If you are applying to get the job of probation officer, then read this job description guide to see the duties and responsibilities you should expect.
The job of a probation officer involves supporting and helping criminals live better and more productive lives.
By reading the above sentence, you can already tell they also play a vital role in criminal justice and society.
They work with NGOs and religious bodies to perform some of their duties.
Some of the duties of a probation officer include carrying out an investigation before trial, monitoring and evaluating the probationer’s progress, and also helping family members maintain contact with probationers.
Since you are reading this free guide on the job description of a probation officer, I guess you are an aspiring probation officer.
On that note, I will sincerely advise that you read this guide carefully till the end.
What does a Probation Officer do?
Probation officers are criminology professionals who ensure that criminals meet certain standards that could help them live better lives after release.
A criminal may be sentenced to prison and/or probation.
In the case of probation only, the criminal does not have to go to jail or prison. But have to meet specific standards or conditions.
Such conditions include staying free from crime, alcohol, or drugs. Conditions may differ depending on the type of case.
Also, sometimes prisoners are released earlier than supposed on the note that they have met or will meet certain conditions.
Such release is called Supervised release, and a probation officer ensures all conditions are met.
They also ensure that criminals attend all necessary appointments and programs.
To be a good probation officer, you should be able to sense the mood of the probationer, predict their reactions and encourage them not to go off track.
A good probation officer is an encouragement and motivation to probationers.
A probation officer’s role is vital to maintain peace and order in society.
The crime rate is reduced by helping criminals become better and more productive individuals.
The role of a probation officer is important not just to society but to the criminal justice system as well.
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What are the Duties and Responsibilities of a Probation Officer?
Here are some of the duties and responsibilities commonly featured in the job description of a probation officer:
1. Advice Offenders
A probation officer must provide advice and information to probationers and their families.
An example of the information a probation officer provides to probationers is the condition for release.
2. Organise Rehabilitation Programs for Offenders
As a means of helping criminals become better people, probation officers conduct or organize rehabilitation programs.
Conducting or organizing such programs aims to help probationers learn how to abstain from drugs, alcohol, and crime.
3. Monitor the Progress of Probationers
Probation officers regularly interview probationers to evaluate and monitor progress.
They also conduct drug and alcohol tests to ensure compliance with the required conditions.
4. Keep Case Files
A probation officer also must prepare and keep records of all probationers.
As the probationer makes progress, the probation officer also updates the records.
These records are kept for future reference whenever the need may be.
5. Motivate Probationers
Probation officers encourage probationers. They serve as motivation to them.
They give probationers reason to stay on track even when it may look difficult for them.
Some other duties and responsibilities of probationers usually featured in the job description of probation officers include:
- Organise post-release services to help former probationers or inmates easily fit in as resourceful members of society.
- Attend court hearings and sometimes provide evidence.
- Follow up with probationers by visiting their homes.
- Supervise junior staffs
- Work with NGOs and religious bodies to assist prisoners and probationers.
- Serve as a link between the judge and probationer.
Whenever probationers fail to adhere to court orders and conditions, probation officers make reports and suggest rearrest.
Violators of court orders and requirements face serious penalties.
What Qualification is required to become a Probation Officer?
Individuals seeking a job on probation are thoroughly screened; therefore, you should expect that.
Past criminal records and the background will do you a lot of disservice during screening.
Therefore, prospective probation officers must have high ethical standards and clean records.
Here are some of the qualifications considered before a probation officer is employed.
Typically, a probation officer needs to have a bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree in sociology, criminology, psychology, or any other related field is more suitable for the job.
To improve your qualification, you can take some online training or courses. This is not mandatory, but it will certainly give you an advantage.
Training and Certification
In addition to a bachelor’s degree, most countries require a prospective probation officer to undergo training in an academy.
Such training is organized and funded by the government.
After undergoing training, you will also have to pass the certification exam before you are allowed to practice.
Experience in criminal counseling, customer service, or other related fields is often required.
Also, in most agencies, a newly employed probation officer must work as temporary staff for a year before permanent employment is given.
While working as temporary staff, she or she trains under the supervision of a more experienced probation officer.
Probation officers have access to vital and sensitive information and are endowed with much authority.
A thorough background and record check is carried out before employing anyone in that position.
Employers also look out for probation officers with basic computer and tech skills.
What Skills does a Probation Officer need to have?
Aside from the duties and responsibilities and the qualifications required of a probation officer, certain skills are also featured in a probation officer’s job description.
These skills help a probation officer perform his or her duties effectively.
Don’t overlook the importance of referring to these skills during an interview.
They should also be highlighted in your resume and cover letter as well.
Here are the skills commonly featured in a probation officer job description:
1. Communication Skills
Communication skills have a great impact on interpersonal skills.
Therefore a good probation officer should be able to properly communicate the technical and non-technical aspects of his or her job.
He or she should be capable of relating necessary information verbally and in writing.
It is also important to remember that communication involves speaking and listening.
As such, a good probation officer should be capable of speaking confidently; he should also be a good listener.
2. Interpersonal Skills.
It is also very important for probation officers to develop good relationships with probationers, prisoners, their families, and colleagues.
Developing a good relationship with probationers helps the officer know how to relate with each of them uniquely.
Also,, having a good relationship with colleagues makes the work fun and easier.
Even if a criminal commits that crime, a probation officer considers the worst crime ever, the officer needs to be compassionate enough to support the convicted criminal.
The officer has to remain sensitive to their needs, as much as the officer must be firm and have a mature outlook; he also has to be as kind as possible.
But, being compassionate does not include overlooking court orders or requirement violations.
4. Organisational Skills
This skill plays a very important role when preparing and maintaining records and files.
Having good organizational skills also helps a probation officer handle more than one task at a time.
5. Critical Thinking
A good probation officer must balance being compassionate and riding the society of crime.
Therefore, officers must develop the best methods and techniques for helping criminals without causing harm to society.
Probation officers have access to a lot of sensitive information.
Therefore, they must be trustworthy and sensitive enough to keep confidential and discrete information discrete.
7. Good Sense of Judgement
It is also necessary for a probation officer to have a good sense of judgment.
He should be able to easily identify when a criminal is guilty.
How much do Probation Officers make?
In the United States, the salary of a probation officer ranges from $34,630 to $94,770 per year.
With an average salary of $53,030 per year.
These figures may differ depending on your location, experience, qualification, and employer.
Where do Probation Officers Work?
In most countries and States, the government usually employs probation officers.
Prison and probation officers are the typical employers of probation officers.
What is the Nature of a Probation Officer’s Work Environment and Schedule?
Probation officers do not work in offices only; the job description of probation officers requires that they work in offices, the court, and the field.
Probation officers usually work full-time; the number of hours may also differ depending on location and employer.
Conclusion: Probation Officer Job Description Guide
By 2026, job opportunities for probation officers are expected to increase by 6%.
Although the job outlook is not as good as so many other occupations, the facts remain that there will be more jobs.
Therefore now is the perfect time to start up a career in probation.
This guide on the job description of a probation officer was written with applicants or aspiring probation officers in mind.
It is well-optimized to support your goal.
But, employers can also use it as a template to create a job description posting for probation officers.