What is the Job Description of a Probation Officer?

If you are applying to get the job of a 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 that they play a very vital role in criminal justice and society as well.

They work with NGOs, as well as religious bodies to perform some of their duties.

Some of the duties of a probation officer includes, carrying out investigation before trial, monitoring and evaluating 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, my guess is, 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 up to certain standards that could help them live  better lives after they are released.

A criminal may be sentenced to prison and/or probation.

In the case of a probation only, the criminal does not have to go to jail or prison. But have to meet certain standards or conditions.

Some of 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 is in charge of ensuring that 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 also encourage them not to go off track.

A good probation officer is an encouragement and motivation to probationers.

The role of a probation officer is very vital to maintain peace and order in the society.

By helping criminals become better and productive individuals, the crime rate is reduced.

The role of a probation officer is not just important to the society, but to the criminal justice system as well.

What are the duties and responsibility 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

It is the duty of a probation officer to provide necessary 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 organise rehabilitation programs.

The aim for conducting or organising such programs to to help probationers learn how to abstain from drugs, alcohol and/or 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 required conditions.

4. Keep case files 

It is also the duty of a probation officer to 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 references 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 and hard 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 the society.
  • Attend court hearings, and sometimes provide evidence.
  • Follow up 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 in probation are thoroughly screened, therefore, you should expect that.

Past criminal records and background will do you a lot of disservice during screening.

Therefore, it is important for prospective probation officers to have high ethical standards and clean records.

Here are some of the qualifications that are taken into consideration before a probation officer is employed.

Education requirements

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 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 organised and funded by the government.

After undergoing training, you will also have to pass the certification exam before you will be allowed to practice.

Experience required

Oftentimes, experience in criminal counseling, customer service or other related fields is also required.

Also, in most agencies, a newly employed probation officer will have to work as a temporary staff for a year before permanent employment is given.

While working as a temporary staff, her or she trains under the supervision of a more experienced probation officer.

Probation officers have access to very vital and sensitive information and are also endowed with a lot of authority.

As such a thorough background and record check is carried out before employing any one into 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, as well as the qualifications required of a probation officer, certain skills are also featured in a probation officer job description.

These skills help a probation officer perform his or her duties effectively.

During an interview, don’t overlook the importance of making reference to these skills.

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 both 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 always remember that communication involves both 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 a probation officer to develop good relationships with probationers, prisoners, their families and colleagues as well.

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 certainly makes the work fun and easier.

3. Compassion

Even if a criminal commits that crime a probation officer considers the worst crime ever, the officer needs to be compassionate enough to still support the convicted criminal.

The officer has to remain sensitive to their needs, also in as much as the officer must also be firm and have a matured outlook, he also has to be as kind as possible.

But, being compassionate does not include overlooking court order or requirement violations.

4. Organisational skills

This skill plays a very important role when preparing and maintaining records and files.

Having good organisational skills also helps a probation officer handle more than one task at a time.

5. Critical thinking

A good probation officer must be able to strike a balance between being compassionate and riding the society of crime.

Therefore, officers have to come up with the best methods and techniques for helping criminals without causing harm to the society.

6. Integrity

Probation officers have access to a lot of sensitive information. 

Therefore they have to 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 judgement.

He should be able to easily identify when a criminal is guilty or not.

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 geographical location, experience, qualification and employer as well.

Where do probation officers work?

In most countries and States, probation officers are usually employed by the government.

Prison and probation office 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 require that they work in offices, as well as court and in the field as well.

Probation officers usually work full time, the number of hours may differ depending on location, and employer as well.

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 still 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, it can also be used by employers as a template to create a probation officer job description posting.

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