Parole Officers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

If you are interested in this field, take college-prep classes. English, history, and the social sciences, as well as courses in civics, government, and psychology, are important subjects for high school students. Knowledge of a foreign language, particularly those spoken by larger immigrant and minority populations, will be especially helpful to a prospective parole officer. Some parole officer positions require fluency in specific foreign languages.

Postsecondary Training

Educational requirments for being a parole officer vary by state. Most states require a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, criminology, corrections, social work, or a related subject. A degree in public administration, law, sociology, or psychology may also be accepted. A master's degree, as well as experience in social work or in a correctional institution will make you a much more competitive applicant.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

In general, probation officers and correctional treatment specialists are required to complete a state or federal government-sponsored training program, after which a certification test must be passed. The American Probation and Parole Association offers an accredited program; however it is a program offered to agencies for their employees, not a program that a lone person can take. Upon completion of the program and certification testing, they work as trainees for up to one year before receiving a permanent position.

Other Requirements

Candidates for parole officer positions may be required to pass a background check and drug screening.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Parole officers begin gaining experience through criminal justice classes in college. When hired as a parole officer trainee, they generally will be mentored or supervised by a more seasoned professional.

Required skills include social perceptiveness, active listening, complex problem solving, coordination, judgment and decision making, and speaking. A probation officer must also have knowledge of law and government, public safety, psychology, security, customer service, counseling, sociology, and anthropology. Successful probation officers also have good clerical skills and the ability to use basic computer programs to perform their duties. To be a successful parole officer, you should be patient, have good communication skills, and have the ability to work well with and motivate other people.