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Parole or Probation Officer

Parole officers and probation officers help offenders integrate into the community and, at the same time, protect the community by supervising offenders. Parole officers are employed by Correctional Services of Canada to manage the conditional release of federal and provincial offenders. Probation officers are employed by Alberta Justice and Solicitor General to conduct investigations and prepare presentence reports, and supervise offenders in the community.

Also Known As:Probation Officer
NOC Number(s):4155.1
Minimum Education:2 years post-secondary education/training
Employment Outlook:Job openings generated due to employment turnover. Occupational outlook currently unavailable.
Interests:S M D

Duties | Working Conditions | Personal Characteristics | Education | Employment | Salary | Other Information | Related Occupations | Related School Subjects | Related Field of Study

Duties

Duties vary from one position to another but, in general, parole officers:

  • make recommendations regarding the initial placement of an offender in an appropriate federal penitentiary (for any offender who receives a sentence of two years or more, or a suspension of an original federal sentence)
  • investigate offenders' past and present behaviours by interviewing other inmates, institutional authorities, police, family and friends of the offender
  • plan programs for offenders during their imprisonment
  • assess the suitability of penitentiary inmates for release under parole and statutory release, and submit recommendations to the National Parole Board
  • develop liaisons and networks with other parole officers, social welfare and community agencies, staff in correctional institutions, psychiatric facilities and after care agencies
  • supervise those who have been released on parole, day parole or statutory release
  • offer guidance and direction to parolees in dealing with job related and personal problems.

Those working in the private sector are called parole supervisors. They are contracted to supervise parolees who live in communities and rural areas where Correctional Services of Canada does not maintain an office.

In general, probation officers:

  • prepare presentence reports as requested by the court which describe the convicted offender's personal and social life, and make recommendations for sentence including conditions which may be imposed by a court order
  • gather information through interviews with offenders, police, family, friends, employers, school authorities and others as a basis for the court to determine appropriate sentences and to assist in casework and the supervision of offenders
  • supervise individuals who have been released on a pretrial release; sentenced by the court to probation, community service work or conditional sentences or supervision; or released by a correctional or young offender centre on a temporary pass
  • administer and supervise individuals accepted to the alternative measures, extra judicial sanctions and fine option programs.

Parole and probation officers must be aware of available community resources such as psychiatric services and addiction treatment centres in addition to having a working knowledge of client behaviour and motivation.


Working Conditions

Parole and probation officers work in offices and courthouses, and visit offenders' homes and workplaces. Parole officers also work in penitentiaries. 

Parole and probation officers sometimes work long hours, including evenings and weekends, to interview offenders and their associates.


Personal Characteristics

Parole and probation officers need the following characteristics:

  • maturity and good judgement
  • effective time management skills
  • strong interpersonal skills
  • strong oral and written communication skills for writing and presenting reports.

They should enjoy dealing with and helping people, having clear rules and organized methods, and supervising others.


Educational Requirements

Parole officers employed by the federal government must have at least a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree with a specialization in sociology, psychology or criminology, or a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) or Bachelor of Applied Arts in Justice Studies degree. Some parole officers have a master's degree or equivalent. 

Parole supervisors employed in the private sector must have at least a two year college diploma in a related field.

Probation officers employed by the provincial government must have at least a two year diploma or a university degree in a directly related field. An equivalent combination of education and experience may be accepted. For probation officers engaged in a more dynamic counselling model, a four year bachelor's degree specializing in justice or human services may be required.

Knowledge of Aboriginal culture or languages is an asset for parole and probation officers.

For information about diploma and degree programs related to corrections, criminology and behaviour management, see the Correctional Peace Officer, Police OfficerPsychologist, Sociologist and Social Worker occupational profiles.

Section revised March 2012

Employment and Advancement

Parole officers are employed by Correctional Services of Canada and private agencies under contract to Correctional Services of Canada. Those employed by Correctional Services of Canada must complete a probationary period of one year. Advancement to section supervisor and area manager positions is based on merit and experience.

Probation officers are employed by the Government of Alberta.

Parole and probation officers are part of the larger National Occupational Classification 4155: Probation and Parole Officers and Related Occupations. In Alberta, 96 per cent of people employed in this classification work in  Public Administration industry.

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Public Administration industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Section revised November 2011

Salary

According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Probation and Parole Officers and Related Occupations occupational group earned from $30.37 to $38.80 an hour. The mean wage for this group was $36.94 an hour.

For more detailed information, see WAGEinfo.

Starting annual salaries in 2011 for probation officers employed by the provincial government range from $52,548.17 to $73,968.18 a year.

Section revised February 2012

Other Sources of Information

Post-secondary institution calendars and websites (see Educational Requirements above)

EDinfo website: www.alis.alberta.ca/edinfo

Correctional Services of Canada website: www.csc-scc.gc.ca

Alberta Justice and Solicitor General website: www.solgen.gov.ab.ca


Related Occupational Profiles
Addictions Counsellor
Child and Youth Care Worker
Correctional Services Worker
Social Worker

Related High School Subjects
Health, Recreation and Human Services (Human and Social Services; and Legal Studies); and Languages (other than English)

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
Social Sciences, Law and Religious Studies; and Social, Community and Protective Services

Produced May 2011
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For more information on career planning, occupations and educational programs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website at alis.alberta.ca, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

The information contained in this profile was current as of the dates shown. Salaries, employment outlook and educational programs may change. Please check the information before making any career decisions.


Government of Alberta, Human Services