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Probation Officer College Courses and Training

Probation officers work with convicted criminals who have been placed under their supervision as an alternative to incarceration. Find out what college courses and degrees can prepare you for a career as a probation officer, and get more info about the job duties of this position.

What You Need To Know

Probation officer training programs teach students how to effectively monitor and supervisor offenders who have been placed on probation instead of serving time in a correctional facility. Specific probation officer programs aren't common, but an undergraduate degree in one of a few related fields will have relevant coursework.

Degree Options Bachelor's degree in psychology, sociology or criminal justice
Courses Counseling techniques, child psychology, human behavior, social work, criminal justice, ethics
Median Salary (2017) $56,630 per year

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Kind of Training do Probation Officers Need?

Probation officers are usually government employees, and the position often requires you to have a bachelor's degree in a field like social work, criminal justice or psychology. In addition to earning a degree, probation officers must complete a training program sponsored by the state or federal government and then pass a certification test before they can work professionally. These training programs cover topics such as the justice system in the individual state, interviewing and casework, safety measures for probation officers and how to monitor probationers. Because some probation officers may want to specialize in certain areas, such as domestic violence or juvenile cases, they may also receive specialized training in these areas.

How Can a Degree in Psychology Help Me?

A bachelor's degree program in psychology can give you insight into what offenders may be thinking when they commit crimes. Your coursework may include courses in subjects such as:

  • Counseling techniques
  • The effects of society on one's brain
  • Abnormal behavior
  • Child psychology and brain development

You can also find programs in forensic psychology that directly relate to psychology within the criminal justice system. Most likely, a practicum will be a part of your program requirements.

How Can a Degree in Social Work Help Me?

Your training in social work should give you experience in case management and providing resources for those in need. Once you become a probation officer, you can apply principles of problem solving and social policies learned in your studies to your client cases. Your coursework in a bachelor's degree program in social work may include courses in human behavior and social work practice. You are also introduced to facets of psychology.

How Can a Degree in Criminal Justice Help Me?

While in a degree program in criminal justice, you learn about the role the criminal justice system has within society. Your coursework provides information on the role that societal factors, including education, family and environment, have on crime and rehabilitation. You may also have the opportunity to study juveniles specifically, as well as the alternatives to incarceration.