How to Advance (Advancement)
A typical agency has probation and parole officers and correctional treatment specialists with varying amounts of experience, as well as supervisors. Advancement is primarily based on experience and performance. A graduate degree, such as a master's degree in criminal justice, social work, or psychology, may be helpful or required for advancement.
Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists held about 103,400 jobs in 2008. Most jobs are in State or local governments. Depending on the State, probation officers and correctional treatment specialists may be employed solely by State or local government, or they are employed at both levels. Jobs are more plentiful in urban areas than in rural ones. In the Federal Government, probation officers are employed by the U.S. courts, and correctional treatment specialists are employed by the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Prisons.
Employment of probation officers and correctional treatment specialists is projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2018. Job opportunities are expected to be excellent.
Employment of probation officers and correctional treatment specialists is projected to grow about 19 percent between 2008 and 2018, faster than the average for all occupations. Mandatory sentencing guidelines calling for longer sentences and reduced parole for inmates have resulted in a large increase in the prison population. However, mandatory sentencing guidelines are being reconsidered in many States because of budgetary constraints, court decisions, and doubts about the guidelines' effectiveness. Instead, there may be more emphasis in many States on rehabilitation and alternate forms of punishment, such as probation, that will spur demand for probation and parole officers and correctional treatment specialists. Additionally, there will be a need for parole officers to supervise the large number of currently incarcerated people when they are released from prison.
However, employment growth depends primarily on the amount of government funding that is allocated to corrections, and especially to probation and parole systems. Although community supervision is far less expensive than keeping offenders in prison, a change in political trends toward more imprisonment and away from community supervision could result in reduced employment opportunities.
In addition to openings due to growth, many openings will be created by replacement needs, especially openings due to the large number of these workers who are expected to retire. This occupation is not attractive to some potential entrants due to relatively low earnings, heavy workloads, and high stress. For these reasons, job opportunities are expected to be excellent.
Median annual wages of probation officers and correctional treatment specialists in May 2008 were $45,910. The middle 50 percent earned between $35,990 and $60,430. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $29,490, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $78,210. In May 2008, median annual wages for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists employed in State government were $46,580; those employed in local government earned $46,420. Higher wages tend to be found in urban areas.
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