Federal Probation Officer Career, Job Description & Salary Info

Federal Probation Officer jobs, working within the Federal Probation Service, involve working with U.S. District Courts by supervising offenders who had been convicted of committing federal crimes. These offenders have either been recently placed on probation without serving a lengthy jail sentence or newly released from a federal prison.

The primary responsibility of a Federal Probation Officer is to ensure that offenders do not violate the terms of their probation by engaging in further criminal activity. However, the role also has a positive and rewarding aspect as it also involves assisting offenders to build more productive lives and become contributing members of society.

Specific duties of a Federal Probation Officer:

  • Work in collaboration with many community-based agencies to help client’s access housing, entitlements, employment, or counseling.
  • Ensure that they attend all required counseling and rehabilitation appointments.
  • Monitor the whereabouts of clients and perform home and work visits, as required. Some offenders are required to wear “electronic bracelets” which record their location. This is important as many persons on probation must meet established curfews.
  • Review all records of the offenders, such as court records, school records, bank records, employment records, and military records, if appropriate.
  • Meet regularly with offenders, their families, employers or counselors to chart progress and compliance.
  • Federal probation officers often provide court testimony regarding all aspects of their work with clients and the offender’s success with rehabilitation.

So, how to become a Federal Probation Officer? Keep reading…

Federal Probation Officer Job Requirements

The requirements for how to become a federal probation officer are as follows:

  • Must be in excellent physical health as the work can be physically strenuous and sometimes dangerous.
  • No history of psychological or emotional disorders. Must be able to effectively interact with a wide range of personalities — violent, irate, aggressive, and antagonistic.
  • Pass written, verbal, physical and psychological examinations.
  • No felony convictions.
  • Ability to obtain a firearms license.
  • No older than 37 years of age at time of application.
  • Possess a valid driver’s license.
  • Proficiency in the use of computers as most documentation is now completed with a software program.
  • Knowledgeable with regard to federal law enforcement and corrections.

Federal Probation Officer Education and Training

A minimum of a bachelor’s degree is required to become a Federal Probation Officer. You must also have graduated from a school accredited by the U.S. Department of Education. Areas of study may include counseling, psychology, social work or criminal justice. However, those with a master’s degree in any of the above areas are favored for advanced supervisory positions.

Most newly-employed Federal Probation Officers are required to participate in a training program offered by the U.S. Department of Corrections and pass a certification exam upon graduation. Much of the content of the certification exams will be based on the Probation Officer’s job duties. Entry-level Federal Probation Officers will be considered “trainees” for the first full year of employment and only offered permanent employment upon satisfactory completion of this probationary period.

The Federal Probation and Pre-Trial Services Training Academy, located at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Charleston, South Carolina provides a six week orientation program for newly employed Federal Probation Officers, as well as training in the proper and safe use of firearms.

Federal Probation Officer Salary

As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the median salary of Federal Probation Officer as of 2010 (the latest date for which figures are available) is $50,500 with the highest 10 percent earning in excess of $78,860. Salary will vary depending on pay grade, experience, education, and location. With regard to the last, urban areas tend to offer a higher salary than more suburban and rural locations.

Federal Probation Officer Career Opportunities

As per the BLS, the anticipated growth rate for Federal Probation Officer jobs is 19 percent through the year 2018. This represents a much higher rate than is the case for most other occupations. Much of the growth stems from the efforts of the courts to engage in alternative sentencing programs for first time offenders as a cost control measure.

After obtaining a bachelor’s degree, receiving all necessary certification, and working as a Federal Probation Officer for six months, you will be eligible to advance in the position of “Deputy Probation Officer I” depending on your work performance. Further advancement into the role of “Deputy Probation Officer II” requires a minimum of one year experience while promotion to “Deputy Probation Officer III” requires 3 years of satisfactory job performance and, preferably and advanced degree. It is possible to advance all the way up to Regional Director and supervise the work of hundreds of Federal Probation Officers within the District Court’s jurisdiction.

Take a look at other great Criminal Justice Careers.

Article written by Radek Gadek

Radek holds a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Boston University. He is currently doing consulting work and runs this blog to provide relevant information on criminal justice degrees, colleges and related careers.

2 comments… add one
  • Christine

    I’m attending Rutgers University, majoring in criminal justice at the moment. Would it be better suited for this career if I were to major in psychology rather than CJ? Which one would be preferred? Thanks!

    • Meaghan

      Major in CRJ minor in psychology. that is what i am going to do…

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