Criminal justice and court systems have been vital to every nation and country. A part of the judicial system is providing criminal offenders the chance to go out of the prison to spend the rest of their sentence doing community service or to be with the society. Because of this system, a professional who ensures that parolees follow and complete the terms of their parole according to what the court has set enters the scene. That’s what parole officers do.
How to become a parole officer
If you’re interested to become a parole officer, this article will provide you information on how to become one. Read on to learn more.
Before wetting your feet in becoming a parole officer, first thing to do is assess yourself whether you have the qualities necessary to become an effective parole officer.
- Working as a parole officer will require you to have interactions with criminal offenders and parolees within your jurisdiction.
- You must have the ability to work under pressure, work during irregular and long hours, have excellent communication skills and an authoritative attitude.
- Along with this, you must also be physically, mentally and emotionally stable to endure the stresses, physical demands and emotional impacts that are involved in your work.
Once you have decided you really want to become a parole officer, here are basic steps to start your journey towards your chosen career.
1 Check for the requirements specific for your state
The requirements to become a parole officer would vary from one state to another. Most states will require a degree, an age limit, passing certain examination and a background check in order to be employed as a parole officer.
- Most states will require you to obtain either an associate or a bachelor’s degree. Some will also require you to complete a graduate degree.
- Most states require you to be at least 20 years old.
- Federal jobs may require you to have a valid driver’s license, a license to carry firearms and at least 2 years of hands-on experience or complete specific training programs.
- Most state will require you to pass investigations and several examinations in order to become an eligible parole officer.
2 Look for colleges and universities that offer a degree program for potential parole officers
- Search online for colleges and universities which offer recognized programs by your state. Generally speaking, look for community colleges within your locale which offer a state-specific degree program. This will allow you to make sure the program will be recognized once you apply for a job.
3 Earn a college degree
In order to become an effective parole officer, obtaining proper education is beneficial.
- Complete an associate or a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, or other behavioral courses such as sociology, counseling or psychology.
- Taking a degree in criminal justice will allow you to learn on the executions of the judicial system, accompanied by a sociological and psychological approach in dealing criminals and the crime itself. It will also allow you to have a higher chance of getting the job as a parole officer. Taking a behavioral-science-related degree will enable you to understand the behaviors of criminal offenders.
4 Consider obtaining a graduate degree
Because a lot of people wanted to enter the profession as a parole officer, obtaining higher education will advance you in your chosen career.
- Though not necessary, completing a master’s degree in criminal justice will help you to have greater opportunities once you start looking for a job and are usually required by most states especially if you would want to work for the federal government.
5 Gain relevant work experience
- Some states may also require you to gain relevant experiences in a corrections or counseling experiences that exhibits your ability to provide effective counseling and proper solutions to personal, social and occupational problems.
- Prior experiences in such areas will also be enough to land a job without gaining any further education.
6 Pass a criminal background check
As a parole officer, you will be working within the scope of the judicial system. Because of this, all states require parole officers to undergo background investigations before they can apply for a job.
- You must have no criminal records, felonies or drug-related crimes.
- You must not have committed any law-breaking violations may it be behavioral or traffic violations.
- You must not also be a member of any local or national gangs.
- Professional and personal references are also considered in the investigation. Credit reports may also be included.
- To sum it all, you must maintain a clean criminal record. Having such bad records, however small they are, may affect your eligibility to land a job, especially for the federal government.
7 Pass a series of examinations
In order to become eligible to work as a parole officer, you must pass a series of examination that will test your ability and capability of becoming an effective parole officer.
- A series of oral and written exams are given to test your knowledge in the court system and criminal justice, and assess your communication skill. Part of the examination would be a multiple choice and other part would be essays which also tests your comprehensive skills.
- A drug screening test is also required.
- You must also pass a physical and psychological examination that will determine whether you are fit or not for the job.
- Once you land a job as a parole officer, most states will require you to complete a training program that usually lasts 2 to 6 weeks. Training programs may be conducted before your actual work or within the first several months or initial year working as a parole officer. This training is usually sponsored by the state or federal government.
- At the end of the training, a certificate will be given to prove your participation and will serve as additional credentials.
- Most states will also require you to attend continuing education through occasional re-training programs that will help you advance in your career.
A profession as a parole officer can be demanding but is rewarding and fulfilling at the same time. Helping criminal offenders to change for the better and become good citizens of our country is one of the noblest professions one can have. Learning how to become a parole officer is just the first step. It may take years to gain education and experience for you to be eligible for a job, but once you land a job, the rewards are great.
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