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Probation Officer

Career Overview

Probation officers supervise criminal offenders who have been placed on probation. In many cases this sentence includes criteria set forth by the court; it is the probation officer's job to see that those criteria are met. In addition probation officers work with correctional treatment specialists to develop a plan for the offenders probationary period.

Probation officers track school or employment attendance, or employment search if that is necessary. They meet with each offender in their case load, often at the home of the offender and with his or her family. Probation officers write comprehensive reports on the success or lack of success in meeting goals, and provide the report to the sentencing judge.


Probation officers generally are required to have a bachelors or masters degree, depending on the jurisdiction. Degrees in criminal justice, psychology and social science are usually considered. Some experience in counseling is always valuable, and may be considered in lieu of some educational requirements in some jurisdictions.

Current Employment

In 2006 there were approximately 94,000 probation officers and correctional treatment specialists employed in the United States.

Job Outlook

Job opportunities for probation officer candidates are expected to grow at about the same pace as the average rate for all job classifications. Budget constraints at the state and local level may curtail this growth somewhat; on the other hand, probation sentences are increasing due to changes in sentencing laws.

Salary Range

Lowest 10%  $13.65  $28,400
Median Salary  $21.40  $44,510
Highest 10%  $36.34  $75,790

Source: U.S. Department of Labor

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