CAREER GUIDE FOR PROBATION OFFICER
SOC Code: 21-1092
Pay Band(s): 4 and 5 (Salary Structure)
Standard Occupational Description: Provide social services to assist in rehabilitation of law offenders in custody or on probation or parole. Make recommendations for actions involving formulation of rehabilitation plan and treatment of offender, including conditional release and education and employment stipulations.
Probation Officer positions in the Commonwealth are assigned to the following Roles in the Probation and Parole Career Group:
Although Probation Officer positions in the Commonwealth primarily are located in the Probation and Parole Career Group, individuals may want to pursue other related opportunities depending upon individual education, training and experience.
Probation Officers also have career opportunities in the following Career Group(s):
SKILLS, KNOWLEDGE, ABILITIES AND TASKS
(Technical and Functional Expertise)
Note: The technical and functional skills listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Probation Officers commonly recognized by most employers. Typically, you will not be required to have all of the skills listed to be a successful performer. Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.
1. Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
2. Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
3. Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
4. Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
5. Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
6. Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
7. Talking to others to convey information effectively.
8. Managing one's own time and the time of others.
9. Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
10. Teaching others how to do something.
Note: The technical and functional knowledge statements listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Probation Officers commonly recognized by most employers. Typically, you will not be required to have all of the knowledge listed to be a successful performer. Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.
The Knowledge of:
1. Human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
2. Laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
3. Relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
4. Principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
5. Group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
6. Structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
7. Principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
8. Principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Note: The technical and functional abilities listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Probation Officers commonly recognized by most employers. Typically, you will not be required to have all of the abilities listed to be a successful performer. Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.
The Ability to:
1. Communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
2. Tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
3. Listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
4. Apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
5. Speak clearly so others can understand you.
6. Combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
7. Identify and understand the speech of another person.
8. Communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
9. See details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
10. Read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Note: The following is a list of sample tasks typically performed by Probation Officers. Employees in this occupation will not necessarily perform all of the tasks listed.
1. Prepare and maintain case folder for each assigned inmate or offender.
2. Write reports describing offenders' progress.
3. Inform offenders or inmates of requirements of conditional release, such as office visits, restitution payments, or educational and employment stipulations.
4. Discuss with offenders how such issues as drug and alcohol abuse, and anger management problems might have played roles in their criminal behavior.
5. Gather information about offenders' backgrounds by talking to offenders, their families and friends, and other people who have relevant information.
6. Develop rehabilitation programs for assigned offenders or inmates, establishing rules of conduct, goals, and objectives.
7. Develop liaisons and networks with other parole officers, community agencies, staff in correctional institutions, psychiatric facilities and after-care agencies in order to make plans for helping offenders with life adjustments.
8. Arrange for medical, mental health, or substance abuse treatment services according to individual needs and/or court orders.
9. Provide offenders or inmates with assistance in matters concerning detainers, sentences in other jurisdictions, writs, and applications for social assistance.
10. Arrange for post-release services such as employment, housing, counseling, education, and social activities.
Like people, occupations have traits or characteristics. These characteristics give important clues about the nature of the work and work environment, and give you an opportunity to match your own personal interests to a specific occupation. When you choose a job in an occupation that matches your own interests you have taken an important step in planning a successful and rewarding career.
The Probation Officer occupation has the following characteristics:
Social Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.
Conventional Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
LICENSURE, REGISTRATION, OR CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS
Generally this is not required for Probation Officer positions in state government.
EDUCATIONAL, TRAINING, AND LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
The Department of Labor provides the following information:
Probation officers, who are called community supervision officers in some States, supervise people who have been placed on probation. Parole officers supervise offenders who have been released from prison on parole to ensure that they comply with the conditions of their parole. In some States, the job of parole and probation officer is combined.
Probation officers also spend much of their time working for the courts. They investigate the background of offenders brought before the court, write presentence reports, and make sentencing recommendations for each offender. Officers review sentencing recommendations with offenders and their families before submitting them to the court. Officers may be required to testify in court as to their findings and recommendations. They also attend court hearings to update the court on the offender's compliance with the terms of his or her sentence and on the offender's efforts at rehabilitation.
