What is a Probation Officer?

What is a Probation Officer?

While many people perceive probation officers as mere supervisors of prisoners, their position in the judicial system is considerably broader and more complicated. A probation officer is one who deals with and tracks prisoners in order to stop them from undertaking criminal acts. They carry out anything the court orders to them, the most common is the supervision of the defendant and the review of the offender’s personal and criminal background prior to the sentencing.

Many probation officers do not participate only when a probation sentence has been issued but may provide information to prosecutors, judges, and court officials long before the trial start. In several states, probation officers also take up the role of a parole officer, who oversees the re-entry of ex-convicts into the community.

Getting Started With The Probation Officer Exam

What does a probation officer do?
A probation officer’s job description typically includes their roles and responsibilities, which range from managing multiple cases to overseeing probationers’ adherence to their probation terms. They assist offenders in carrying out their probation by implementing different supervision methods and providing additional resources as may be necessary. They function as a liaison between judges and offenders, monitor the progress of probationers, and make recommendations.

What are the duties of a probation officer?
Probation officers duties typically include the following:

  • Evaluate criminals in order to decide the correct treatment plan
  • Provide criminals with resources to help with recovery
  • Discuss options for treatment with criminals
  • Arrange programs for rehabilitation
  • Supervise and monitor the progress of offenders
  • Perform meetings with criminals, their friends, and family
  • Write documentation on the progress of criminals
  • Investigate the offender’s background for the court

Probation officers deal with prisoners who have been granted probation rather than time in prison, who are in custody, or who were released from jail. Below are the types of probation officers and correctional treatment specialists:

  1. Probation Officers (also called Community Supervision Officers in some areas) – Oversee all people who have been put on probation. They seek to ensure that the person is not a danger to the public and to assist with their recovery. They write papers describing each perpetrator’s treatment plans and development since they have been placed on probation. 
  2. Pre-trial Services Officers – Examine the offender’s history to assess whether the offender can safely return to the public before his or her trial date. They will consider the risk and make recommendations to the judge who rules on the appropriate number of the fine or bond. Once prisoners are released back into society, pre-trial officers oversee them to ensure that they remain on probation terms and participate in their trials.
  3. Parole Officers – Deal with people who were released from prison and are performing their probation to help them re-enter the community. They track and provide diversified services for post-release inmates, such as substance abuse counseling or job training, to aid with their recovery. Thus, the officers attempt to change the actions of the criminal and therefore reduce the likelihood of the offender committing another offense and having to go back to prison or jail.
  4. Correctional Treatment Specialists (also known as Case Managers or Correctional Counselors) – Counsel and create recovery programs for prisoners to pursue when they’re no longer in jail or on parole. Detainees may be tested using questionnaires and psychological evaluations. They also collaborate with offenders, probation officers, and representatives of other agencies to establish parole and release programs. For example, they may develop education and training programs to enhance the job skills of inmates.

The number of incidents the probation officer is dealing with at a varies depending on the needs of the defendant and the risks involved with each incident. Higher risk criminals typically have more time and resources. The size of the caseload often varies by department.

What are the requirements to become a probation officer?
You will need a 4-year bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, social work, psychology, or related fields to become a probation officer. Most probation officers have a master’s degree in criminal justice. Aside from their training, federal officials should also have at least two years of experience working.

Aside from the requirements mentioned above, aspiring parole officers also have to meet the following probation officer requirements:

  • Must be a citizen of the United States.
  • Must be less than 37 years old at the time of application.
  • Must have a college degree and appropriate training.
  • Must have a good moral character.
  • Must pass written tests, endurance exams, and other ability tests.

Probation Officer Test Format and Structure

The probation officer test consists of multiple-choice questions. There are two forms of taking the test: paper and pencil or electronic. Each organization shall decide the method used.

In the paper and pencil format, the exam is included in a single test booklet and the corresponding answer pad. You must answer all the examination questions on the answer sheet, not in the test booklet. Normally, testing will be conducted in group settings.

For the electronic version, you will be prompted through the test steps on the computer and record your answers as prompted.

The total test time for either paper and pencil or electronic form will be roughly 2-2 ½ hours. Most applicants have sufficient time to finish all the test items.

Test Section Description No. of Questions Estimated Duration
Following Written Directions Apply a set of standards to assess the correct course of action or solution. 22 15 minutes
Problem Solving Assess a set of facts and create logical conclusions. Following the set of facts, a set of assumptions is provided, each of which is to be tested and presumed to be true, false, or indeterminable, solely based on the preceding set of facts. 12 10 minutes
Reading Comprehension Read the passage and respond to questions that may include the identification of facts and details, the analysis of knowledge, or the making of conclusions. 17 15 minutes
Writing Clarity Recognize and use simple writing, preventing issues with writing that lead to vague or incorrect communication. 13 10 minutes
Writing Detail Assess written material and decide whether it provides a useful, detailed explanation of people or events. 16 10 minutes
Accuracy with Forms and Coded Information Part A: Verify the accuracy of the data encoded in the documentation forms opposed to the written summary; and Part B: Compare the encoded information to a brief list of information and decide whether the encoded information fits any of the items on that list. Part A:

10

Part B:

11

Part A:

5 minutes

Part B:

3 minutes

Work Attitudes  This portion of the test includes a variety of test items designed to test attitudes regarding job-related circumstances and actions, representing qualities such as conscientiousness, confidence, managing work pressure, interacting with others, and integrity/trustworthiness. 125 30 minutes

Note: The Work Attitudes portion of the test must not be mistaken with a psychological test that evaluates the degree of your mental health. The Probation Officer Test is not a test of your mental well-being and must not be interpreted as such.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much do probation officers make?
The average probation officer salary in the United States is around $53,020 per year. Wage rates usually start at $34,630 and go up to $81,176.

