Employment Outlook & Career Guidance for Parole Officers

Parole OFCParole Officers typically have workloads of between 80 to 120 active cases at one time. They supervise offenders; people who have been convicted of a crime and who have been in prison and are now on parole, by visiting offenders in their homes or at a parole office.  Other possible job titles for a parole officer may be parole agent, community supervision officer or a probation officer (although a probation officer and parole officer will complete varied different duties in some states).

What Type of Positions Can an Parole Officer Hold?

Most parole officers work for local, state, and/or the federal government.  A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in criminal justice, psychology, corrections, social work, sociology, counseling, or business administration is required in most states to pursue a career in this field.  Promotions to higher paid positions or positions with seniority require professional experience and often require a master’s degree in one of the above fields.  Federal parole officers commonly have an additional requirement of one-year of graduate level work in social work, psychology, or counseling.  Most parole officers begin as trainees, and will receive supervised on-the-job training for at least six months.

There are a number of requirements that must be met in order to obtain employment as a parole officer.  They include:

  • Candidates must be at least 20-years old
  • Must carry a valid driver’s license in the state they wish to obtain employment
  • Must complete the required training and certification courses required by county, state, or federal regulations
  • Must be certified in the state they wish to obtain employment
  • Must go through training prior to acquiring their first case
  • Must be licensed to carry a firearm in the state they wish to obtain employment
  • They must pass a drug test and background investigation

Some states require a parole officer work for 2-years (at the very least) in a corrections or counseling position before being considered for employment as a parole officer.

Learn more about how to become a parole officer.

Jobs Settings & Functions That Provide Positions for Parole Officers

  • Managing a large caseload of felons
  • Completing assessments of criminogenic need/risk
  • Referring offenders to appropriate treatment programs
  • Monitoring activities of offenders to ensure compliance with the releasing authority
  • Assisting offenders with finding and maintaining employment
  • Supporting offenders in the community; with family and friends
  • Identifying interests and activities to improve relationships
  • Conduct dispositions or pre-investigations of adults and juveniles
  • Conducting investigations
  • Preparing reports
  • Maintaining all documentation as it relates to each case
  • Monitoring financial obligations
  • Assisting in a prison setting and transporting felons as required
  • Conducting periodic screenings for drugs and alcohol use

Nearly all parole officers will work for a government agency at the local, state, or federal level, such as the US court system and the Department of Justice.  Some individuals will work in private offices, many travel to offenders homes, and/or some will choose to work specifically with juveniles at correctional facilities for non-adults.

Ways for a Parole Officer to Increase His/Her Salary

Aspiring parole officers, and those who have graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, psychology, corrections, social work, sociology, counseling, or business administration will find a great deal of competition upon entering the field.  Individuals, who wish to increase their salary and advance on the job, should consider earning a master’s degree from an accredited college or university.  If an individual wishes to work specifically with a particular population, such as juveniles or sex offenders, he or she must complete additional training.  Internships while attending college, experience working with youths and adults and volunteering are all recommended ways to get ahead and secure employment in this field.

Attributes Employers Often Look For When Hiring a Parole Officer

Because parole officers can work with dangerous individuals, and in dangerous situations or environments, it is necessary to have a number of attributes to succeed in this filed.  Just a few, include:

  • Patience
  • Ability to work in high stress situations
  • Effective communication
  • Good time management and organization skills
  • Ability to work with people from all walks of life and diverse backgrounds
  • Supervision skills

Networking Opportunities and Organizations for Parole Officers

In addition to networking with professors while in college, getting to know local law enforcement personnel, volunteering, and during internships, there are a number of associations to gain valuable information about becoming a parole officer.