Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
CAREER DEVELOPMENT / APR. 20, 2014
version 5, draft 5

How to Become a Probation Officer

probation officer
istock

Do you think you can get along with people from various backgrounds and help them in what is, perhaps, the most challenging time of theirs? Can you treat prisoners or people just out of confinement with dignity and respect, but be firm enough not to let them violate the rules? If you answer affirmatively to these questions, you might well be the ideal type of person for the job of a probation officer.

What Do Probation Officers Do?

Probation officers work with people serving community and prison sentences and help them during the rehabilitation process as well. Your duties would include:

  • supervising prisoners
  • ensuring former prisoners are following all rules during the probation
  • reporting whenever there is a violation worth of police attention
  • working with other agencies (such as social services) as deemed necessary under particular circumstances

The second part of the job of a probation officer is to work with victims of crimes and clear their worries with regards to offenders and possible steps they could take after release. As a probation officer, you would need to protect the community and minimise criminality. So, anything you could think of as appropriate for reducing crime and re-offending by people you supervised might well fall within the scope of your duties and responsibilities.

Entry Requirements and Qualifications 

To qualify for this job, you would normally need to start as a probation services officer (PSO) and then take a postgraduate programme in Community and Criminal Justice and a Level 5 Diploma in Probation Practice.

PSO applicants would need to meet entry requirements set by individual probation trusts. Usually, all probation trusts are looking for someone who has a good general standard of education (e.g. five GSCEs or equivalent), the potential to complete the on-job training programme, and some relevant work experience.

Community and youth work, victim support services, prison visiting or adult education are all examples of acceptable prior experience that can be obtained through volunteer or part-time paid positions.

You could look for volunteer opportunities at probation trusts or community service organisations. For the contact details of probation trusts in your area, visit Probation Association - directory of probation trusts.

Volunteer positions are also available through the Youth Offending Team and a number of charity organisations. For current opportunities in your area visit the Do-it website

Another option to start the career of a probation officer is to join an apprenticeship scheme in the Community Justice. These opportunities are limited in number and may not be available in every area of the country. For current openings, visit the Apprenticeships website.

Hours and Income

If you land a full-time position, you would normally be expected to work 37 hours a week. You may need to work some irregular hours, including in the evenings or at weekends. 

The following are the estimated salary levels for probation officers, according to the National Career Service: 

Probation Officer Salaries

 Minimum

 Maximum

PSOs

£21,000

£27,000

POs

£28,000

£35,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a probation officer, you should expect to make between £21,607 and £27,102 a year. If you are a PSO and work part-time, you will make between £15 and £22 an hour.

Employers and Career Growth

Probation officers are most often employed by local probation trusts. Limited opportunities are also available through the local authority Youth Offending Teams. Remember that you have to start as a PSO and only after completing some on-job training you could be considered for the position of a probation officer. With more experience, you would have a chance to progress to supervisory roles or become a probation officer trainer.

For the list of current opportunities and further general reading about the job of a probation officer, visit:

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