Probation officer requirements

Were you ever a peer counselor at school and enjoyed helping others in need? Do you tend to see the good in most people? Are you someone who is interested in a job in the field of criminology? If you identify yourself with any of these traits, then perhaps you should consider a job as a probation officer.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, probation officers work with newly released criminals to make sure they do not violate their probation terms and prevent them from committing future crimes. Due to the nature of the people they work with, combined with the shortage of government funding in this area, probation officers work in very high stressed environments. However, because of the high turnover in this field, there is always a demand for people in these roles.
An undergraduate education is required for students who are looking to pursue a career as a probation officer. Students may choose to specialize in criminology at a university or go through probation or correctional officer studies at a local community college.
Here are some of the skills and qualities required to be successful as a probation officer:
• Communication: They are assigned a number of cases and are required to communicate with each person on a regular basis to make sure they adhere to the terms of the release. Sometimes, they may have to respond to emergency calls in the middle of the night, especially if one of their cases reoffended or violated his/her probation terms.
• People Skills: They definitely work many groups of people, including criminals, lawyers, judges, social workers, etc. depending on the nature of the case they take on.
• Understanding of the law and justice system: A background in criminology definitely can help with the understanding. While they are not an officer of the law, they will have to interpret the law and monitor their cases to make sure they do not step outside of the law and violate the terms of their release.
• Ability to work within the government system: Probation officers are civil servants and their work terms are subjected to government funding. With budget cuts at the state level, some of the probation officers are feeling the stress with increased workloads. They have to be able to adapt to the changing conditions in order to be successful at their jobs.
• Having faith in humankind: While they may work with criminals, not all of them have the same likelihood to offend. Some of them are willing to work towards rehabilitation and change in order to become a member of the society. As a result, probation officers need to have an open mind that not all of their cases will reoffend.
• High degree of tolerance: This is definitely not a cushy office job. While probation officers work in an office setting, they are also working in the field, depending on where their cases are located. Some of them work with hardened criminals who may be drug addicts or have a colourful past.
• Respect for diversity: Again, there is no one stereotype of a criminal. In order to be fair in treatment and have an open mind in decision making, probation officers need to respect and embrace diversity.
For more information on the career path of a probation officer, please contact your high school counselor.

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