Youth Parole Officer Careers: Job Description & Salary Information

About this article
What are the pros and cons of a career as a youth parole officer? Get real job descriptions and salary info to see if becoming a youth parole officer is right for you.
View available schools

Pros and Cons of a Career as a Youth Parole Officer

Youth parole officers are law enforcement professionals who are responsible for helping recently released juvenile offenders transition smoothly from prison into wider society. Learn more about the pros and cons of a career as a youth parole officer to make an informed decision about your future.

Pros of a Career as a Youth Parole Officer
Emotional satisfaction (you may experience tremendous satisfaction knowing that you are providing an essential service to the public)*
Minimal education requirements (a bachelor's degree and certification are typically all that's required)*
Government sponsored on-the-job training is usually offered*
There could be opportunities to advance to supervisory and/or administrative positions**

Cons of a Career as a Youth Parole Officer
Long, erratic hours (parole officers often work on-call, which requires them to be available 24 hours a day)*
High stress (you may be required to deal with people in many tense environments and situations)*
Heavy workloads (parole officers typically deal with many deadlines and a large volume of cases)*
Hazardous work environment (you may need to travel to relatively dangerous environments to visit clients)*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **State of Michigan.

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

As a youth parole officer, you'll serve as advocate and intermediary for juvenile ex-offenders, ensuring that they follow all of the conditions of their parole. You may guide parolees to various resources, such as job training or substance abuse counseling, in an effort to alter their behavior and reduce the risk of recidivism. Part of your job also involves communicating and cooperating with a variety of interested parties, such as parents, school officials and welfare administrators. Parole officers must also visit their clients on a regular basis, prepare pre-parole reports for board hearings and carry out investigations if former offenders are suspected of having violated the conditions of their parole.

Job Prospects and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies parole officers into the broader category of probation officers and correctional treatment specialists. The organization predicted that employment of these professionals would decrease by 1% from 2012-2022. Some employment need is still anticipated however, due to the trend of using alternative forms of punishment, such as probation, instead of long prison sentences, as well as the eventual release of individuals who are currently in prison. As of May 2014, probation officers and correctional treatment specialists earned a median annual wage of about $49,000.

Career Paths and Specializations

Virtually all parole officers work for local and state governments. There are typically several opportunities for advancement, the structure of which may vary depending on the agency. Regardless of agency, however, your likelihood of advancement is primarily based on your education level, experience and job performance. Some officers may elect to specialize in working with certain types of cases, such as domestic violence and substance abuse. Officers might also be required to perform the duties of both parole officers and probation officers.

What Are the Requirements?

Although the particular requirements for entry into this profession vary by state, juvenile parole officers are typically required to hold at least a bachelor's degree in law enforcement, social work or a related field. Students in these academic programs are trained in a variety of areas, such as criminology, social work practice, sociology and criminal justice.

In addition to formal education, prospective officers may also be required to accumulate supervised, on-the-job experience. Upon completion of this training, some states require that candidates pass a certification test and obtain state certification. Some states may also require newly hired parole officers to undergo a period of basic training. Apart from training and education, applicants must also pass written and physical examinations, psychological tests, drug tests and criminal background checks. Candidates are typically required to be at least 21 years old.

Useful Skills

You'll need to rely on a number of hard and soft skills to successfully complete your professional tasks. These may include the ability to:

  • Effectively communicate to a diverse array of individuals
  • Think critically and creatively to determine the best resources with which to provide ex-offenders
  • Interpret information and translate that interpretation into clear and concise written language to create reports
  • Organize a large number of cases in a way that is coherent and fosters efficiency
  • Conduct cost-benefit analysis to facilitate effective decision-making in former offenders

Job Postings from Real Employers

A May 2012 job search found several openings for juvenile parole officers across the country. Virtually all employers required applicants to hold at least a high school diploma, though more specific educational and experience requirements varied by employer. Certification or training could also be required. The following three job postings found during this search can provide an idea of the qualifications employers seek:

  • A juvenile agency in Wyoming advertised for a juvenile probation and parole officer with knowledge of the juvenile court system and department procedures, as well as family dynamics, child psychology and human behavior. The employer preferred candidates with at least a bachelor's degree in social work or a related field.
  • A government agency in New Mexico advertised for a probation parole officer with an associate's degree or equivalent experience who has completed the Corrections Basic Probation and Parole Officers Certification Training and who is trained in self-defense. Additionally, the successful applicant must complete defensive tactics and restraint courses, first aid training and CPR training within a year of hire.
  • A government agency in West Virginia looked for a probation and parole officer with at least a bachelor's degree in business administration, criminal justice, political science or a related field. Additionally, ongoing firearm training requirements must be met through the West Virginia Corrections Academy.

