Parole Officer Job Description, Skills, Salary and How to Be One

Parole, officers help rehabilitate people who are released from prison. They create plans and monitor former criminals as they rebuild their lives and transition back into society. Do you despise a desk job, but like working with people?

More specifically, do you want to help people who may not have the skills or the mindset that they can be more than a criminal? A job as a parole officer may be a good fit.

    What Does a Parole Officer Do?

    Parole Officer Duties

    • Talk to probationers or parolees, their family and friends to see how they are progressing on their post-prison plan.
    • Assess and decide the best plan for rehabilitating them.
    • Give parolees access to job training and other resources.
    • Conduct drug testing and counsel parolees about substance abuse.
    • Testify in court about the parolee’s activities and progress.
    • Write and keep records of offenders.

    Parole Officer Job: The Good

    • Being a parole officer is a never-the-same-day-twice kind of job.
    • Appeals to someone who loves a challenge.
    • You talk to a lot of different people and have to anticipate situations.
    • You will work with people who want to rehabilitate their lives.
    • You get to travel and work a flexible schedule.
    • Half of all parole officers in the U.S. made more than $53,000 a year as of 2018.

    Parole Officer Job: The Bad

    • You will also work with people who are criminals for life.
    • There is a lot of paperwork.
    • If you are easily offended or manipulated this is not the job for you.
    • Clients will cuss at you, lie and blame you for their troubles. So will their friends and family.
    • The job can potentially be dangerous and may require you to carry a gun.

    See Parole Officer Jobs Posted Today on Monster

    American Probation and Parole Association Career Center Jobs

    The Difference Between a Probation Officer and a Parole Officer

    Parole officers rehabilitate people who have been in prison.

    A parole officer and a probation officer have different roles. Yes, both jobs deal with convicted criminals, but parole officers oversee people who have been convicted and served time in prison.

    Probation officers, on the other hand, help convicted criminals who are on probation—they have not served time in prison, but could if they re-offend.

    Key Differences

    Who they supervisePeople who have
    been convicted and aleady
    served time in prison.
    People who have been
    convicted of a crime, but who
    have not been in jail/prison.
    Behavior of clientsParolees can be swayed by their
    criminal connections
    and prison experience.
    People are usually motivated to
    avoid going to prison by
    doing what is asked of them.
    Who they work for A parole officer exercises
    his or her authority with the
    oversight of a state or
    federal parole board.
    Probation officers work for the
    court system. They perform
    their duties as authorized
    by the sentencing court.
    Caseload Probation officers have fewer
    cases but meet with them often.
    A probation officer has more cases
    and decides how often to meet
    with them based on the chances the
    person will violate the probation terms.


    It’s easy to get the two professions mixed up and use the terms interchangeably. They do share some similarities such as:

    • They both help convicted criminals become law-abiding citizens.
    • They use supervision, counseling, social work, and case management to help people.
    • Both jobs plan and coordinate services to meet each offender’s needs such as arranging job training for them.
    • They both make sure the person on parole or probation is not a danger to the people around them.
    • Both officers write reports about the treatment and progress of the people they are helping.

    Parole Officer/Probation Officer Resume Sample

    Parole officers resume sample

    See the full-size resume here

    Work Environment

    Parole officers, probation officers, and correctional treatment specialists held about 91,600 jobs in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    Much of the job is out in the field, checking on parolees where they live and work. It also means tracking down people they know.

    Is a Parole Officer Job Dangerous?

    Parole officers have to work with criminals who may not want help.

    The short answer is: It can be. When talking to friends and family members of the parolee, things may get tense. Conducting searches and verifying employment would create hostile situations.

    Depending on the level of past criminal behavior, their mental and emotional stability and the person’s propensity to re-offend, a parole officer job can be fairly risky. Officers may carry a firearm or pepper spray to protect themselves.

    But as potentially dangerous as the job could be, it is a rewarding endeavor. You have a crucial role in rehabilitating criminals to become contributing members of a community. You have the power to rebuild lives.

    Work Schedules

    Parole officers work full time, but the demands of the job can mean irregular hours or overtime. Most agencies have an on-call officer rotation. The job can also require extensive travel.

    How to Become a Parole Officer

    Parole officers need a bachelor’s degree in social work, criminal justice behavioral sciences or related field. You can find jobs at law enforcement agencies such as a state department of criminal justice or a federal agency.

    You must:

    • Pass skills tests
    • Pass criminal background check and or investigation
    • Pass drug tests.
    • Have a valid driver’s license
    • Be 21 years old or older

    It’s a good idea to do an internship to experience what the job is really like.

    Parole Officer Salaries

    • Median annual salary 2018: $53,020
    • Lowest earners got less than $34,630
    • Highest earners got $94,770 annually.

    The employment of parole officers is projected to grow 3% by 2028.

    Professional Associations

    Tracey Lamphere

    Tracey Lamphere, M.S. IMC is the editor of Job Affirmations, a publication that provides information and ideas to use mindfulness, positive affirmations, and visualizations to transform your career.

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