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What Is the Difference Between Probation and Parole?

Earning a degree in Criminal Justice opens up the door to rewarding and exciting careers. This fascinating degree subject matter prepares students for meaningful work within the branches of the police department, courts and corrections. Graduates who wish to counsel and lead an inmate back on the straight and narrow path towards rehabilitation may wish to explore their options for employment as a probation or parole officer.

Probation Officer
A probation officer is assigned to adult male, adult female and juvenile offenders after their release from jail. The probation officer will help the newly released offender make better choices in life to keep them out of trouble and from suffering a return visit to the lockup. In some cases, a judge may order an offender to report to a probation officer instead of doing jail time.

The probation officer will set up a schedule of weekly meetings with the offender that will take place at his or her office or in the offender’s home. Drug testing and substance abuse counselling helps to reduce the risk of another arrest. In addition, the probation officer will guide the offender with instruction and lend moral support.

Job Outlook For A Probation Officer
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for probation officers is expected to increase eighteen percent from 2010 to 2020. Pay scales will vary from state to state, however, the average yearly salary breaks down to approximately $25 per hour. Entry level probation officers may expect to earn $25,000 per year and will enjoy a yearly pay increase based on field experience.

Parole Officer
A parole officer is assigned to an incarcerated individual who has exemplified good behavior and is eligible for an early release. Unlike probation officers, who work with persons in the county jail system, the parole officer deals strictly with convicted felons who have done time in a state prison.

The duties of a parole officer include helping the ex-convict readjust to society by securing employment, monitoring behavior, and reporting parole violations to the courts. A parole officer may expect to do some traveling as many parolee cases may come from various prison locations within the state.

Job Outlook For A Parole Officer
The Bureau Of Labor Statistics predicts an eighteen percent job growth for parole officers from 2010 to 2020. In 2011, the median salary was $47,840, or approximately $23 per hour. States that hire the largest number of parole officers tend to have the highest earning potential and lifelong job security. California, Texas and Florida rank as the nation’s top employers with more than 5,000 parole officers employed each year.

Check out our Top Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs for 2015

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