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

by Kate Williams

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

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