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Entry-level careers in the probation officer field include juvenile probation officer jobs, correctional probation officer jobs and parole officer jobs. As an officer progresses in his or her career, he or she can advance into a position such as that of deputy probation officer. Probation officer jobs can exist at the local, regional and nations levels, with national jobs typically requiring two years of field work before applying for open positions.
All probation and parole officers need to be comfortable with public speaking. People who hold probation officer jobs often prepare and argue cases for their clients before judges. Also, everyone interested in this field must be prepared for tough circumstances. These positions can feature long hours, relatively low wages and dangerous circumstances. Probation officers frequently enter high-crime areas, work with criminals and their associates and encounter impoverished situations.
Juvenile probation officers work with delinquent youths and closely monitor them. They meet with the youths, their families, school officials and other necessary parties to ensure that the offenders follow the terms of their probation. After gathering this material, the officers file reports and give recommendations to the courts about what treatments the courts should take. Other duties of juvenile probation officer jobs include having to search the juvenile, their room and property as well as scheduling drug tests when applicable.
It is necessary for juvenile probational officers to form close relationships with the juveniles that they oversee. This must be balanced by having to file probation violations and/or place sanctions on uncooperative parties. Juvenile probation officers need to be especially mentally strong and accepting of the many emotions brought about by this position.
Correctional probation officers work inside jails, prisons and probation agencies. Officers working inside correctional facilities keep track of the inmates, their behavior and their progress. These officers also help with creating release plans and helping inmates develop work skills that they might be able to use after they have been released. Agency correctional officers perform many of these same tasks and hold the titles of case managers or drug treatment specialists. Case managers assist in arranging for mental health, medical and substance abuse treatment services.
Parole officers start working with inmates before they are conditionally released from incarceration. They develop plans for them to successfully finish their sentences. Helping parolees adjust to society, parole officers set up plans for housing, employment, health care, drug treatment or screening and avoiding undesirable situations.
Sociology, psychology, social work and criminal justice majors primarily comprise the probation officer workforce. Select colleges offer a probation officer major, most of which are adult education programs. Probation officers must have a bachelor's degree and no felonies on their record.