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Parole officers typically work on the state or federal level. The parole officer works with a variety of people from the offender all the way to the community. Due to the nature of the parole officer’s position, they must have strong communication and listening skills, excellent time management skills and be proficient at teaching. Find training at a top criminal justice school near you.
A parole officer must be 20 years old minimally. Because a bachelor’s degree is necessary for the field, a potential parole officer should focus their studies on areas such as psychology, criminal justice, criminology, social work, counseling, and/or business administration.
To become a parole officer on the federal level, one year of graduate work in psychology, sociology or counseling is usually required, as well.
In addition to college, to become a parole officer you must have a valid driver’s license and you must attend the required certification and training course. Parole officers carry handguns in most states so a state issued license to carry is also required. There is also a background screening, drug testing, and psychological evaluation.
Each state may also have their own requirements so it’s best to discuss what is needed with a representative in your own state.
Usually employed on the state level, parole officers monitor recently released offenders. Criminal offenders, upon release from prison, are given a set of rules they must follow. It’s up to the parole officer to monitor them to be certain they are following their rules. The parole officer might test the released offender for drug usage, monitor employment and monitor the offender’s whereabouts. They may also meet with the offender and family weekly or biweekly. The parole officer also gathers evidence to present to the judge in the event that parole was violated. There is also paperwork and reporting that is an integral part of the job.
Parole officers are commonplace in courtrooms because they attend hearings and make recommendations to the parole board regarding the offenders they are in charge of.
It is common for a parole officer to have a caseload of 70-100 offenders at any given time. Because they work with convicted criminals, the job can be a bit stressful and dangerous but they are trained to handle situations that may arise.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the average salary of parole officers was $63,290 in 2021, with the top 10 percent averaging closer to $99,090. The BLS also predicts that by 2030, employment of parole officers will increase 4 percent. While this is slower than the national average, becoming a parole officer should remain a good career to pursue.
Interested in a career as a parole officer? Try our introduction to criminal justice practice test.