Probation Officer or Correctional Treatment Specialist

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Job Outlook:
As fast as average
Education: Bachelor's degree
High: $101,080.00
Average: $64,920.00
Average: $31.21

What they do:

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.

On the job, you would:

  • Prepare and maintain case folder for each assigned inmate or offender.
  • Gather information about offenders' backgrounds by talking to offenders, their families and friends, and other people who have relevant information.
  • Interview probationers and parolees regularly to evaluate their progress in accomplishing goals and maintaining the terms specified in their probation contracts and rehabilitation plans.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists must be able to effectively convey information to different types of people, including clients and their families, lawyers, judges, and treatment providers.

Critical-thinking skills. Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists must be able to assess clients’ needs to determine the best resources for helping them.

Decision-making skills. Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists must consider the best rehabilitation plan for clients.

Interpersonal skills. Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists must be able to develop relationships with different types of people, including those who may be hostile or challenging.

Organizational skills. Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists must be able to manage multiple cases at the same time.


A3 Your Strengths Importance

Characteristics of this Career

91% Integrity  -  Job requires being honest and ethical.
90% Self-Control  -  Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
89% Dependability  -  Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
88% Stress Tolerance  -  Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
85% Attention to Detail  -  Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
81% Concern for Others  -  Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
80% Adaptability/Flexibility  -  Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
76% Cooperation  -  Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
75% Persistence  -  Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
75% Independence  -  Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
74% Initiative  -  Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
72% Leadership  -  Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
71% Achievement/Effort  -  Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
67% Social Orientation  -  Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
67% Analytical Thinking  -  Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
A3 Your Strengths Importance


95% Social  -  Work involves helping, teaching, advising, assisting, or providing service to others. Social occupations are often associated with social, health care, personal service, teaching/education, or religious activities.
67% Enterprising  -  Work involves managing, negotiating, marketing, or selling, typically in a business setting, or leading or advising people in political and legal situations. Enterprising occupations are often associated with business initiatives, sales, marketing/advertising, finance, management/administration, professional advising, public speaking, politics, or law.
61% Conventional  -  Work involves following procedures and regulations to organize information or data, typically in a business setting. Conventional occupations are often associated with office work, accounting, mathematics/statistics, information technology, finance, or human resources.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Values of the Work Environment

83% Support  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
72% Relationships  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
61% Working Conditions  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.


A3 Your Strengths Importance

Abilities | Cognitive, Physical, Personality

78% Oral Expression  -  The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
75% Problem Sensitivity  -  The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
75% Written Comprehension  -  The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
75% Deductive Reasoning  -  The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
72% Oral Comprehension  -  The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
72% Inductive Reasoning  -  The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
69% Speech Clarity  -  The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
69% Speech Recognition  -  The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
69% Written Expression  -  The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

Job Details

Maintain client information or service records.
Write reports or evaluations.
Explain regulations, policies, or procedures.
Counsel clients or patients with substance abuse issues.
Collect information about clients.
Plan programs to address community mental wellness needs.
Develop working relationships with others to facilitate program activities.
Arrange physical or mental health services for clients.
Help clients get needed services or resources.
Arrange physical or mental health services for clients.
Recommend legal actions.
Interview clients to gather information about their backgrounds, needs, or progress.
Evaluate characteristics of individuals to determine needs or eligibility.
Write reports or evaluations.
Investigate legal issues.
Investigate legal issues.
Recommend legal actions.
Recommend legal actions.
Recommend legal actions.
Refer individuals to educational or work programs.
Provide educational materials to community members.
Administer drug screening tests.
Monitor health or behavior of people or animals.
Visit individuals in their homes to provide support or information.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Attributes & Percentage of Time Spent

