What Does a Parole Officer do?

Employed by local governments or the state, parole officers supervise and counsel convicts once they are released from prison. It is their job to ease the transition process for the convicts, helping them settle within a community. A parole officer is required to keep a regular check on the convicts once they are released on parole, set up meetings, and ensure that the terms of release are being met.

Duties and Responsibilities of a Parole Officer

Parole officers are considered peace officers and perform duties that are similar to social workers. Gatekeeper to the outside world, a parole officer helps the parolees make changes in their lifestyle, assist in the process of rehabilitation. Some of their other duties include

  • Assisting in finding a place to live, outline goals for education, and/or establishing plans for employment.
  • Encouraging good behavior in the community.
  • Regularly set up meetings with the offenders to see if they are meeting parole laws.
  • Occasionally meeting family members and friends to see if the parolee is staying away from trouble.
  • Ensuring that all court hearings and meetings with counselors are being carried out on schedule.

Education & Career Info

Education RequiredBachelor’s Degree
Training RequiredShort-term on the job training
Key SkillsEffective Communication, Critical Thinking, Organizational Skills, Pattern Recognition, Reasoning and Decision Making
Job Growth (2020-2030)4% (Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists)
Average Mean Salary (2021)$63,290 per year (Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2020) and O*Net Online

Steps to Become a Parole Officer

Paired with offenders, a parole officer is hired by government agencies to uphold the law. It is the job of a parole officer to identify and respond to any parole violations. To become a parole officer, applicant must be of 21 years of age and have no felony criminal background. Some of the other basic requirements are

1. Earn a Degree

  • Most states require parole officers to have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or related field.
  • During the degree, students focus on law enforcement, behavioral science, psychology, ethics, family services, and data analysis.
  • Students are also required to complete internship as part of the program to gain practical experience.
  • Some students opt for master’s degree in criminal justice to advance in this field.

2. Undergo Background Check

  • To become a parole officer, it is important to get a clearance on your background.
  • Applicants are screened for any felony charges, driving violations, convictions, and misdemeanors.
  • Personal and professional references are also checked.

3. Pass Government Exam

  • To qualify for parole officer job, applicants are required to take a government exam.
  • It tests them on their knowledge in law enforcement and criminal justice.
  • Institutions specific questions are also asked.
  • Different states, counties, or federal government can administer the exam.

4. Complete the Training Program

  • States require parole officers to complete a training program during the first year of their employment.
  • A paid program, its duration is between four to six weeks.
  • Some training programs are more advanced and can take several months.

5. Finding Job as a Parole Officer

  • Look for the right opportunities and seek jobs posted by the state department.
  • The possible job titles for this career include parole agent, correctional officer, probation officer, and community supervision officer.

Parole Officer Salary and Career Outlook

Before applying for any particular role in this field, keep in mind your skills and specific interests. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) 2021, the employment of Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists is projected to grow 4% from 2020 to 2030. Below are the states with the highest employment level for Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists.

StateEmployment 
California14,970
New York5,720
Texas5,180
Florida4,630
Pennsylvania4,300

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021)

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has reported the mean annual salary for parole officers to be $63,290 (2021). Below are the top paying states for Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists.

 

StateAnnual Mean Wage 
California$94,650
Connecticut$89,960
Massachusetts$83,980
New York$77,270
New Jersey$75,040

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021)