How to Be a Parole Officer

A parole officer is a law enforcement agent who oversees the activity of people who have been released from prison after serving part of a sentence, making sure that the individual abides by the parole conditions set by the court. Among other duties, parole officers may conduct drug tests, testify in court, meet with parolees' family members, and find housing/employment opportunities for the parolee. Read this article to learn how to become a parole officer.


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    Graduate from high school. Alternatively, you can pass the GED (General Education Development) exam. You will need to do one of these two things and be at least 21 years old in order to become a parole officer.[1]
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    Get a bachelor's or associate's degree. Most states require that parole officers have either one of these degrees, preferably in criminal justice, sociology, psychology, or other related field.[2][3] Working as a parole officer at the federal level may also require a graduate degree.[4]
    • Some institutions have programs designed specifically to help students meet state requirements for parole officers.[5] Research schools in your area to determine whether this option is available for you.
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    Pass the necessary exams and background checks. The parole officer examination is a combination of multiple-choice and essay questions designed to illustrate a candidate's knowledge of the legal justice system.[6] Sections include case work scenarios, parole officer definitions and concepts, situational reasoning, and english grammar and punctuation.
    • Parole officers must also undergo background checks to determine their psychological well-being and criminal record.[7]Personal and professional references may also be required as part of the background check process.[8] Most agencies also require candidates to complete physical examinations.[9]
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    Complete a parole officer training program. Most recently hired parole officers must complete training programs, which typically last 4-6 weeks, before beginning work. Trainees may attend workshops, seminars, and fitness training programs, and learn important practical skills like how to use firearms.[10] Most training programs are paid.
    • Some states require that parole officers continue to take refresher training programs throughout their careers.[11]
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    Meet additional state requirements. Parole officers must be residents of the states in which they practice, and meet specific state requirements.[12] Some states require that parole officers have at least three years of experience working in the field as a social worker or other recognized position within the criminal justice system or a human welfare agency.[13]


  • In addition to their education and training, parole officers must also have strong communication and writing skills, work well under pressure, and have authoritative personalities, as the job entails working closely with criminals.

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Categories: Legal Careers