social interests. Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.

Also, Probation Officers typically have strong Enterprising interests. Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.

Lastly, Probation Officers typically have moderate Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Probation Officer tend to value Support, Relationships, and Working Conditions.

Most importantly, Probation Officers very strongly value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Second, Probation Officers strongly value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Lastly, Probation Officers moderately value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Probation Officers must consistently demonstrate qualities such as integrity, self-control, and dependability.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Probation Officers, ranked by importance:

Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Self-Control
Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Stress Tolerance
Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.

What education and training do Probation Officers need?

Many Probation Officers will have a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.

Probation Officers usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.

Educational degrees among Probation Officers

  • 1.1% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 2.6% completed high school or secondary school
  • 7.9% completed some college coursework
  • 3.8% earned a Associate's degree
  • 65.1% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 17.6% earned a Master's degree
  • 1.8% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Probation Officers

Probation Officers may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as law and government, public safety and security, or psychology knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Probation Officers might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Law and Government
Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
Public Safety and Security
Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Psychology
Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
Therapy and Counseling
Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
Sociology and Anthropology
Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures, and their history and origins.

Important Abilities needed by Probation Officers

Probation Officers must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Probation Officers need abilities such as oral expression, written comprehension, and problem sensitivity in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Probation Officers, ranked by their relative importance.

Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Deductive Reasoning
The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
Inductive Reasoning
The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).

Critical Skills needed by Probation Officers

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Probation Officers frequently use skills like active listening, speaking, and social perceptiveness to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Probation Officers, ranked by their relative importance.

Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Speaking
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Social Perceptiveness
Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

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