Parole Officer

A parole officer is a law enforcement official responsible for the care of individuals after they have been released from prison. This person is meant to ensure that parolees transition into society in a smooth, crime free manner. They must oversee the actions of former convicts until those individuals are no longer in need of supervision. This can be a tough career with a lot of risk involved, but it can also be a highly rewarding one. Parole officers get to spend their days potentially improving the lives of people who got off to a bad start. If you have a compassion for others and a sternness that cannot be matched, this may be the career for you.

Job Duties for Parole Officers

The job duties of a parole officer will vary from one place to the next, but the overall job description remains about the same for all parole officials. Parole officers counsel with parolees before, during, and after their release from prison to ensure that they are safe enough to be in public society. They also work with these individuals to make a plan for their housing, employment, insurance, education, and other forms of rehabilitation before the parolees are released. A parole officer is in charge of making sure that a parolee leads as normal of a life as possible once he or she gets out from behind bars. This is a difficult task, but it is one that you may be able to handle with the right education and training.
Most parole officers will be asked to attend court sessions to make recommendations for parolees based on their observations. They may recommend that a person is given a certain amount of freedom that he or she does not have, or they may recommend that a person be put back into the prison system. The average parole officer has 70 to 130 parolees to monitor at all times, which can make this job quite intense. The nature of this line of work is also very dangerous, which is why parole officers carry firearms with them at all times. That way they can protect themselves and still get through their work as they need to.

Education and Training for Parole Officers

If you want to become a parole officer, you will need to get a bachelor’s degree in a field related to law enforcement or counseling. Possible degree options include:

  • Criminal justice
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Corrections
  • Social work
  • Business administration

Within those degree programs, you will learn how to work with people who have dangerous backgrounds so you can deal with parolees on a regular basis. Most students spend four years in school before they start work in the field, but you may be able to get out of school sooner if you can get your degree online. That way you can pace your education to get into your career as soon as possible. If you plan to work at a federal level, you may need some graduate level education before becoming a parole officer.

Pay Rates for Parole Officers

The salary you earn as a parole officer will vary based on where you work and what level of position you hold. Parole officers make decent incomes when they first start off their careers, but those salaries double by the time they reach the end of their career. If you have been looking for a job with solid income opportunities for the future, this could be a great option for you. Possible pay levels may include:
Parole Officer Salary by Industry

  • State Government Annual Mean Wage: $52,860
  • Local Government Annual Mean Wage: $52,750
  • Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Hospitals Annual Mean Wage: $49,810
  • Facilities Support Services Annual Mean Wage: $42,400
  • Residential Mental Retardation, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Facilities Annual Mean Wage: $38,710

National Estimates of Annual Mean Wages

  • Lowest 10% Annual Mean Wage less than: $31,210
  • Twenty-Five Percent Annual Mean Wage: $36,920
  • Annual Median Wage: $47,840
  • Seventy-Fifth Percentile Annual Mean Wage: $64,810
  • Top 10% Annual Mean Wage more than: $82,140

Top Paying States

  • California Annual Mean Wage: $77,230
  • Conneticut Annual Mean Wage: $73,180
  • New Jersey Annual Mean Wage: $68,870
  • New York Annual Mean Wage: $64,900
  • Minnesota Annual Mean Wage: $62,570

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References

  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/probation-officers-and-correctional-treatment-specialists.htm (visited February 08, 2013).
  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2011, Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211092.htm (visited February 08, 2013).