Federal Probation Officer: Career, Outlook and Education Info

Research what it takes to become a federal probation officer. Learn about job duties, education requirements, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Corrections degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Do Federal Probation Officers Do?

Former inmates in the federal corrections department are monitored by officials after their supervised release is confirmed. These officials are federal probation officers who work directly under the federal Department of Justice.

Federal probation officers supervise offenders who have been convicted of federal crimes and recently released from federal prison or sentenced to probation. The following chart gives you an overview of the requirements for becoming a federal probation officer:

Degree Required Bachelor's degree, master's degree may be required by some employers
Training Required Must attend the Federal Probation and Pretrial Services Training Academy
Education Field of Study Criminal justice, social work, behavioral sciences, or a related field
Key Responsibilities Supervise convicted criminals after their release from prison; ensure parolees comply with the terms of their parole; meet with parolees periodically and make referrals to community services
Job Growth (2014-2024) 4% (slower than average) for all probation officers and correctional treatment specialists*
Median Salary (2016) $47,048**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

What Are the Job Duties of a Federal Probation Officer?

According to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, it's the job of the federal probation officer to ensure that the person on probation does not violate the terms of his or her probation and leads a responsible and productive life. As a federal probation officer, you would monitor offenders and work to assimilate them back into society. Your job would be to see that offenders maintain employment, perform community service and attend any rehabilitation programs recommended by the court, such as drug, alcohol and psychological counseling (www.uscourts.gov). Overall, it would be your responsibility to ensure that offenders don't fall back into a life of crime.

What Is My Career Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists were expected to increase 4% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). Budgetary concerns and a renewed emphasis on probation in lieu of prison sentences are the primary reasons for the projected job growth PayScale.com reported that the middle range of probation officers and correctional treatment specialists earned $28,795 - $77,953 as of October 2016.

What Education Do I Need?

Probation officers are typically required to hold at least a bachelor's degree in psychology, social work, criminal justice or a closely related field of study, according to BLS. You could also earn a master's degree in one of these study areas, which is a requirement for some employers. Some employers also require applicants to take written examinations or to complete government training programs. The U.S. Courts - Probation and Pretrial Services National Training Academy, a branch of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center and Department of Homeland Security, provides an orientation and training program for newly-appointed federal probation officers (www.fletc.gov).

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Some related fields in the area of federal probation officers include social and human services assistants which need at least a high school diploma and special training. Police officers and detectives as well as substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors need bachelor's degrees. Another related career field is as a social worker which may need a master's degree depending on the state.

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