How to Become a Probation Officer

If you want to become a probation officer (PO), then you must be comfortable in dealing and counseling convicted people serving probation. A PO has to supervise the criminals who are on probation. The reports of a PO play a vital role in deciding the sentence of that convict. A PO investigates by conducting interviews with the criminal’s family, employers, and counselors. A PO would also record and schedule drug testing and the results, respectively. You would also monitor criminals with the help of electronic tracking devices. A PO must help these people to become stewards of society.


  • A bachelor’s degree is essential to become a probation officer. If a person graduates with a Probation Officer degree it is helpful to enter this field. But that is rare; a Criminal Justice degree will shine on your resume if this is your chosen profession. Other relevant degrees could be in social psychology, criminal psychology, corrections or social work.
  • Apart from this, a PO is required to take a Civil Service Examination and additional testing and training.
  • A master’s degree in criminal justice, social work, counseling or a related field is essential to become a probation officer in a federal or advanced position.
  • You must be 21 years of age without any felony record convictions.
  • At least two years of experience in correctional treatment or counseling is essential to become a probation officer in some states.
  • Complete the required examinations. It usually includes a psychological and physical test; apart from the oral and written examinations.
  • You must devote at least 6 months to a year of probationary period under a supervisor or senior probation officer.
  • Complete the certification examination after being hired.

Tips for Becoming a Probation Officer

  • POs should possess excellent communication skills.
  • Become computer savvy - a PO must be proficient in data management and other software systems.
  • Develop your data analysis and critical thinking abilities as a PO has to evaluate clients and prepare pre-sentence reports to lawyers and judges.

The salary of a probation officer can be superior when compared to other law enforcement positions. The average annual salary for a probation officer is around $40,000. The annual salary can extend to $133,000 to $161,000 for chief probation officers.

Types of Probation Officers

There are full or part time probation officer jobs. For full time POs, the work week consists of the standard 40 hour work week. A probation officer has multiple opportunities to advance in his or her career. Some of the officers specialize in handling juvenile offenders while others adults.

Advice for Becoming a Probation Officer

It is a challenging and fulfilling job since a PO can guide offenders through supportive counseling and advise them on becoming a responsible person. The job opportunities in this field can be easily located with the help of; a site dedicated for searching positions in this realm. Though this job is rewarding and fascinating, it is also stressful and dangerous at certain times. But there is immense satisfaction that accompanies this position.