A person can become a parole officer by completing a degree program; passing a background investigation; achieving a passing score on an exam given at city, state or federal levels; and applying for a position. The completion of a training programs is required in most states.
In order to become a parole officer, a person must first obtain a degree in a field such as Criminal Justice or Social Services. The specific degree needed depends on the desired position. While some states only require an associate or bachelor degree, a post-graduate degree is often required for positions offered at a federal level. Some colleges conform the curriculum to teach duties and procedures specific to the state.
Because the position falls as one within the criminal justice system, passing a thorough background check is necessary. This may include a search for felonies, misdemeanors and traffic violations. It may also include a credit check, as well as professional and personal reference verification. It may also include a search of known possible gang affiliations.
An exam must then be passed. The exam varies depending on level at which a person is tested. Once this exam is passed, a person can apply for a job as a parole officer and complete the training program specific to the position.
State governments sponsor training programs for future probation officers to complete. Once training is finished, the individual may have to successfully pass a certification test or work as much as a year as a trainee.
A probation officer who chooses to specialize in a specific type of casework, such as substance abuse or domestic violence, needs to complete special training for that type of casework.
A majority of agencies require applicants to be at least 21 years old but no older than 37, pass a drug test, have a valid driver's license and have a clean criminal record.