Probation and Community Control Officer Career Information

Job Duties, Salary Potential and Education Requirements of Probation Officers

Probation and Community Control Officers
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Probation and community control officers serve a very important role in the criminal justice system. In many cases, when a person is convicted of a crime, he is sentenced to either incarceration (jail or prison) or probation, or a combination of both. Probation means that a criminal is free from jail, but must meet certain conditions such as remaining drug, crime and alcohol-free.

Often, prisoners are released from prison early with the understanding that they will meet certain expectations. This is called "supervised release." Probation and community control officers are the criminology professionals who are responsible for ensuring these conditions are met.

What do probation officers do and where do they work?

Probation and community control officers perform several functions within the criminal justice system. Duties of probation and community control officers include:

  • Supervising probationers and parolees
  • Visiting homes of probationers and parolees
  • Meeting with probationer and parolees' families
  • Working with churches and religious groups
  • Working with community organizations
  • Electronic monitoring of probationers and parolees
  • Conducting pre-trial investigations
  • Submitting sentencing recommendations to courts
  • Provide courtroom testimony
  • Submit status reports of probationers and parolees
  • Arrange for vocational training and assist in job searches

Probation and community control officers report to the court system. Their goal is to help convicted criminals become productive members of society and ensure they do not become repeat offenders. They monitor probationers and parolees and make sure they adhere to the conditions set by the court.

When probationers and parolees fail to meet the requirements of the court, officers make reports and recommend rearrest. Offenders face substantial penalties when they violate the terms of their probation. As a result, there is an element of danger to the job of a probation and community control officer.

What do probation officers need to do to get hired?

Typically, you need a bachelor's degree to be a probation or community control officer. The best degrees for the job are in criminology, psychology, sociology, or social work. Some agencies may also require some prior experience, either in abuse or criminal counseling or in customer service and public contact.

Many states also require academy training in addition to your college degree. An extensive background check is also often required because officers deal with sensitive information and are granted a great deal of authority.

How much do probation officers earn and what is the job outlook? 

According to the Federal Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the mean salary for probation and community control officers was around $45,00 in 2008. Some officers earned as much as $78,000 and some officers earned as low as $29,000. Earning potential depends largely on agency and location.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics anticipates that these jobs are going to become very competitive. In fact, there's a possibility that job opportunities may even decrease by -1 percent through 2022.

Is probation and community control the right job for you?

Probation and community control officers are dedicated criminal justice professionals whose goal is to help criminals better themselves and make an easier transition into a productive lifestyle. Strong interpersonal communications skills are a must.

Expect to undergo a rigorous hiring process when seeking a career in probation and community control. People looking to work in probation and community control must have high ethical standards and have a clear background.

Above all, probation and community control officers must be ready and willing to help their fellow citizens, even if they are convicted criminals, and they must balance their duty to help and monitor these criminals with their duty to help protect their community and society.