Probation Officer Career Trends

You may find room in a probation officer career because of its current industrial expansion. Employment is expected to grow 19 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the coming decade. This estimate is considerably higher than the average employment growth.

This expected growth is partly because of the high workload. The current workload for parole officers is pretty high. Probation and parole officers supervise former offenders on probation or parole, and the number of these people accumulates over time, faster than expansion in the employment of parole officers.

A probation officer career is also a complex job. Monitoring of offenders involves in some cases monitoring their movements, tailoring supervision requirements, working with and interviewing offenders and serving in a general “case management” role related to the probation terms. The work is therefore often complex, and it may involve complications if offenders breach the conditions of their probations.

To see some current job ads for parole officers, check out RealPolice, a U.S. site which is dedicated to all aspects of law enforcement. You can search for parole officer jobs, as well as see the duties and types of work involved in a probation officer career.

Educational Background

The complexity and high workload also contribute to a work environment in which multiple Bachelor's-level skills are involved:

  • Criminal justice
  • Social work
  • Psychology
  • Counseling
  • Substance abuse rehabilitation
  • Human services.

Not necessarily all of these skills are involved in a job, but they contribute greatly to the probation officer’s career. The jobs generally involve developing a wide range of skills within the context of the positions on the career track. This is a broad knowledge base, and it’s very useful in the dynamics of probation officer careers.

Advancement

The advancement process in probation officer careers is straightforward in terms of organizational roles. This is a promotion-based progression, where you advance with experience and qualifications. A parole officer may progress to senior management on the basis of these skills.

However, that’s not the whole story in terms of probation officer career options. The parole officer’s skills, qualifications and knowledge base create many options through his or her studies. Probation officers earn career qualifications which easily translate into other roles.

Interestingly, most of these career options are also in high-demand areas. If a parole officer also has management qualifications, there are career options in the management areas of those baseline degrees. For example, a parole officer with a Bachelor’s degree in social work and a qualification in business management has considerably more job and career options. A job as a manager in a community organization specializing in criminal rehabilitation is one of the more obvious. These qualifications would also permit other forms of social work. 

A probation officer career can also lead to positions at senior level as a policy adviser, either as a serving parole officer or in another career capacity based on the alternative career paths. A further option is providing training to new probation officers, another area of expanding career options.