Probation officers monitor the activities of individuals placed on probation or parole. Most employers require candidates for a parole officer position to have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or related program of study, such as social work, human services, correctional administration or criminology. Because parole officers may be required to travel, they must possess a valid driver’s license in their state.
In addition to monitoring the daily activities of probationers, probation officers conduct investigations to determine the status the probationers’ living environments. They interview probationers’ families, employers, law enforcement agencies and social agencies that may have had personal contact with the probationers and parolees.
The salary of a probation officer is determined by the job classification or position type. Depending on the employer, newly employed probation officers may be placed in entry-level, intermediate-level or high-level positions. The salary ranges differ with each classification.
Most employers determine the salary range for probation officers based on years of experience. As a probation officer’s years of experience increase to the next level or salary schedule, employers may increase their pay by a certain percentage amount. Employers define each level of a probation officer’s job status by different terms. For instance, entry-level probation officers may be defined as trainees, and after acquiring a specific amount of years of experience, the trainee may reach the level of probation officer 1 or probation officer level 2.
Most employers require applicants for entry-level probation officer positions to possess a bachelor’s degree. However, candidates with master’s and doctorate degrees may occupy advanced-level and supervisory roles rather than beginning their career in entry-level positions. Applicants with specialized training and skills may also occupy higher-level positions.
The median annual salary for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists was $47,200 as of May 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,920, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $80,750. Salaries vary with full-time probation officers as opposed to part-time and on-call probation officers. The median salary for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists reflects the median gross salary for this occupation without including employee benefits, salary advances and travel reimbursements.