A probation officer’s role is to monitor a probationer’s progress and their compliance with the terms of their probation. It is by no means an easy job, as you have a responsibility towards both society and the individual probationer.
You are there to motivate real people to stay on the right track and take appropriate action if they choose not to. It is not a job for everyone, but it can be incredibly rewarding for the right person.
When working as a probation officer, the goal is to offer support to the probationers and help them turn their lives around and achieve their goals. Few things compare to witnessing a success story and knowing you formed a small, yet highly significant, part.
If you are in the process of looking for a new job, and if you need help boosting your resume, then you have come to the right place!
This guide will show you how to complete each section of your probation officer resume, and to further demonstrate, we have included a full sample resume at the bottom of the article.
Resume objective for probation officers
What is the first thing a hiring manager will see when picking up your probation officer’s resume? The resume objective. While there are exceptions to the rule, this is usually where a person looks first, which gives you an excellent opportunity to impress already within the first few seconds.
Use a professional tone throughout your resume; make sure you come off as someone ready for such an important role and sound upbeat and inspiring. Probationers need guidance and help, and as a probation officer, you often take on the role of something similar to a life coach.
Organized probation officer with over 11 years of experience and a background in criminal psychology. Observant, reliable, and communicative, with knowledge of both federal laws and state laws and regulations. Dedicated and ready for a new challenge.
Resume skills for probation officer
The ideal candidate for a job as a probation officer is a critical thinker with clear communication who isn’t afraid to make decisions. You need to be organized, know how to handle paperwork, write reports, and have excellent social skills.
A probation officer also needs to be flexible, observant and determined. It is excellent if you can also list some hard skills like knowing state laws and perhaps even federal laws.
Having a valid driver’s license tends to be required, so that is one thing to mention. You can also bring up any relevant educational background and your experience in the business. Mix soft skills (personality traits) and hard skills (actual knowledge or expertise) if possible.
Familiar with courtroom practices | Observant | Knowledge of federal laws | Knowledge of state laws | Valid driver’s license | Report writing skills | Organized | Psychology background | B.A in Behavioral Science | 4+ years of experience
Probation officer work experience
A tip when listing your work experience for a probation officer job is to be highly specific with what you have done in the past. Mention any transferable skills, such as experience with counseling, criminal justice, and psychology, but don’t go back more than 10-15 years.
Even if you did something impressive back in 1974, a hiring manager is unlikely to care too much about it, so focus on relevant and recent work experience.
Occasionally, an internship in a relevant field could be required, and some employers might even hire you as an intern first before promoting you to a permanent position. This would be to make sure you are a good fit for the job.
In this section, you can list both paid positions and internships – preferably related to your future tasks as a probation officer. You don’t have to restrict yourself to listing only probation officer jobs if you feel you don’t have enough experience, but just make sure this section proves your expertise.
Sample Work Experience
State of Idaho
Probation Officer, 2014 – 2019
Worked closely with probationers to guide them in the right direction, and was responsible for identifying factors that could indicate a relapse or regression. Set up plans to avoid failure and made court recommendations based on shown behaviors.
- Developed close personal relationships with all probationers, making it easier to predict and prevent regression and other problems before they occurred.
- Traveled over 45 hours per month and carried out approximately 20 pre-scheduled appointments per week.
- Wrote a detailed grand (which was implemented) regarding the proper treatment of individuals in custody.
- Collaborated closely with law enforcement and county jail to monitor the behavior of offenders who were about to be released.
Kentucky Department of Corrections
Assistant Probation Officer, 2011 – 2014
Handled paperwork, documentation, and reports, and introduced probationers to practical resources for finding jobs. Assisted probationers with discovering their skills and assets and provided a positive approach to finding a fresh start. Also monitored each probationer’s compliance with court rulings and encouraged rehabilitation.
- Was able to prevent a probationer from relapsing by noticing early signs and taking appropriate action.
- Held a perfect attendance record with no missed appointments during employment.
