Probation officer

Probation officers supervise people serving community and prison sentences. They also help people get back into society after they've left prison.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £22,000 to £40,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 35 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

You'll need a recognised level 5 qualification like a degree. Experience of working with the criminal justice system and vulnerable groups can also help you get into this career.

You’ll usually start as a probation services officer, before training as a probation officer.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • the ability to deal with a wide range of people
  • report writing skills
  • organisational skills

3. What you'll do

You’ll work with offenders before, during and after their sentence. You may work in the community, prisons or approved premises (previously probation hostels).

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • interviewing offenders before sentencing
  • preparing reports to help magistrates and judges decide the most suitable sentence
  • making sure offenders attend supervision appointments and take part in group programmes
  • running group programmes to change offenders' behaviour
  • assessing risks and writing reports to help prisons and parole review boards decide on early release
  • working with prisoners about to be released

You’ll also work with other agencies like the police, social services, and youth offending teams.

4. Salary

Starter: £22,000 to £27,250

Experienced: £29,000 to £35,000

Highly Experienced: Up to £40,000 (manager)

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll usually work around 37 hours a week, Monday to Friday. You may need to cover nights and weekends, usually with time off for working unsocial hours.

You'll work in an office. You'll also travel to community programmes, group sessions, prisons and court.

6. Career path and progression

With experience you could become a senior probation officer or area manager, managing a team of staff.

With further training you could specialise in working with particular groups, like high-risk or sexual offenders.

Last updated: 04 October 2016