Duties and responsibilities
An adult probation officer is responsible for ensuring that adult criminals comply with their court-ordered term of probation. They work with these adult offenders to keep them on the right track by helping them find employment opportunities, providing them with treatment options, and maintaining their progress along the way. Their typical duties and responsibilities include:
- Monitoring the offenders compliance with court-ordered terms and conditions of probation
- Attending dispositions and evidentiary hearings
- Meeting with offenders and instructing them in probation obligations, regulations and practices
- Establishing and maintaining a case file on each offender, including visits to home, workplace, and relevant sites in the community
- Preparing and presenting reports to Court on offenders compliance with probation
- Conducts records checks and detailed investigations of the offenders social history including
- Administering drug and alcohol testing where required
- Preparing referrals for mental health, counseling, substance abuse, or other evaluations and treatments and monitors attendance at and progress of treatment
To become an adult probation officer, you will need a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as social work, criminal justice or behavioural science. After this, you will need to complete a training program sponsored by the state or federal government. Finally, at the end of this training, you will be expected to pass a certification test.
Skills and relevant work experience
As well as the educational requirements adult probation officers will need skills such as:
- Decision making skills, as they will often need to be able to make effective, on the spot, decisions that have the best interest of the criminal in mind
- Social perceptiveness and open-mindedness as adult probation officers will have to work with lots of different people from different religions, cultures and backgrounds
- Empathy as adult probation officer will work with people who have had challenging lives and will need to offer them the deepest understanding and the ability to relate to their feelings
- Active listening as adult probation officers need to give their full attention to their offenders in order to build relationships based on trust and respect
- Communication skills, both written and verbal, as adult probation officers will need to clearly communicate their ideas with other professionals and the offender. They will also need to keep up-to-date and detail documentation
Adult probation officers will normally work normal full-time hours. However, some adult probation officers may have to work weekends or evenings. They may also be on call and therefore have to be available to attend any issue 24 hours a day. Due to understaffed probation services, adult probation officers may have to work overtime too.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for a probation officer was $54,290 in 2019. The lowest 10% earned less than $36,370 and the highest 10% earned more than $94,860. Adult probation officers can expect to earn in the region.
The employment of all probation officers is projected to grow 4 percent from 2018 to 2028, about as fast as all occupations. This is because, in many cases, rehabilitation is far more economically viable than incarceration. Adult probation officers can progress into more specialized roles, such as domestic or substance abuse offenders. Or, they can progress, with additional training, to more senior positions. Such positions include Senior Probation Officer or a team lead.