- Managed and directed a new initiative and a veteran’s program.
- Developed a new and modernized case plan to prevent repeat offences.
City of Indianapolis and Marion County
Trainee probation officer, 2009 – 2011
Evaluated probationers and worked to find suitable treatment options and programs to involve them in, to help lower the risk of regression. Prepared detailed and personal plans for each probationer together with a senior probation officer, and composed progress reports.
- Implemented a schedule that made probationer visits less rushed and more thorough, with time to sit down and talk. This reduced the percentage of regressions in 3 months.
- Participated actively in all daily tasks and activities, which led to a job offer at the end of the training program.
- Got through to a probationer who had struggled with relapses and regressions, and who managed to turn his life around.
- Found a more efficient way to write detailed progress reports, which saved time throughout the workday.
Probation officer education
Hiring managers love seeing an educational background in, for example, social work, psychology, behavioral science, criminal justice, or similar, but it is rarely a requirement.
A B. A or higher degree tends to be the preference, so make sure you list your academic achievements even if they are unrelated to the field. If a job would require a specific degree, this is usually mentioned in the job post.
The most important thing for a probation officer is a good personality fit. If you have a compelling and robust resume – the hiring manager will probably look past the fact that you majored in something unrelated.
Meridian University, Petaluma, CA
Master in Psychology, 2018 – 2020
Ashford University, San Diego, CA
Bachelor of Arts in Applied Behavioral Science, 2014 – 2018
Southern New Hampshire University, Manchester, NH
Associate Degree in Criminal Justice, 2012 – 2014
- Concentration: Corrections
Every state has its own rules, regulations, and preferences for what a person needs to work as a probations officer. Still, if we look at the general picture – you usually need a driver’s license to drive around and meet with probationers, and they might want you to be at least 21 years old.
You will also need to pass a criminal background check, for obvious reasons, a drug test, and an exam to prove your competence, but other than that, there aren’t any specific courses you need to have taken to apply.
Once you pass the initial stage of the hiring process, the chance to participate in a training program may arise, where you are taught everything you need to know to work as a probation officer in that state.
These training programs tend to include introductory psychology, an introduction to the job, court procedures for state codes, and other elements. It is not unusual for the training to be continuous throughout your employment.
If you feel you have courses you would like to highlight in your resume, such as having taken a course in psychology or if you have had probation officer training in the past, this is where you want to mention it. If not, just omit this section.
We recommend that you mention your driver’s license either in this section or under ‘Certifications’ to clarify that you can drive.
- Probation Officer Training Program
- Positive Psychology: Resilience Skills
- Defensive Driving Course
Most states in the United States require probation officers to be certified, which you achieve by participating in a training program before taking on a job.
These programs tend to cover local laws and regulations that you are likely to encounter, and classes in introductory psychology and methods to modify unacceptable behavior.
What certifications you need usually depend on the jurisdiction you intend to work in, which means that even if you were certified previously, it might no longer be valid if you apply for a job in a new state.
There are no specific certification requirements for a probation officer, meaning there isn’t a set certification that will make you eligible for any job. Many workplaces offer the required training course as part of the hiring progress.
Here are a couple of examples just to show you what it could look like on a probation officer’s resume, but it will likely vary depending on where you apply for work.
- Valid Driver’s Licence with a clean record
- STC Core Training Program Certification
- Certified Forensic Social Worker (National Association of Forensic Counselors)
- Certified Forensic Interviewer (National Association of Forensic Counselors)
- Certified Cognitive-Behavioral Therapist
- Forensic Psychology
Complete probation officer resume sample
All this is a lot to take in, we know, but writing a quality resume is not as hard as it sounds. We took to the internet to find a real job posting for a probation officer, which you will see below, and we wrote a full sample resume as if we were applying for the position.
Most probation officer positions do not have too many requirements in terms of work experience and education, but the job offered here is a senior probation officer position, making it a little different.
They want someone with a Bachelor’s degree, a year of relevant graduate training, a CA driver’s license, and an STC Certificate. Now, let’s see what a resume could look like when applying for this position.
