Inside Probation Officer Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"Most Of My Clients Do Not Take Their Offenses Seriously And They Keep Making The Same Mistakes Over And Over. People Do Not Change...
I went into this field thinking that I would change peoples lives. I quickly found out that I was wrong. This job makes me hate people." (Probation Officer; 2013)

Career: 4 years of experience, currently based in Ohio, female
School: Studied Criminal Justice at Itt Tech in Ohio; completed Associate degree in 2010

"Writing Skills Paramount To Success...
What many people considering a career in law enforcement or protective services don't expect is the amount of writing that is involved. Probation and Parole Officers, in particular, are tasked with writing reports making adjudication and sentencing recommendations for the Court and with keeping copious documentation. Referrals to collaborative agencies also involve writing and form completion. People who struggle with writing will find a career in these fields frustrating and deadline-heavy." (Probation Officer; 2013)

Career: 12 years of experience, currently based in California, female
School: Studied Philosophy at University Of Nebraska At Omaha in Nebraska; completed Bachelor degree in 1994

"The Necessary Cycle Of Crime In Our Community...
Being a probation officer has surprised me. In the beginning, I wanted the job to try to make a difference and keep people from committing crimes again. After a few years though, I've realized that it's all a money game and that the law doesn't want people to stop committing crimes because if that were to happen, a lot of people would be without jobs. It's sad that it seems that a lot of our people are almost forced to commit crimes." (Probation Officer; 2013)

Career: 8 years of experience, currently based in Georgia, male
School: Studied Criminal Justice at South Georgia Technical College in Georgia; completed Associate degree in 2005

"Being Understanding And Punctual Is Very Important...
Being a probation officer isn't very exciting at all. You sit in an office and wait for your appointments to come in. Something you give them a drug test, other times you just talk to them." (Probation Officer; 2013)

Career: 9 years of experience, currently based in Indiana, male
School: Studied Probation Officer at Ball State University in Indiana; completed Associate degree in 2004

"I was surprised to find out that I would most probably need a Master's degree or Ph.D in order to be a counselor, and that a Bachelor's degree in Psychology or Behavioral Sciences would only get me a possible job in the Corrections field as a Probation Officer or a Classifications Officer in a prison. I am now working as a licensed insurance agent. I never thought I would be doing this, but I am helping people, and the pay is better than being a social worker, and I'm safer." (Probation Officer; 2013)

Career: 7 years of experience, currently based in Florida, female
School: Studied Behavioral Sciences (Psychology & Sociology) at Palm Beach Atlantic University in Florida; completed Bachelor degree in 1974

"Limited Impact Probation Has On Lives...
I was surprised at how much I enjoy my job. I was and am surprised at how little effect probation can have on someone's life. Inversely, the few people that are affected by it and change their lives make my career and what I do worthwhile." (Probation Officer; 2012)

Career: , currently based in Michigan, female
School: Studied Counseling at Oakland University in Michigan; completed Master degree in 2008

Career Background

Probation Officer

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Career Tips

"How To Be A Good Probation Officer...
To be an effective probation officer, you need to be calm, cool, and collective." (Probation Officer; 2013)

"Officer Or Social Worker...
A Probation Officer wears many hats: law enforcement, condition compliance, investigation, social work, service brokerage, Court officer, field officer, mentor, even chauffeur at times. Most importantly, probation officers provide reasonable, concise, lawful recommendations to the Court keeping the directives of community safety and victim reparation forefront. Part social work and part cop, probation officers provide skills-based support to the community, the Court, and their probationers which makes for a career in which no day begins or ends the same way. Writing and overall communication skills are imperative for success in this career field." (Probation Officer; 2013)

"Learn To Become Hard And Unmoved...
To be a good probation officer, you really have to be hard. If your skin is not tough, then this job is not for you. You have to punish people when they are crying and desperate. A lot of times, it seems as though you're kicking people when they're down so that you and everyone else can keep the job you've worked hard to get." (Probation Officer; 2013)

"Patience Is A Virtue...
To be a probation officer you have to have patience and determination. This job is very stressful and makes you want to drink a lot." (Probation Officer; 2013)