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Career Profile: Probation Officer

Why Is Probation Monitoring a Job of Tomorrow?
Prison populations are expanding, increasing the likelihood that more low-level criminals will be placed on probation rather than incarcerated to help alleviate jail overcrowding. As a result, employment opportunities for probation officers, who oversee these offenders, are expected to grow 11 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Probation officers make an average salary of $45,500 annually.

What Does a Probation Officer Do?
Probation officers supervise those who have been put on probation. Instead of being sent to prison, some offenders are placed on probation. These individuals must stay out of trouble and adhere to various other restrictions, such as curfews and staying within a certain area. Probation officers ensure that the offenders obey required criteria, regularly contacting the offenders and their families to check up on their whereabouts. These contacts are typically done in the offender's day-to-day setting, such as his or her home or workplace. In addition to monitoring offenders, probation officers are also responsible for background investigations of the accused, preparing reports and recommending sentences for those undergoing trials.

What Kind of Training Do I Need to Become a Probation Officer?
Minimum education requirements for probation officers vary among states, though most states require that probation officers hold at least a bachelor's degree in social work, criminal justice, psychology or another related field. Many employers prefer applicants with relevant work experience, such as in probation, corrections or counseling.