Experienced probation officer with 5+ years of documented experience and an up-to-date STC certificate. Dedicated to the cause, knowledge of state- and federal laws, excellent organizer, and passion for making a difference.
Dedicated | Clean driver’s license | 5+ years of experience | Knowledge of social services | Problem solver | Diligent | STC certified | Detail-oriented | Attentive | Knowledge of court procedures and laws | Communicative | Excellent listener
Texas Department of Criminal Justice
Chief Probation Officer, 2013 – 2020
Managed a large group of staff to ensure maximal success for the probation cases assigned to our department. Worked closely with the Superior Court, held civic group meetings, maintained cooperative relationships with public safety agencies, and reviewed proposed operational policy changes.
- Established and maintained a better relationship with criminal justice organizations compared to previous management.
- Resolved complex internal issues within the team, which led to better efficiency and a more positive work environment.
- Trained 20+ new probation officers during employment.
- Organized trips to local High Schools to talk about the profession.
County of Siskiyou, CA
Deputy probation officer, 2009 – 2013
Conducted counseling individually and in group, prepared case files, conducted interviews, prepared Superior Court recommendations, made appropriate assessments for juveniles and adults, and ensured compliance with probation conditions.
- Trained and capacitated three other probation officers for the department and guided them through the process of becoming STC certified.
- Introduced a better system for keeping track of progress reports and potential regressions, which made it easier to prevent a regression ahead of time.
- Worked closely with law enforcement to create appropriate plans of action for each probationer.
- Successfully motivated a reluctant probationer to want to comply with his community service arrangements.
- STC Core Training Program Certification
- Valid CA Driver’s license with a clean driving record
South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD
Master’s Degree in Community Development, 2007 – 2009
- Graduated in the top 5% of the class.
South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD
Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology, 2004 – 2008
- Adult Corrections Officer Core Course (BSCC)
- Manager and Administrator Core Course (BSCC)
- Juvenile Corrections Officer Core Course (BSCC)
- Adult Corrections Officer Supplemental Core Course (BSCC)
Professionalism and strong work ethics are essential when pursuing a job as a probation officer. You want to show up to the interview well-dressed and put-together, but first, you need a resume that will get you a phone call, or you will never see the inside of the hiring manager’s office.
Writing a probation officer resume that stands out is not hard, as past experience isn’t generally required. Still, instead, it becomes essential to portray yourself as someone who could handle all the responsibilities the job entails. This can be the tricky part.
Here are a couple of the most important things to keep in mind when you prepare your resume:
- You don’t necessarily need relevant experience to get a job as a probation officer, but if you have it – anything to show that you would do a good job, your chances of getting the job increase.
- A probation officer needs to handle paperwork, appointments, and administrative duties, so show that you are responsible, organized, and reliable, and have good computer knowledge.
- As a probation officer, you will be investigating the probationers’ history and background, so you should adapt your resume to the specific job posting to show that you are attentive.
Tips from Experts
“Seeing people actually become productive citizens – that is the best part of the job.” – Jonathan Coachman, Alabama Board of Pardons and Parols
“If you are applying to become a probation officer, it is very important you explain how your skills, qualities, and experience are a match for the role of a probation officer.” – Richard McMunn, Award-winning Entrepreneur
Working as a probation officer might have been something you planned to do temporarily – perhaps right after you finished university or when you weren’t sure what to do next, and then you ended up loving it?
This is surprisingly common, as it is a much more engaging and enriching career than many realize. Is it stressful at times? Yes. Is it emotionally exhausting? Sometimes. Is it an opportunity to make a difference? Absolutely.
Regardless of your past work experience, the first step is to create a resume that shows you off as a reliable multitasker who can organize, coordinate, and inspire others, and who isn’t afraid to work hard.
Resumes are more than just pieces of paper that tell a hiring manager who you are – they are a marketing tool and a chance to get you chosen over other probation officer applicants.