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What Are the Job Duties of a Parole Officer?

Parole officers work with parolees to help them re-enter society. Read on to discover more about the job duties of a parole officer, as well as education and training requirements, salary, and job outlook.

Parole Officer Job Description

Parole officers work with people who have been released from prison to make sure they are following the conditions of their parole. Parolees are typically released from prison early for good behavior or other circumstances, but they must live out the rest of their sentence with a set of rules. Parole officers meet with their clients to discuss their progress and make sure they continue to follow the rules. Sometimes they also check in with their families and visit their place of residence or their job. Additionally, they keep a watch on who their parolees interact with.

Parole Officer Job Duties

Parole officers not only monitor ex-inmates for behavior, but they also help them to re-enter society by providing information about resources such as job training or substance abuse counseling. They may also assist parolees in securing housing. Some parolees have a family they can stay with, but others must stay in housing that is developed for them and other parolees. Parole officers may check out the conditions of the neighborhood the parolee is staying in, for the parolee and others' safety. They also ensure that any mental health needs are being met for the parolee, and they may oversee drug testing and electronic monitoring.

Responsibilities and Work Environment for Parole Officers

Although the responsibilities of a parole officer involve aspects of counseling, guidance, and supervision for the parolee's wellbeing, parole officers must often testify in court to prove if their client has been meeting the standards set for them. They are often trained in areas of law enforcement, and may even carry a firearm. They must report if a parolee is showing signs of deviance, criminal activity or violent behavior.

The typical work environment can change day-to-day for parole officers. They commonly work full-time with additional weekend hours as needed, and may travel locally to correctional institutions, parolees' homes, places of employment, or to court. While parole officer duties may be the same, every case has its own set of challenges.

Parole Officer Education, Training, Skills, and Advancement

Requirements vary by jurisdiction, but becoming a parole officer typically starts with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, social work, behavioral science or a related field. Additionally, they must complete a state or federal sponsored training program, pass a test to gain certification and work as a trainee for 1 year, although this can vary by jurisdiction too.

Parole officers need strong skills in areas such as:

  • Communication
  • Critical thinking
  • Decision-making

They will work with many types of people including parolees, their families, judges, law enforcement, and lawyers. They need to be able to accurately assess the needs of each client and decide on a plan of treatment. Emotional stability is needed to deal with potentially hostile people and organizational skills are important for managing multiple cases at once.

Advancement to a supervisory position is possible through work experience and performance, and a master's degree in behavioral science, criminal justice, or a related field may be required in some cases.

Job Parole Officer
Education/Training Bachelor's degree in criminal justice or related field, on-the-job training (varies by jurisdiction)
Additional Requirements Certification test, 1 year as a trainee (varies by jurisdiction)
Skills Needed Communication, critical thinking, decision-making, emotional stability, organization
Average Salary (2019)** $43,502
Job Outlook (2018-2028)* 3% (for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists)

Sources: *Bureau of Labor Statistics; **PayScale.com