How to Become a
Parole Officer

Woman parole officer at her desk talking to a distressed client

If you are interested in providing a social service to your community, a career as a Parole Officer may be of interest to you. This article will provide you with useful information about what this job entails, education and training required for a Parole Officer, as well as pay and other useful resources.

What Does a Parole Officer Do?

A Parole Officer is a county or state employee who works with criminal offenders who have just been released from jail or prison. In this role, professionals will meet with parolees to make sure they are following the terms of their parole (conditional release from prison) and helping them readjust to life in their community. Parole Officers work in county and state parole offices, in courthouses and correctional facilities as well as out in the community.

Being a Parole Officer requires knowing the law and being able to enforce strict guidelines, which former offenders must follow. Typical responsibilities of a Parole Officer include:

  • Scheduling meetings with parolees

  • Helping them find employment

  • Administering drug and alcohol tests

  • Keep detailed records

Parole Officer Skills

Working as a Parole Officer can be challenging, as they are required to interact with former offenders who may try and avoid communication. Working in this field poses potential safety risks that come when dealing with violent offenders and working in areas with high crime rates. To succeed in this role, individuals need to be able to possess interpersonal and communication skills, the ability to problem solve and empathy. Being able to remain professional in stressful situations and exhibiting authority is essential to this job.

Other key Parole Officer skills include:

  • Time management

  • Report writing

  • Active listening and communication

  • Strong ethics

  • Patience

How Do You Become a Parole Officer

Education and Training

While individual states may have their own qualifications for a Parole Officer, the typical educational requirement is the completion of a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, criminology, psychology or social work. As this field is incredibly competitive, you may consider obtaining a master’s degree to increase your chances of finding employment.

Most employers provide on-the-job training for up to one year; however, it may be advantageous to have some experience in the field beforehand. Volunteering or interning at a social services office, courthouse or a correctional institution can count in lieu of any working experience.

Finding a job

As the U.S. population increases, so will crime rates. Parole Officers will be needed to work with ex-offenders to rehabilitate them after completing their sentences. As such, The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 4 percent increase in jobs for Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists, with 2,130 new jobs created through 2024.

A detailed Parole Officer resume that highlights educational and professional experience is necessary to finding employment. Search online for Probation Officer jobs. A cover letter should serve in addition to your resume to outline your strengths and skills, and explain to prospective employers why you would excel in this field.

Insights from a Parole Officer

In the following section, you can get a more in-depth look at a Parole Officers day to day with actual answers from the professionals in the business.

What is the common career path for a Parole Officer?

The first thing you should focus on is obtaining a bachelor's degree in one of the following fields of study: Criminal Justice, Psychology, Social Worker, Sociology, Counseling or Business Administration. It is recommended to be enrolled in a graduate program or have at least 1 year of graduate school in your resume for federal employment.

What should someone consider before becoming a Parole Officer?

Parole officers are sometimes required to be on call and in some cases may be required to be available twenty-four hours a day. Parole Officers are expected to interview prisoners inside jails. Having to be in the same room with convicted felons can be stressful. Mental toughness is key.

What type of person excels in this job?

People with good communication skills, great human relations, with the ablity to encourage and think criticaly.

What are some of the most important skills for Parole Officers to have?

A Parole Officer must have a good judgment towards any situation. The ability to make the right decision and always follow protocols.

What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of being a Parole Officer?

Parole Officers play an important role in society and in the overall enforcement of the law. But most importantly they help offenders assimilate right back into society and help the overall community which by far is the most rewarding aspect of this job.

How Much Do Parole Officer Get Paid?

Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists earn a median hourly rate of $23.73. The highest paid ones make $41.41 per hour; while the lowest paid make $15.82 per hour.

Top 10 States for Parole Officer Salary

Parole Officers in the following states make the highest median hourly wage in the U.S.

    California

    $40.56

    New Jersey

    $35.48

    Iowa

    $33.26

    District of Columbia

    $32.78

    New York

    $32.37

    Illinois

    $31.68

    Alaska

    $29.41

    Michigan

    $29.09

    Minnesota

    $28.90

    New Hampshire

    $28.62

    Parole Officer Resources

    These resources can help you find out more information about becoming a Parole Officer.

    On the Web

    Parole Agents Association of California (PAAC)
    Mission is to improve the standards of the parole profession, and to foster the welfare of those engaged in the profession

    Kaplan University
    Information about a bachelor’s of science degree in Criminal Justice.

    Professional Groups

    American Probation and Parole Association
    International organization with members in pretrial, probation, parole and community-based corrections, in both criminal and juvenile justice arenas.

    Association of Paroling Authorities International
    The recognized voice for the highest professional standards of responsible parole practices.

    Books

    Officer Survival for Probation and Parole Officers
    Information to improve safety procedures for Probation Officers.

    Performance-Based Standards for Adult Probation & Parole
    Standards covering all major areas, including: offender behavior, compliance, supervision and responsibility; staff training and development; safety, security and efficiency; and community protection.