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. They 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. With probation, 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, which is called "supervised release." Probation and community control officers are the criminology professionals who are responsible for ensuring these conditions are met.
Probation and Community Control Officer Duties & Responsibilities
Probation and community control officers perform several functions within the criminal justice system. Duties of probation and community control officers generally 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
- Providing courtroom testimony
- Submitting status reports of probationers and parolees
- Arranging 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.
Probation and Community Control Officer Salary
The salary for this job can vary depending on location, experience, and employer.
- Median Annual Salary: $53,020
- Top 10% Annual Salary: $94,770
- Bottom 10% Annual Salary: $34,630
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018
Education, Training & Certification
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 a clean background.
- Education: Typically, job candidates need a bachelor's degree to be a probation or community control officer. The most suitable degrees for the job are in criminology, psychology, sociology, or social work.
- Training and Certification: Many states also require academy training in addition to a college degree. These training programs are typically sponsored by the state or federal government and require passing a certification exam at the end.
- Experience: Some agencies may also require some prior experience, either in abuse or criminal counseling or customer service and public contact. They may also require candidates to work as trainees for up to one year before being offered a permanent position.
- Background check: An extensive background check is often required before someone is hired for the job because officers deal with sensitive information and are granted a great deal of authority.
Probation and Community Control Officer Skills & Competencies
To be successful in this role, you’ll generally need the following skills and qualities:
- Compassion: Above all, probation and community control officers must be ready and willing to help their fellow citizens, even if they are convicted criminals.
- Critical thinking skills: They must be able to assess the needs of probationers before determining the best way to help them. They must also balance their duty to help and monitor criminals with their duty to help protect their community and society.
- Communication skills: Strong interpersonal communications skills are a must when interacting with probationers, family members, lawyers, judges, treatment providers, and law enforcement officials.
- Organizational skills: Probation officers and community control officers must be able to handle multiple cases at the same time.
The U.S. Department of Labor Statistics projects that employment in this field will grow 6 percent through 2026, which is slightly slower than the overall employment growth of 7 percent for all occupations in the country.
Employment growth in this field mostly depends on the amount of state and local government funding allocated to probation and parole systems.
Probation and community control officers usually work in a combination of places, including an office, the court, and in the field. Field work may sometimes be in high-crime areas or in institutions where there's a risk of violence.
Probation and community control officers usually work full time. Hours may vary, and they're often required to be on call for certain periods of time to respond to any issues with probationers or parolees.
Comparing Similar Jobs
People who are interested in becoming probation and community control officers can also consider some related careers, listed here along with their median salaries:
- Correctional officers and bailiffs: $43,510
- Police officers and detectives: $62,960
- Social workers: $47,980
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017