Parole Officer Requirements and Career Outlook

Parole officers supervise criminal offenders who have been released from prison. They monitor parolees and help them find suitable living arrangements. Parole officers meet with assigned parolees regularly and interview them about topics such as family and friends, housing, education, career opportunities, finances and potential substance abuse problems.

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Parole Officer Requirements

Education

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that the majority of parole, probation and other correctional officers needed at least a bachelor's degree related to psychology, social work or criminal justice to enter the field (www.bls.gov). Undergraduate degree programs in criminal justice generally cover correctional strategies, forensics, legal research, criminal psychology and offender rehabilitation. Administrative parole officer positions may require a graduate degree, along with extensive field experience.

Training

Some employers require workers to complete an additional officer training program prior to employment. Individuals might enroll in a parole officer training program, some of which confer an associate's degree; however, some states only offer probation officer training, which involves similar training procedures. Other states require parole officers to go through the same training program as police officers. Courses in these programs typically cover basic law enforcement, arrest control techniques, interviewing skills, case planning and parolee motivational techniques.

Other Requirements

Before becoming a parole officer, most applicants must pass a series of exams. Some test an individual's knowledge of working with parolees, while others evaluate an applicant's psychological well-being. Applicants also must pass a physical exam, and some agencies seek prospective parole officers within the age range of 21-37. Finally, applicants must clear a thorough background check.

Career Outlook

During the decade between 2012 and 2022, the BLS predicts that the number of jobs for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists will increase very little, if at all. Parole officer positions were expected to increase due to the regular flow of prisoners being released and assigned to parole officers. Additionally, as prisons become overcrowded and laws change, allowing prisoners to become paroled early, more parole officers will be needed to accommodate an influx of parolees.

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