Work as a probation officer can be both challenging and rewarding. The job involves regular meetings with criminal offenders during a period of time to monitor their behavior. The officer's role is to ensure the offender meets probationary requirements and to report any violations to the court. The rewards of the job can come when you inform the court that someone has met the terms of his probation and is ready to be on his own.
Probation officers received a median annual salary of $47,200 in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Pay can vary based on location and the cost of living in certain urban areas. Additionally, income is likely to remain stable or grow as the bureau projected an 18 percent growth rate for probation officers and corrections specialists through 2020.
Careers in probation require a degree, but specifics vary based on agency and location. The common minimum for a career as an officer is an associate's degree in criminal justice, social work, psychology or a similar field. However, jobs with larger agencies that are more in demand often require a minimum of a bachelor's degree. Senior level or supervisory positions may even require a master's degree in one of the areas noted.
Investigation and Report
The two primary responsibilities of a probation officer prior to an offender's sentencing are investigation and report preparation. The officer interviews the offender, his family and anyone else who could offer insight into his potential rehabilitation. A review of financial documents, school and employment records is also conducted to determine the offender's ability to pay fines and restitution and to modify behavior during probation. Once complete, the officer prevents her finding to the court for using in sentencing, including setting of probationary parameters.
Following sentencing, the officer sets out a supervision plan that includes regular meetings and methods for monitoring the offender's behaviors. Meetings may occur weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. The offender may be required to share information about his employment and other activities. It is up to the officer to decide what safety measures and risk-prevention techniques are necessary with a particular offender. Monitoring personal and work relationships, restricting travel and requiring corrective treatment, such as with substance abuse, are all actions that officer may take.
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