What Does a Probation Officer do?

A probation officer plays an important role in rehabilitating criminal offenders who have been sentenced to completing a probation program. It is the job of a probation officer to ensure that the juvenile or adult offenders comply with the court orders and fulfill probation requirements. A probation officer has to assist the offender in finding home, enrolling in an education program, or job placement. Eventually, probation officers play an influential role to help the offender find a positive role in a community.

Duties and Responsibilities of a Probation Officer

On orders of the court, a probation officer is required to meet criminal offender once a month to check on progress. Based on needs and overall assessment, it is the job of a probation officer to determine the level of supervision required. Some of their other responsibilities include


  • Helping offenders with counseling, housing, education, or job to be fully rehabilitated.
  • Monitoring activities to make sure the offender is not consuming drugs and alcohol, and to prevent them from committing any other crime.
  • Work in collaboration with social service and other law enforcement agencies to help the offender transition back into a community.
  • Evaluating and documenting probationer’s progress and preparing a comprehensive report for court officials.
  • Preparing pre-hearing investigation and testifying in court on behalf of the probationer.

Education & Career Info

Education & Career Info

Education RequiredBachelor’s Degree
Training RequiredShort-term on the job training
Key SkillsEffective Communication, Critical Thinking, Organizational Skills, Emotional Stability, Reasoning and Decision Making
Job Growth (2020-2030)4%
Average Mean Salary (2021)$63,290 per year (probation officers and correctional treatment specialists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021) and O*Net Online

Steps to Become a Probation Officer

Probation officers work for the state or federal government. To become a probation officer, a broad knowledge of the criminal justice system is required. An applicant must be of 21 years of age and clear criminal background check. Below are the steps to become a probation officer in the U.S.A.

Probation 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 is projected to grow 4% from 2020 to 2030. Below are the states that have the highest employment level for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists.

1. Earn a Degree

  • Probation officers need a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or related field like behavioral science, criminal law, social work, or psychology.
  • To advance in the field, applicants can pursue a master’s degree in criminal justice.
  • During the course, students are required to complete an internship program that prepares them for practical experiences.

2. Meet the General Requirements

  • It is important to hold a valid driver’s license.
  • Be younger than 40 years of age at the time of application.
  • Pass written competency exam, endurance tests, and clear criminal background check.
  • Applicants are required to pass physical and psychological test.

3. Apply for a Position

  • Be meticulous in your application form and make sure all requirements are met.
  • Applications are further scrutinized by panel interviews and oral examination.
  • Candidates are shortlisted based on their communication skills and how well they present themselves.

4. Complete In-Service Training

  • Once an applicant has cleared screening and selection process, the next step is to undergo on the job training.
  • Every state has its own requirements and district policies.
  • Training can last up to 12 months and includes defensive tactics, writing official reports, administering CPR and first-aid, and learning surveillance.
  • Probation officers are also trained to use firearms, practice investigation techniques, and learn court routine.
New York5,720

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


The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has reported the mean annual salary for probation officers to be $63,290 (2021). Below are the top paying states for probation officers.


StateAnnual Mean Wage 
New York$77,270
New Jersey$75,040

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