99% Contact With Others  -  How much does this job require the worker to be in contact with others (face-to-face, by telephone, or otherwise) in order to perform it?
96% Telephone  -  How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?
94% Electronic Mail  -  How often do you use electronic mail in this job?
93% Face-to-Face Discussions  -  How often do you have to have face-to-face discussions with individuals or teams in this job?
91% Deal With External Customers  -  How important is it to work with external customers or the public in this job?
87% Frequency of Conflict Situations  -  How often are there conflict situations the employee has to face in this job?
85% Time Pressure  -  How often does this job require the worker to meet strict deadlines?
85% Indoors, Environmentally Controlled  -  How often does this job require working indoors in environmentally controlled conditions?
84% Importance of Being Exact or Accurate  -  How important is being very exact or highly accurate in performing this job?
83% Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People  -  How frequently does the worker have to deal with unpleasant, angry, or discourteous individuals as part of the job requirements?
82% Work With Work Group or Team  -  How important is it to work with others in a group or team in this job?
80% Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results  -  What results do your decisions usually have on other people or the image or reputation or financial resources of your employer?
79% Freedom to Make Decisions  -  How much decision making freedom, without supervision, does the job offer?
75% Frequency of Decision Making  -  How frequently is the worker required to make decisions that affect other people, the financial resources, and/or the image and reputation of the organization?
75% Importance of Repeating Same Tasks  -  How important is repeating the same physical activities (e.g., key entry) or mental activities (e.g., checking entries in a ledger) over and over, without stopping, to performing this job?
75% Structured versus Unstructured Work  -  To what extent is this job structured for the worker, rather than allowing the worker to determine tasks, priorities, and goals?
73% Deal With Physically Aggressive People  -  How frequently does this job require the worker to deal with physical aggression of violent individuals?
73% Letters and Memos  -  How often does the job require written letters and memos?
73% In an Enclosed Vehicle or Equipment  -  How often does this job require working in a closed vehicle or equipment (e.g., car)?
72% Responsible for Others' Health and Safety  -  How much responsibility is there for the health and safety of others in this job?
69% Spend Time Sitting  -  How much does this job require sitting?
66% Physical Proximity  -  To what extent does this job require the worker to perform job tasks in close physical proximity to other people?
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Tasks & Values

94% Getting Information  -  Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
86% Documenting/Recording Information  -  Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
86% Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates  -  Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
84% Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards  -  Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
83% Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work  -  Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
83% Making Decisions and Solving Problems  -  Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
81% Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events  -  Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
80% Working with Computers  -  Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
77% Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships  -  Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
74% Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge  -  Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
74% Communicating with People Outside the Organization  -  Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
73% Scheduling Work and Activities  -  Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
73% Judging the Qualities of Objects, Services, or People  -  Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
71% Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings  -  Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
70% Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others  -  Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.
70% Processing Information  -  Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
66% Assisting and Caring for Others  -  Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
66% Performing for or Working Directly with the Public  -  Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.

What Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists Do

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists
Correctional treatment specialists counsel law offenders and create rehabilitation plans for them to follow when they are no longer in prison.

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists assist in rehabilitating law offenders in custody or on probation or parole.


Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists typically do the following:

  • Interview probationers and parolees, their friends, and their relatives in an office or at a residence to assess progress
  • Evaluate probationers and parolees to determine the best course of rehabilitation
  • Connect probationers and parolees with resources, such as job training
  • Test clients for drugs and, if necessary, offer substance abuse counseling
  • Complete prehearing investigations and testify in court or before parole boards regarding clients’ backgrounds and progress
  • Write reports and maintain case files on clients

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists supervise and counsel probationers or parolees, overseeing their clients’ actions in a variety of ways. For example, they may use electronic monitoring to track a client’s movement in the community.

The number of cases a probation officer or correctional treatment specialist handles at one time depends on each individual’s needs and associated risks. Higher risk clients usually command more of an officer’s time and resources. Caseload also varies by agency.

The following are examples of types of probation officers and correctional treatment specialists:

Probation officers supervise people who have been placed on probation instead of sent to prison. These workers ensure that probationers are not a danger to the community and help in their rehabilitation by visiting frequently. Probation officers write reports that detail each probationer’s treatment plan and progress since being put on probation. Most work exclusively with either adults or juveniles.

Parole officers work with people who have been released from prison and are serving parole, helping them re-enter society. Parole officers monitor postrelease parolees and provide them with information on various resources, such as substance abuse counseling or job training, to aid in their rehabilitation. By doing so, the officers try to change the parolee’s behavior and thus reduce the risk of that person committing another crime and having to return to prison.

Both probation and parole officers supervise probationers and parolees through personal contact with them and their families (also known as community supervision). These officers require parolees and probationers to keep in contact regularly by scheduling either telephone calls or office visits. They also check on them at their homes or places of work, taking into account the safety of the neighborhood. Probation and parole officers note mental health considerations and oversee drug testing and electronic monitoring of those under supervision. In some states, workers perform the duties of both probation and parole officers.

Pretrial services officers investigate a defendant’s background to determine whether they can be safely allowed back into the community before their trial date. Officers must assess the risk and make a recommendation to a judge, who decides on the appropriate sentencing (in settled cases with no trial) or bond amount. When pretrial defendants are allowed back into the community, pretrial officers supervise them to make sure that they stay within the terms of their release and appear at their trials.

Correctional treatment specialists, also known as case managers or correctional counselors, advise probationers and parolees and develop rehabilitation plans for them to follow. They may evaluate inmates using questionnaires and psychological tests. They also work with inmates, parole officers, and staff of other agencies to develop parole and release plans. For example, they may plan education and training programs to improve probationers’ job skills.

