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If you are looking for a challenging career in criminal justice and you would like a position where every day is different and each interaction puts your skills to the test, you should check out opportunities in probation services.

These jobs require superb interpersonal skills and the ability to both monitor and motivate offenders as they make the transition from serving their sentence to once again becoming part of society.

There are two primary types of probation positions, probation services officers (PSOs) and probation officers (POs). While each works directly with offenders and community programs the roles, training and qualifications for each job is different.

Probation Services Officers

Probation services officers are involved with the supervision of offenders who are currently serving community or prison sentences. In addition, they assist with rehabilitation efforts after the individual is released from prison. People considering a probation career typically start as a probation services officer.

To qualify for this job you need a level 5 qualification like a degree. Experience in a volunteer position or paid job working with offenders, the criminal justice system or helping vulnerable groups is also very helpful.

Since you will relate to a diverse community of people you need to have excellent communication skills and be able to handle difficult people and difficult situations. Understanding and empathy are keys to excelling in this role.

Your activities are similar to that of a probation officer, but your focus would be on working with low and medium risk offenders. Often you would be part of a team focusing on a specific area of probation services. Like probation officers, you will prepare pre-sentencing reports, work directly with offenders prior to release and supervise re-integration into the community.

Probation Officers

The typical path for advancement within a probation job is to advance from a probation services officer to probation officer. On the job and advanced training is available to help you advance to the level of probation officer. You can remain as a PSO while you are applying for a PO position.

Probation officers work with higher risk offenders and as such handle much more difficult and demanding cases. In this role you will be challenged to develop keen interpersonal and motivation skills.

You will be required to stand up to challenging individuals and situations, and to offer respect and dignity to the people you are supervising. The position requires intelligence, street smarts, empathy and strength.

Before the offender is sentenced the probation officer interviews the individual and recommends an appropriate sentence to the justice or magistrate.

When the individual is about to be released from prison, expect significant interaction with the offender as you put together a plan for integrating the person back into the community. In addition to supervising the offender after their release probation officers commonly interact with work service programs and community organizations.

Probation jobs provide a career path that helps you hone your skills and abilities as you advance from the probation services officer to probation officer level. Your service will help make a significant difference in both the offender’s life and the community at large.


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