Background qualifications for probation officers vary by State, but a bachelor's degree in social work, criminal justice, or a related field from a 4-year college or university is usually required. Some employers require previous experience or a master's degree in criminal justice, social work, psychology, or a related field.
Applicants usually are administered written, oral, psychological, and physical examinations. Most probation officers and some correctional treatment specialists are required to complete a training program sponsored by their State government or the Federal Government, after which a certification test may be required.
Prospective probation officers should be in good physical and emotional condition. Most agencies require applicants to be at least 21 years old and, for Federal employment, not older than 37. Those convicted of felonies may not be eligible for employment in this occupation.
A graduate degree, such as a master's degree in criminal justice, social work, or psychology, may be helpful for advancement.
Sources of training, and learning opportunities include:
3. National Board for Certified Counselors and Affiliates (NBCC) http://www.nbcc.org
Competencies are a set of identified behaviors, knowledge, skills, and abilities that directly and positively impact the success of employees and the organization. Competencies can be observed and measured. When consistently demonstrated, competencies make employees particularly effective in their work. Competencies help lay out a road map to career success. You can use the Commonwealth Competencies to help improve your individual performance by adopting behaviors that make high performing employees successful in their jobs. In this way, you can use the Commonwealth Competencies for your further professional development.
The Commonwealth Competencies are:
1. Technical and Functional Expertise
2. Understanding the Business
3. Achieving Results
4. Serving the Customer
6. Interpersonal and Communication Skills
7. Leadership and Personal Effectiveness
The above competencies may be applied to employees throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. They can be rank-ordered by agencies and hiring managers to represent the needs of a specific job. The rank ordering will change depending upon the occupation, an organization's priorities, the actual job requirements, and the supervisor's preferences.
Career success is both about what you do (applying your technical knowledge, skills, and ability) and how you do it (the consistent behaviors you demonstrate and choose to use) while interacting and communicating with others. Hopefully, by studying the Commonwealth competencies, identifying your developmental opportunities, and working to refine your own competence, you can take charge of your career!
For additional information about the Commonwealth Competencies go to: http://jobs.virginia.gov/cd_main.html. For the competencies, we first list the competencies and then define each. Finally, we list competency indicators; to describe what successful performance looks like.
COMMONWEALTH CAREER PATH
Career opportunities in the Commonwealth are not limited to moving up to the next highest role and pay band, changing positions, or to becoming a supervisor. That's because most roles describe a broad group of occupationally related positions that perform a range of work that requires increased knowledge and skills. For that reason, Commonwealth roles describe the career paths within the same or higher-level role for the same or different Career Group. The broad salary range and the Commonwealth's pay practices provide flexibility in recognizing career development and advancement. (Salary Structure)
For example: Probation Officer
Sample Career Path
Probation Officer I
The Probation Officer I role provides career tracks for the probation officers performing duties that range from entry level to advanced level. Duties include community and institutional based offender supervision and case management services to probationers, parolees, detainees and others as officers of the courts.
Probation Officer I
The Probation Officer II role provides career tracks for probation officers who provide direct offender supervision and work as supervisors, usually in a district office or court service unit or serve as an expert providing specialized services in order to make parole recommendations to the Virginia Parole Board.
Probation Manager I
The Probation Manager I role provides career tracks for managers who manages programmatic and administrative functions for assigned localities or a specialized probation or parole unit for delivery of community supervision services. Employees in these role monitor program services, coordinate budget development, and develop, interpret, and apply policies. Responsibilities vary according to the range of services provided and the level of program development maintained.
Probation Manager II
The Probation Manager II role provides career tracks for managers in the largest, most diverse probation or court service offices who direct the programmatic and administrative functions of the assigned units.
ADDITIONAL OCCUPATIONAL INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT:
Virginia Employment Commission
Virginia Career Resource Network
American Probation and Parole Association
American Correctional Association