Last year, there were some 2.2 million inmates in state and federal prisons, most of whom will be released at some point, almost certainly into the supervision of a parole officer. Parole officers work with inmates preparing for supervised release. They not only monitor the parolee's actions and activities, but they also work with family members and other community resources to help rehabilitate their charges and identify job training, drug treatment programs and other support services to assist the parolees.
Some parole officers work with the correctional officer supervisors in prison systems to evaluate inmates and prepare reports for the parole board. Others work in field offices within the community and directly supervise a parolee's activities on release.
Some typical daily tasks of a parole officer might include:
Interview inmates and develop a plan for supervised release
Assist parolees with finding a place to live, securing a job and getting mental health or substance abuse treatment if indicated
Order and/or administer drug and alcohol tests
Educate and counsel family members and loved ones about conditions of parole and how to support the parolee
Write and maintain regular reports on a parolee's progress
Make surprise home and/or workplace visits to check on the activities of the parolee
Many parole officers find the job one of the more rewarding criminal justice jobs, especially when they are able to aid in the successful transition from incarceration to being a member of society.
Parole Officer Job Education Requirements
Most parole officers are required to have a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, sociology, psychology, social work, criminology or correctional science. The U.S. Board of Parole, as well as most state and district level agencies, require two years of correctional officer experience. In some cases, a master's degree in psychology or sociology will substitute for the two-year work requirement. Applicants are expected to pass detailed written, oral, physical and psychological tests prior to being hired. Most states also require an official training program and a certification exam.
Parole Officer Job Market
The job outlook for parole officers is steady, but not undergoing a period of growth. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts there will be little or no change in demand for parole officers. Jobs should still be easy to find, however, since there is a lot of turnover in this particular occupation.
Parole Officer Job Salary Information
The median salary in 2012 was $48,190 per year. Parole officers, like most public sector jobs, also enjoy very generous benefits packages.