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Probation Officer Certification

To become a probation officer, you'd likely need to complete a state-approved training program and a certification test. Continue reading to learn more about what probation officers do, what types of certifications exist, and how requirements vary according to each state.

What Does a Probation Officer Do?

Some individuals who are convicted of crimes are put on probation instead of being sentenced to jail. As a probation officer, your job would be to work alongside these individuals to ensure they meet the terms of their probation and to deter them from committing any further crimes.

Depending on the state you're employed in, you might be required to earn certification to work as a probation officer. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, you'll generally be required to complete a training program sponsored by the state or federal government. Such programs typically conclude with a certification examination (www.bls.gov). You could also find that some states hold individual counties accountable for training and examination.

Job ResponsibilitiesCheck in with clients to ensure they are obeying the law.
Certification May need to be certified in a specific field of work (i.e. juvenile probation) or the officer may receive a general certification.
Educational Requirements High school diploma or equivalent, on-the-job training; bachelor's degree is necessary in some states.
Additional RequirementsCPR certification, familiarity with firearm protocols, and/or peace officer training may be required by your state.
Median Salary (2018)*$53,020 (for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists)
Job Outlook (2016-26)*6% (for all probation officers and correctional treatment specialists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Types of Certifications Are Available?

You may only need certification in certain positions, such as a juvenile probation officer. In other instances, states might provide certification for multiple disciplines, including juvenile, adult and felony probation. In some states, you could receive a general certification, regardless of the type of people you monitor.

How Can I Earn Certification?

Some states require you to be at least 21 years of age prior to applying for the certification exam. Occasionally, a state could also require that you secure employment prior to participating in a training academy program.

Educational requirements for probation officers vary according to state. In some states, such as Michigan, you could need to attend seminars, while others, like New Hampshire, require you to complete certification training programs through a corrections academy. You might need to have earned a bachelor's degree or complete some graduate training to be eligible for certain certifications and jobs, such as a juvenile probation officer in Texas. Topics covered through your training and certification exams can include firearm protocols, state regulations, supervision techniques, adult and juvenile laws, offender management, defensive tactics and proper communication methods.

What Other Requirements Must I Meet?

Some states require you to be employed or have certain experience prior to being fully recognized as a probation officer. For example, in Arizona, you might need to complete a year of service as part of your training. In order to provide necessary emergency medical treatment, some states require you to be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid. You could also need to be trained on how to safely apprehend and take care of offenders by completing peace officer training programs.

All certifications require maintenance on a regular schedule. The length of time your certification is valid depends on your current employment status and the state in which you work. To maintain certification, many states require you complete continuing education training to stay current in officer techniques and to further develop your career skills.