What is a juvenile probation officer?
Juvenile Probation Officers (JPOs) supervise young people who were charged or convicted of offenses and are then put on probation or under preventive supervision. JPOs work closely with police departments, social services, colleges, and parents to help young people succeed.

What does a federal probation officer do?
U.S. probation officers and pretrial officers offer support to protect the public; help federal courts ensure fair judicial process, and investigate and oversee individuals convicted with and charged with crimes against the United States.

How to become a probation officer?

The following is a five-step guide on how to become a probation officer:

Step 1. Meet the minimum requirements.

Step 2. Get a degree.

Step 3. Apply for a position.

Step 4. Complete in-service training.

Step 5. Get sworn in.

Can my probation officer see if I was pulled over?
If you are on statutory probation and your name, DL, or SSN is transmitted through NCIC, which is pretty much a standard traffic stop protocol, the probation officer will be informed almost instantly. Ninety-nine percent of the time, he or she calls the police force that runs the details via the NCIC to figure out why, and if you were detained, checked in, or let go with a notice.

How to file a complaint on my probation officer’s supervisor?
If you like to lodge a complaint on your probation officer, call the probation office and ask them how you make a complaint. You may also send a letter to your district’s chief probation officer detailing your concerns. Be cautious as this might not turn out to be good for you.

Does a parole officer carry an identification badge?
A probation officer and/or a probation officer shall be issued with an identification card. They were given badges in several states, carry a badge wallet with their state ID, but they also had a belt badge when carrying a gun. Many people believe the badge is an essential Identification for an officer; however, you can purchase a badge online. The most important thing is the government-issued photo ID. 

Can a probation officer order rehab?
If your probation violation includes alcohol or drugs, like being caught in possession of drugs or failing a drug test, your probation officer may order you to be rehabilitated. If you decline, you can end up in jail instead.

Probation Officer Test Prep and Test-Taking Techniques

Only individuals who passed the Probation Officer Test will be deemed eligible, which means that a 70 percent pass mark is required. To achieve this, one actually needs to train and practice in whatever way they can. Preparation can include any of the following forms:

  1. Read the official exam notification – this provides the applicant an idea of the duration of the test, what to expect, and what testing centers are providing the exam.
  2. Use the official study guides.
  3. Take practice tests on numerous civil service sites – ideally tests that provide both realistic questions and answers.
  4. Search the internet for exam tips.
  5. Consult with current probation officers and get an idea of what will happen from the tests.

Aside from the above-mentioned test preparation, we’ve also outlined test-taking techniques you can utilize when taking the examination:

Tip #1. Work fast, but not as quickly as to get reckless. The time limit has been set to give you a great deal of time. When you have a concern during the exam, lift your hand, and a proctor will facilitate you.

Tip #2. Always read all possible options before you give your answer. When you don’t know the answer to the questions, it’s usually better to skip and just go to the others. If you finish before the timer ends, you may go back to the questions you may have missed.

Tip #3. If you’re not sure of the answer to the question, remove the answers that you think are wrong, and then mark the answer that is your best guess. You’re not going to be punished for guessing. Your score is actually the number of questions that you answered correctly, so you shouldn’t leave any problems unanswered even if you’re just guessing.

Tip #4. You must have a good night’s sleep the night prior to the actual test. Many people find that eating a snack or a light meal for an hour or two before testing is good prep.

Probation Officer Test Sample Questions

Question #1

Mark the letter on your answer sheet corresponding to the correct action or solution.

Rules for Assigning Cases to Facilities:

The four facilities are: (A) Main, (B) West, (C) North, and (D) East. Listed below are

the rules for assigning cases to facilities:

  • Main facility is for adult males who require maximum security.
  • West facility is for adult males who require minimum security.
  • North facility is for juveniles (ages 18 and under).
  • East facility is for adult females of all security levels. 
Problem Main West North East
S1 Adult male, minimum security A B C D
S2 14-year-old youth  A B C D

Question #2

Facts:

Mr. Jackson works for Facility A.

Ms. Gaynor is a part-time employee.

All Facility A employees work full-time.

Facility B has some part time employees.
Conclusions:

True False Uncertain
S1 Ms. Gaynor works for Facility A. A B C
S2 Ms. Gaynor works for Facility B. A B C
S3 Mr. Jackson works full time.  A B C

Question #3

First aid is to be given in order of priority. Problems with breathing, circulation, and bleeding are the highest priority. Injuries to the neck and spine should be identified and treated before injuries to the extremities. For example, in treating fractures, injuries to the neck and spine are always treated first; then the head and rib cage; and finally, the arms and legs. Open chest wounds, open abdominal wounds, shock, and serious burns should all be cared for before fractures are treated. 

According to the passage, which of the following injuries should receive the lowest priority for treatment? 

  • An airway blockage.
  • Heavy bleeding from a cut on the arm.
  • Broken ribs.
  • A broken ankle. 

Question #4

If, in the event that the weapon is found, it should be analyzed. 

According to the passage, which of the following injuries should receive the lowest priority for treatment? 

  • If, in the event that
  • If
  • Now
  • Since if 

Question #5

In a crisis situation, you are willing to lead others. 

  • Strongly Disagree
  • Disagree
  • In Between
  • Agree
  • Strongly Agree 
Open