Parole Officer Careers: Salary Information & Job Description

About this article
A parole officer's median annual salary is around $49,000. Is it worth the education and training requirements? See real job descriptions and get the truth about the job outlook to find out if becoming a parole officer is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Parole Officer Career

Working as a parole officer allows you to serve the public and assist offenders with bettering their lives. You may want to evaluate the pros and cons of the job before deciding if this is the right career for you.

Pros of Becoming a Parole Officer
Jobs available in every state*
Wage incentives available for advanced education**
Can improve an individual's quality of life*

Cons of Becoming a Parole Officer
Low earnings for education (median wage of $49,060 in May 2014)
Long hours (may be on-call 24-hours a day)*
Heavy workloads and strict deadlines*
Little to no job growth (-1% from 2012-2022)*
High stress work*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **American Probation and Parole Association.

Career Information

Job Description

Parole officers are responsible for monitoring the behavior of criminal offenders who have recently been released from prison. You're responsible for monitoring for new criminal activity, along with helping offenders integrate back into society. To help offenders under your supervision, you may meet with offenders and family members at their homes and discuss ways everyone can work together to ensure the offender doesn't end up back in prison. You may assist them with finding public services, counseling and work.

There are physical risks that come with the job due to interaction with criminal offenders who may be mentally unstable, violent or otherwise dangerous. Stress is also high in this profession due to the long list of responsibilities, high work volumes, frequent deadlines and day-to-day contact with individuals who are upset, angry or resistant to assistance. However, some individuals may find this work rewarding and enjoy helping people to better their lives.

Job Prospects and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), probation officers and correctional treatment specialists were expected to see a -1% job growth from 2012-2022. The BLS noted that the need for these workers will depend on government funding at the state and local levels.

As of May 2014, the BLS reported that the sector with the highest level of employment and the highest pay was state government agencies. PayScale.com reported in July 2015 that the 10th-90th percentile earnings for parole officers were from $31,000-$74,000. This figure included salary and bonuses. Additionally, the BLS estimated that probation officers averaged $53,000 in 2014.

Career Skills and Requirements

You'll have to complete a bachelor's degree in an area such as social work, criminal justice or psychology. Some employers may require or prefer a master's degree; this may also gain you advancement, as well. Typically, new hires undergo agency training. Written, psychological and physical tests are usually part of the hiring and application process. Some agencies may also have age restrictions. Most agencies require a clean criminal background and some require drug screening. A valid driver's license is also commonly required. In addition, candidates also usually need:

  • To have a solid mental state
  • Be knowledgeable about laws and the legal system
  • To have computer skills

Job Postings from Real Employers

The qualifications for parole officer positions can vary; however, employers typically look for individuals with communication, decision-making and organizational skills. State agency job postings showed that there was a general trend for employers to require applicants to complete application processes, including tests and reviews of past education and experience. While the following job posts only provide a small glimpse into the field at large, you will get an idea of what state employers were looking for in March 2012:

  • A Georgia agency looking for parole officers requested that applicants were at least 21 years old and met all state peace officer standards. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree and 1 year of experience.
  • A California agency was looking for candidates who were current state employees and had completed a parole officer apprenticeship. The prospective parole office would be responsible for organizing and assisting parolees.
  • A Missouri agency is seeking a parole officer that has completed safety training, and it allowed work experience to be substituted for education. Applicants must conduct interviews, maintain contact with offenders, prepare reports and communicate concisely.

How Can I Stand Out?

Communication and writing skills are highly regarded in the field; therefore, you may want to consider taking additional communication courses within your undergraduate education. Completing advanced education, such as a master's degree program, is another way to demonstrate your commitment to the field. Master's degree programs provide you with advanced theories in crime, research methodology, corrections and public policy. Some states may offer wage incentives for parole officers with higher degrees, according to the American Probation and Parole Association. Additionally, some employers require you to complete physical assessments; therefore, you may want to maintain good physical fitness.

Alternative Career Paths

Correctional Officer

If you are concerned about having to get a bachelor's degree, then you may consider an alternative career that requires less education, such as correctional officer. Correctional officers usually are trained through an academy once hired. To obtain a job, you usually only need a high school diploma. In this career, you still work with offenders and have a chance to help with their rehabilitation. However, this career is projected to experience a slower than average growth of 5% between 2010 and 2010, and your wages will be a bit lower ($43,000 mean wage as of May 2011), stated the BLS.

Human Services Assistant

If you're interested in helping others improve their situations, but aren't sure if you want to work with criminal offenders, you could become a human services assistant. Human services assistants provide assistance and aid to clients in need. Work in this field typically only requires a high school diploma and some on-the-job training; however, employers may prefer some postsecondary education. While the job outlook for human services assistants is growing at a faster-than-average trend (28% from 2010-2020), the wages are quite a bit less than a parole officer, with the mean wage at $31,000 as of May 2011, stated the BLS.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master: Criminal Justice
      • Master: Criminal Justice
    Bachelor's
      • BS in Corrections
      • BSCJ: Juvenile Justice
      • Bachelor: Criminal Justice
      • BSCJ: Law Enforcement
    Associate's
      • Associate: Criminal Justice
      • AAS in Criminal Justice and Criminology
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Regent University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Law - Criminal Justice
      • Master of Arts in Law - National Security
      • Master of Public Administration - Emergency Management and Homeland Security
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice - Corrections
      • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Criminal Justice
      • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
      • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice - Law Enforcement
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      • Bachelor of Arts in Law and National Security
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Saint Leo University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BA: Criminal Justice
      • BA: Criminal Justice - Criminalistics
      • BA: Criminal Justice - Homeland Security
    Associate's
      • AA: Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    4. University of the Southwest

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA - Law Enforcement & Corrections
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Criminal Justice
      • PhD in Business Admin - Criminal Justice
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Homeland Security: Leadership & Policy
      • PhD in Business Admin - Homeland Security: Leadership & Policy
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      • MS - Organizational Leadership: Criminal Justice
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  • Online Programs Available
    6. Benedictine University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MPH - Emergency Preparedness Focus
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Utica College

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Data Science: Financial Crime
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation
      • BS in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation - Financial Investigation
      • BS in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation - Fraud Prevention and Detection
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Baker College Online

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Criminal Justice - Bachelor
      • Law Enforcement Academy (Police) - Bachelor
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    High School Diploma
      • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
      • HS Diploma
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Admin
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Admin
      • Undergraduate Specialization - Criminal Forensics

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • Master: Criminal Justice
  • BS in Corrections
  • Associate: Criminal Justice

Which subject are you interested in?

Regent University

  • Master of Arts in Law - Criminal Justice
  • Master of Arts in Law - National Security
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice - Corrections
  • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Criminal Justice

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Saint Leo University

  • BA: Criminal Justice
  • BA: Criminal Justice - Criminalistics
  • AA: Criminal Justice

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University of the Southwest

  • MBA - Law Enforcement & Corrections

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Northcentral University

  • Doctor of Business Admin - Criminal Justice
  • PhD in Business Admin - Criminal Justice
  • MS - Organizational Leadership: Criminal Justice
  • MBA - Criminal Justice

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Benedictine University

  • MPH - Emergency Preparedness Focus

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Utica College

  • MS in Data Science: Financial Crime
  • Bachelor of Science in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation
  • BS in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation - Financial Investigation

What is your highest level of education completed?

Baker College Online

  • Criminal Justice - Bachelor
  • Law Enforcement Academy (Police) - Bachelor

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