Parole agents or parole officers are criminal justice professionals who supervise convicted offenders after they are released from prison. They supervise these offenders on parole by personally meeting with offenders and their families – at their homes, jobsites or therapy venues – and talking about any issues or progress achieved. Reports on these meetings plus each parole agent’s investigations into his charge’s situation are provided to the courts.
Parole agents also seek out the help of community organizations to employ and even monitor the offenders. Their job may also entail helping offenders get job training or substance abuse rehabilitation.
A bachelor’s degree in social work, criminal justice, psychology or a related field is usually required. Some employers require a candidate to pass oral, written and psychological evaluations before being accepted.
Because parole agents work with criminal offenders, the job can often be stressful and occasionally dangerous. Court-imposed workloads can be heavy, and the agent might be required to work odd hours. Some might even be required to carry a firearm. Despite drawbacks, many still find the work of helping offenders rewarding.
In a typical day, job duties of probation counselors can include the following:
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), parole agents earn a median annual salary of $46,530 with the top 10% earning up to $78,860. Employment in this field is projected to grow at about 19% from 2008 to 2018, which is faster than the average for all occupations. Growth is seen due to the large number of inmates currently in prisons – many of whom will be considered for parole in the coming years.