- Supervise people serving community and prison sentences, as well as help rehabilitate ex-convicts
- You'll need the ability to deal with a wide range of people, report writing skills, and organisational skills
- You could progress to become a senior probation officer or area manager, managing a team of staff
As a probation officer, you'll work with offenders before, during and after their sentence. You may work in the community, prisons or approved premises (previously probation hostels).
- Interviewing offenders before sentencing or parole
- 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 about early release
- Working with victims of violent or sexual crime when prisoners are being considered for parole
- Working with prisoners about to be released
You'll also work with other agencies like the police, social services, and youth offending teams.
You'll work in an office. You'll also travel to community programmes, group sessions, prisons and court.
To be a probation officer, you'll need patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations, the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure, thoroughness and attention to detail, knowledge of psychology, flexibility and openness to change, the ability to work on your own, customer service skills, and counselling skills.
You can do a foundation degree, higher national diploma, or degree in criminology, sociology, psychology, or youth and community work. Other subjects might still be acceptable. Once you complete your course, you can then apply for the Professional Qualification in Probation training programme.
You can also start as a probation services officer, then take the Level 3 Diploma in Probation Practice and further on-the-job training, gain relevant experience, and finally apply to join the Professional Qualification in Probation training programme.
You could also do a probation officer degree apprenticeship.
Paid or voluntary experience of working with vulnerable people or people with challenging behaviour would be beneficial before applying.
Direct application is possible if you already hold certain qualifications approved by HM Prison & Probation Service, such as a social work degree that includes a probation option.
You'll also need to be a British or Commonwealth citizen, a European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) citizen, or a foreign national with the right to stay and work in the UK for an indefinite period. You must also pass enhanced background checks.
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.
Further promotion usually means moving into management and away from working with offenders. You could become an area manager or chief executive.