How to Stand Out

A way to stand out as a juvenile parole officer is by acquiring additional training through certificate courses and certification programs. By joining a professional association, such as the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA), you can gain access to continuing education resources, networking opportunities and career development courses. You could also consider enrolling in the APPA's specialized certification programs, which may provide you with knowledge in a variety of areas, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and sexual offender management.

Earn a Graduate Degree

According to the BLS, a graduate degree can be beneficial or even required to advance into a supervisory role. Preferred degrees are offered in areas such as criminal justice, psychology, sociology or social work. These 2-year programs are offered by a variety of higher educational institutions. It's often be possible to enroll in a flexible degree program that allows you to keep your current parole officer job, while you take classes during nights and weekends or online.

Other Careers to Consider

If you're interested in working with individuals awaiting trial or convicted of crimes but would rather work in a correctional facility on a predetermined schedule, a career as a correctional officer could be a better fit. Individuals who are interested in impacting society by providing social services and assistance to broad segments of the population in a fast growing career field might prefer careers as social workers.

Correctional Officer

Correctional officers, similar to youth parole officers, typically work with individuals who have been convicted of crimes and sentenced to terms in reformatory, jail or prison. Unlike parole officers, however, correctional officers are confined to work within institutions, like as jails and federal prisons, and have different responsibilities, such as supervising inmate activities, assisting with inmate counseling, conducting contraband searches and filing conduct reports. According to the BLS, job growth for correctional officers and jailers was predicted to increase five percent from 2010-2020. These professionals earned a median annual salary of around $39,000, as of May 2011.

Social Worker

Social workers are similar to juvenile parole officers, in that they act as intermediaries and advocates for individuals who need government assistance. As with juvenile parole officers, social workers may decide to work exclusively with young people. These professionals have many responsibilities that are similar to those of juvenile parole officers, such as making regular visits with clients and communicating with their families.

Unlike parole officers, however, social workers don't focus solely on rehabilitation and/or behavioral correction; rather, their emphasis is on the much broader life experience of clients. The BLS predicted that jobs for social workers would increase 25% from 2010-2020, which is faster than average. As of 2011, these professionals earned a median annual salary of around $54,000.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Purdue Global

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Master of Science - DNP Executive Leader
      • MSN-DNP Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
      • Master of Science - DNP Path (Doctor of Nursing Practice)
      • Master of Science -DNP Path Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
    Master's
      • M.S. in Health Education
      • MSPY - Forensic Psychology
      • MS in Psychology
      • Master : Business Admin
      • Master: Psychology/General Psychology
      • Master of Public Health
    Bachelor's
      • BS in Communication
      • BS in Criminal Justice - Socially Responsible Leadership
      • Bachelor of Science in Psychology
      • BSOM - Decision Management
      • Bachelor of Business Admin
      • BS in Finance
    Associate's
      • AASBA in Business
      • Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice
      • Associate: Business Admin.
      • Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Development
      • Associate of Applied Science in Human Services
      • Associate of Applied Science in Health ScienceNo Concentration
    Certificate
      • Professional Focus + Google Project Management Certificate
      • Certificate in Industrial/Organizational Psychology Graduate
      • Professional Focus + Google UX Design Certificate
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Ed.D in Teaching and Learning with an Emphasis in Adult Learning - Qualitative Research
      • Ed.D in Teaching and Learning with an Emphasis in Adult Learning - Quantitative Research
      • Doctor of Philosophy in General Psychology: Performance Psychology (Qualitative Research)
      • Doctor of Philosophy in General Psychology: Performance Psychology (Quantitative Research)
      • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
      • Education Specialist in Teaching and Learning
    Master's
      • M.S. Psychology with an Emphasis in Gerontology
      • M.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Human Factors
      • MA in Curriculum and Instruction
      • MS in Psychology: General Psychology
      • M.A. in Communication with an Emphasis in Education
      • M.Ed. in Secondary Education with an Emphasis in Humanities (ITL)
    Bachelor's
      • BS in Psychology
      • B.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Performance and Sports Psychology
      • Bachelor of Arts in Communications with an Emphasis in Interpersonal Communication and Human Relationships
      • Bachelor: Business Admin
      • BA in Digital Film - Screenwriting
      • Bachelor: Accounting
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Bryant & Stratton College

