Probation officers supervise people that are on probation. Parole officers perform many of the same duties that probation officers perform. The job of probation officers and parole officers are basically the same. The difference is simply that parole officers deal with offenders who have been released from prison, and probation officers deal with people who were sentenced to probation instead of prison.
Probation and parole officers supervise offenders on probation or parole by contacting offenders and their families. Many probation and parole officers meet their clients in their homes and at their places of employment instead of requiring the offenders to come to their office. This keeps the offenders on their toes by adding the element of surprise. Some offenders are required to wear an electronic device such as an ankle bracelet so officers can monitor their whereabouts. Probation and parole officers may help their clients get substance abuse counseling, job training, jobs, or a place to reside. Some officers are juvenile probation officers. Juvenile probation officers usually only handle juvenile offenders.
Probation and parole officers can be assigned many different offenders at a time. How many often depends on the needs of the court, the type of offender, and the officer's abilities. Officers are often assigned more offenders than what might be considered ideal. Probation and parole officers have a tough job.
Probation officers spend a lot of time working for the courts doing background investigations, writing presentence reports, and recommending sentences.
Most probation officer jobs require a four year degree. Criminal justice, psychology, and sociology are some common majors for probation officers. Some employers require applicants to have an advanced degree in criminal justice, social work, psychology, or a related field. As is true for many law enforcement officer jobs, different employers have different requirements. Previous work related experience can certainly help an applicant get hired. If you want to become a probation or parole officer, make yourself the best candidate you can!