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Probation officer: pros and cons to consider

If you’re at least 21, can pass background checks, and have an interest in helping others and in law, then perhaps a probation officer career is for you.

A probation officer monitors offenders. Photo by Rob! on Flickr.A probation officer is responsible for keeping track of convicted felons and supervising those individuals upon release from prison. In the United States, some prisoners have the right to seek parole, which lets the individual leave prison prior to completing the original sentence. A probation officer ensures that the person doesn't commit violations that might land the person back in jail.


Unlike other law enforcement jobs that require years of experience and training, almost anyone can seek employment as a parole officer. You must be 21 years or older, and you must pass certain checks and tests before working in the field, such as:


    • A drug test.
    • A credit check.
    • A background check.

Depending on where you live, you might also need a probation officer certification. If you pass the probation officer requirements, you can start working on a probationary basis. Many cities require that officers work for a year or longer before seeking full-time employment.


There are a number of benefits to working as a probation officer, including the variety of career opportunities. In addition to working in an office, you might work in a group home or correctional setting. Some prisons hire probation officers to oversee those seeking parole and to help the prison board determine the best candidates.

Probation officer career paths also include positions within the federal government.

Start your probation officer education today!


While there are various benefits associated with the job, you also need to think about the potentially negative aspects of the job. There is always a chance that you might find yourself in a bad situation with an armed felon, and you risk losing a paroled prisoner who later commits a serious crime.

Some people also feel uncomfortable carrying a weapon, which many officers do.

You might find it difficult to locate probation officer schools in your area. There are also some workers who dislike the probationary period enforced by many offices.

During the first year that you work as a probation officer, you might find yourself in dangerous situations without proper guidance or support. During this period, you might not have access to health or insurance benefits.

Probation officers have an important job because these people are responsible for keeping offenders from harming others in the community. When you need information about the starting salary of probation officers, the benefits of the job, and probation officer training, look to Reply! for help. You can even compare the position to other jobs in law enforcement to see which ones grab your interest.

There are thousands of men and women working as officers across the country, and by learning what you need to do and the training involved, you can decide is a probation officer career is right for you.

Photo credit: Rob! via Compfight CC.