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BA - General Management
      • BBA Human Resources Management
      • BBA Medical Services Management
      • BS Human & Social Services
      • General Management (GM) - BBA
      • Health Services Administration - BS
    Associate's
      • Criminal Justice Studies - AAS
      • AS - Business
      • AS - Criminal Justice
      • AS - Accounting
      • AS - Human Resources Specialist
      • AS - IT Networking
    Certificate
      • Business Assistant Diploma
      • Criminal Justice and Security Services Diploma
      • Business - AAS
      • Business Assistant - Diploma
      • Criminal Justice and Security Svcs. - Diploma
      • Accounting Assistant Diploma
  • Campus Locations:
    4. Universal Technical Institute

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Aviation Maintenance AAS
    Certificate
      • Collision Repair and Refinish Technology
      • Motorcycle Technician Specialist
      • Automotive Technology
      • Wind Power Technician
      • Marine Technician Specialist
      • Diesel Technology
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Liberty University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • DME: Doctor of Music Education
      • LLM: International Legal Studies
      • EDD: Curriculum and Instruction
      • EDD: Curriculum and Instruction/Elementary Education
      • EDD: Curriculum and Instruction/Middle Grades Education
      • EDD: Curriculum and Instruction/Secondary Education
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
    Certificate
      • CTG: Communication
      • CTG: Criminal Justice
      • CTG: Curriculum and Instruction
      • CTG: Higher Education Administration
      • CTG: Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
      • CTG: Psychology
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    High School Diploma
      • HS Diploma
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Saint Leo University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Criminal Justice: Education
      • DBA: Business Administration
      • Education Specialist in Educational Leadership
      • Doctor of Criminal Justice: Homeland Security
    Master's
      • MS: Criminal Justice
      • MS: Criminal Justice - Critical Incident Management
      • MA: Creative Writing - Poetry
      • MAcc: Accounting
      • MBA: Project Management
    Bachelor's
      • BA: Criminal Justice
      • BA: Criminal Justice - Criminalistics
      • BA: Psychology
      • BA: Psychology - General
      • BS: Computer Science
      • BA: Psychology - Experimental
    Associate's
      • AA: Criminal Justice
      • AA: Business Administration
      • AA: Information Technology
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Masters in Psychology
      • Masters in Dispute Resolution
      • Masters in Legal Studies
      • Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis
      • Masters in Clinical Psychology (Licensed Professional Counselor)
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Penn Foster

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Career Diploma - Dental Assistant
      • Career Diploma - Motorcycle Repair Technician
      • Career Diploma - Payroll Clerk
      • Career Diploma - Diesel Mechanics/Heavy Truck Maintenance
      • Career Diploma - Home Remodeling and Repair
      • Career Diploma - Medical Billing and Coding
  • Campus and Online Programs
    10. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science - Film Production
      • MS - Entertainment Business (Campus)
      • Game Design Masters - Campus
      • Entertainment Business Masters - Campus
      • Computer Science Masters - Online
      • M.S. - Entertainment Business
    Bachelor's
      • Sportscasting Bachelors - Campus
      • Bachelor of Science - Software Development
      • Communications Bachelors with Creative Writing Concentration - Campus
      • Film Production Masters - Campus
      • Communications Bachelors with Media Communications Concentration - Campus
      • Visual Arts Bachelors with Game Art Concentration - Campus
    Certificate
      • Computer Science Bachelors with AI Concentration - Online
      • User Experience Bachelors - Online

Featured Schools

Purdue Global

  • Master of Science - DNP Executive Leader
  • M.S. in Health Education
  • BS in Communication
  • AASBA in Business
  • Professional Focus + Google Project Management Certificate

Which subject are you interested in?

Grand Canyon University

  • Ed.D in Teaching and Learning with an Emphasis in Adult Learning - Qualitative Research
  • M.S. Psychology with an Emphasis in Gerontology
  • BS in Psychology

What is your highest level of education?

Bryant & Stratton College

  • BA - General Management
  • Criminal Justice Studies - AAS
  • Business Assistant Diploma

What is your high school graduation status?

Universal Technical Institute

  • Aviation Maintenance AAS
  • Collision Repair and Refinish Technology
  • Motorcycle Technician Specialist

What is your highest level of education completed?

Liberty University

  • DME: Doctor of Music Education
  • Bachelor of Science in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
  • CTG: Communication

What is your highest level of education?

Penn Foster High School

  • HS Diploma

What is your highest level of education?

Saint Leo University

  • Doctor of Criminal Justice: Education
  • MS: Criminal Justice
  • BA: Criminal Justice
  • AA: Criminal Justice

What is your highest level of education completed?

Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology

  • Masters in Psychology
  • Masters in Dispute Resolution
  • Masters in Legal Studies

What is your highest level of education completed?