Correctional treatment specialists write case reports that cover the inmate’s history and the likelihood that he or she will commit another crime. When inmates are eligible for release, the case reports are given to the appropriate parole board. The specialist may help set up counseling for the parolees and their families, find substance abuse or mental health treatment options, aid in job placement, and find housing. Correctional treatment specialists also explain the terms and conditions of the inmate’s release and keep detailed written accounts of each parolee’s progress.

Work Environment

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists held about 93,900 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of probation officers and correctional treatment specialists were as follows:

State government, excluding education and hospitals 51%
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 46
Social assistance 1

Most probation officers and correctional treatment specialists work full time. Their jobs may involve frequent travel, either to perform home and employment checks or property searches or to attend court hearings.

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists may have court-imposed deadlines, adding pressure to complete time-sensitive tasks. Dealing with probationers and parolees who violate the terms of their supervision can be frustrating. Working in high-crime areas or in institutions may be stressful. Because of the hostile environments they may encounter, some officers and specialists carry a firearm or pepper spray for protection.

Despite the job’s challenges, however, the work also may be rewarding. Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists may receive personal satisfaction from counseling members of their community and helping them become productive citizens.

Work Schedules

Most probation officers and correctional treatment specialists work full time. Some workers may be on call and must respond to any issues with probationers, parolees, or law enforcement 24 hours a day.

Meeting with clients often requires travel and working during nonstandard hours.

Getting Started

Bachelor's Degree
Associate's Degree (or other 2-year degree)

How to Become a Probation Officer or Correctional Treatment Specialist

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists
Probation officers may go on to specialize in a certain type of casework, such as working with juvenile law offenders.

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists typically need a bachelor’s degree. In addition, candidates may be required to pass competency exams, drug testing, and a criminal background check.

A valid driver’s license may be required, and some agencies require applicants to be at least 21 years old.


Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists typically need a bachelor's degree. Common fields of degree include criminal justice or a related security and protective service field, social science, or psychology. Requirements vary by jurisdiction.


Most probation officers and correctional treatment specialists must complete a training program sponsored by their state or local government or the federal government, after which they may have to pass a certification test. In addition, they may be required to work as trainees for up to 1 year before being offered a permanent position.

Some probation officers and correctional treatment specialists focus on a certain type of casework. For example, an officer may deal only with domestic violence probationers or with substance abuse cases; others work only on cases involving juvenile offenders. Officers and specialists receive training to prepare them to work with the type of client their casework involves.

Other Experience

Although job requirements vary, volunteer or paid work experience in the criminal justice field may be helpful for some positions.


Advancement to supervisory positions is based primarily on experience and performance. A master’s degree in criminal justice, social work, or psychology may be helpful for advancing.

Job Outlook

Employment of probation officers and correctional treatment specialists is projected to grow 3 percent from 2022 to 2032, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 7,400 openings for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.


Employment growth depends primarily on the amount of state and local government funding for corrections, especially the amount allocated to probation and parole systems.

Demand for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists should be strong as governments continue to recognize the advantages of community corrections over incarceration in certain situations. Parole officers will continue to be needed to supervise individuals who will be released from prison in the future.

Contacts for More Information

For more information about probation officers and correctional treatment specialists, visit

American Probation and Parole Association

For more information about criminal justice job opportunities in your area, contact the departments of corrections, criminal justice, or probation for individual state or local government.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of probation officers and correctional treatment specialists.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2022
Correctional officers Correctional Officers and Bailiffs

Correctional officers guard people in penal institutions and guard those in transit between jail, courtroom, prison, or other point. Bailiffs are law enforcement officers who maintain order in courtrooms.

High school diploma or equivalent $49,610
Police and detectives Police and Detectives

Police officers protect lives and property. Detectives and criminal investigators gather facts and collect evidence of possible crimes.

See How to Become One $69,160
Social and human service assistants Social and Human Service Assistants

Social and human service assistants provide client services in a variety of fields, such as psychology, rehabilitation, and social work.

High school diploma or equivalent $38,520
Social workers Social Workers

Social workers help people prevent and cope with problems in their everyday lives.

See How to Become One $55,350
Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors

Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors advise people on a range of issues, such as those relating to alcoholism, addictions, or depression.

Bachelor's degree $49,710

Information provided by CareerFitter, LLC and other sources.

Sections of this page includes information from the O*NET 27.3 Database by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.

CareerFitter, LLC has modified all or some of this information. USDOL/ETA has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.