Do I Need a Criminal Justice Degree To Be a Parole Officer?

parole officerOne of the most common concerns that those interested in criminal just have as they begin looking for jobs is whether or not they need a criminal justice degree to be a parole officer. That’s largely because the criminal justice field has varying education requirements for virtually every position. Some require only a certification or a two-year degree, while others require at least a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field. Increasingly, those looking to become a parole officer will need to bring at least some higher education along with them as they head to interviews. Even so, this educational requirement does vary between states depending on how the position is regulated.

State-By-State: A Guide to the Best Educational Options for Parole Officers

Thanks to increasingly tight regulation of those who work in the criminal justice fields, virtually every state has drafted a set of standards that must be enforced when hiring police officers, parole officers, and numerous other professionals who provide services to those charged with, or convicted of, a crime. Parole officers are often subject to state regulations, with the most common requirement across the country being a Bachelor in Criminal Justice degree. Most states will not accept applicants who have a degree in an unrelated field, unless they turned that degree into a Master in Criminal Justice.

While the most common requirement is a Bachelor in Criminal Justice degree, some states do offer their own certification programs for those seeking this position. Applicants must possess at least a minimal amount of criminal justice education in order to pass the certification exam and be considered qualified for the option position.

Some Universities Offer Concentrations in Probationary Work

One of the great things about increasing regulation of the criminal justice industry is that it has inspired universities across the country to offer more specialized criminal justice programs to today’s students. For aspiring parole or probation, officers, that’s actually good news. Many universities, such as Portland State University have developed a concentration in Probationary Services, which actually teaches aspiring officers how to deal with different types of criminals, personalities, and even age groups.

Though such a concentration is certainly not required by any state at the current time, applicants can only benefit from undertaking the coursework needed to put such a concentration on their resume. After all, most hiring managers are looking for those most qualified to meet with convicted offenders, guide them toward better choices, and keep them honest throughout the extent of their parole or probation period.

Related Resource: Online Criminal Justice Degrees

A Bachelor’s Degree is Just the Beginning

While applicants in most states won’t get their foot in the door without a Bachelor in Criminal Justice degree, it’s important to note that applicants must often pursue ongoing professional development during their careers. In an effort to ensure the ongoing quality of parole programs, most states require a certain amount of coursework to be completed by parole officers on a yearly basis. Sometimes, this requirement is as few as three college-equivalent credits a year.

For those who do get a criminal justice degree to be a parole officer; however, these courses are likely to be engaging and quite helpful. With educational requirements satisfied both before being hired and while on the job, those who take on this challenging position will find it quite rewarding over the long-term.