In order to become probation officer, a person must first know what this job entitles. A probation officer is someone who helps convicted criminals that are assigned a probation period. It is during this period that convicted criminals must stay in contact with their probation officer, whether it is for months or years, depending on the offense. Probation officers work in the criminal justice field to help people get back on their feet through employment and education. A probation officer helps his clients to stay out of trouble and look forward to a future without crime. They require patience, experience and must have the necessary skills to help others.
Their job overlaps between police officer and social worker. This officer must also appear in court on mandated dates with a report so that the judge can check on the progress of the criminal. They also perform background checks on the criminal and the crime and play a role in sentencing as well. Testifying is another important part of becoming a probation officer. Their case load is heavy, so sometimes they do not get a chance to meet very often with their clients. Short meetings, family visits and phone calls allow the officer to check up on their clients. Their job is very demanding because they can be called at anytime to deal with situations related to their client.
Education and Experience Needed
A Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, social work or psychology is the minimum requirement for those looking to become probation officer. Every state and employer requires different education and experience, but all states require that applicants be between the ages of 21 and 37 and not be convicted of a felony. Some employers want their officers to hold Master’s degrees. Prior work experience or volunteer work in counseling, social work, correctional facilities or other criminal justice fields may be required. It is helpful for people and can look very well on their resume and application form.
A civil service exam is required in many states. Other written, oral or psychological exams may be given to applicants to determine their education, expertise and state of mind. This job is demanding physically and mentally and not everyone can handle it. Not everyone is accepted either, and the committee who does choose its officers want reliable and responsible individuals. In order to stand out, an applicant must be smart and communicate well. In order to become probation officer, applicants must know how to fill out reports, testify in court and get in the mind of a criminal.
Salary and Future Prospective
After being hired, probation officers can work with adults or juvenile offenders. Either way, officers can make anywhere from $37,000 to $58,000 a year. The average pay is around $45,000, but the top ten percent earned around $78,000. Pay depends on employer, location, education and experience. With a graduate degree, officers can advance to chief probation officers and earn anywhere from $72,000 to $100,000 a year.
Should You Become Probation Officer?
Probation officers require many different skills. Their education will teach them techniques on how to deal with criminals. They will also learn computer skills and how to fill out reports required for court. They must be ready to be on call for any emergency that involves their client. Their interview process will determine if they know how to communicate with others, especially in court for testifying. They must also know how to communicate with their clients. They must be physically strong and have the same abilities as a police officer, but at the same time, have a kind heart as a social worker to help those that are in need.
If you believe that you can do all of these things, then become probation officer may be in your future. The criminal justice system needs these kinds of people to deal with criminals that have been sentenced to probation. Many times probation is given instead of jail time, so probation officers must understand that they are dealing with criminals. The selection process is tough, so applicants should gain as much education and experience as possible to get a leg up on the competition.