If you're sympathetic to people in difficult situations but also know how to be assertive when you need to be, then becoming a probation officer or correctional treatment specialist may be for you. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), probation officers and correctional treatment specialists work in the field of law enforcement to monitor offenders and prevent them from committing new crimes. This includes deciding on the best course of rehabilitation, providing resources like job training, and writing reports on their progress.
Becoming a probation officer or correctional treatment specialist often requires a bachelor's degree in social work, criminal justice, behavioral sciences, or a related field, according to the BLS, and sometimes even requires a master's degree. Comparing online schools for law enforcement can help prospective students see what programs meet their needs. In addition to education, having the following qualities may also help: critical thinking skills, communication skills, organizational skills, decision-making abilities and emotional stability.
Attending probation officer schools may help you acquire the skills and qualities necessary to help you land a job in the field.
How much do probation officers make?
According to the BLS, as of May 2013 probation officers and correctional treatment specialists in America made a mean annual wage of $52,910, with the lowest-paid 10 percent earning an annual wage of $32,010 or less and those in the top-paid 10 percent earning at least $84,160 annually.
The industry of employment can have an impact on salary. The top-paying industries for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists in America as of May 2013 were:
- Local government: $53,870 average annual wage
- Vocational rehabilitation services: $53,170 average annual wage
- State government: $52,970 average annual wage
As in all jobs, location can also affect pay in this career field. As of May 2013, the highest-paying U.S. states, on average, include the following, according to the BLS:
- California: $76,540 average annual wage
- Connecticut:$75,530 average annual wage
- New Jersey: $74,70 average annual wage
The highest-paying cities for probation and correctional treatment officers were all in California in 2013. According the BLS, the top three metro areas were:
- Sacramento-Arden Arcade-Roseville, California: $88,170 average annual wage
- Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, California: $85,400 average annual wage
- Stockton, California: $82,510 average annual wage
What's the Job Outlook for Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists?
According to the BLS, "employment of probation officers and correctional treatment specialists is projected to show little or no change from 2012 to 2022." But don't get the wrong idea — this doesn't necessarily mean there will not be jobs available. In fact, as alternative forms of punishment such as parole continued to be used, demand will exist for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists. Another factor that could spur new jobs for the career is people leaving the field (perhaps to retire), to the point that "job opportunities should be plentiful for those who qualify," the BLS reports.