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What are the pros and cons of being a probation officer?

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The benefits of being a probation officer are job security and benefiting society. The downsides to being a probation officer are paperwork, dangerous situations, and a potentially irregular work schedule.

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Probation officers serve a very necessary function in society. The probation officer monitors people who require court-ordered supervision. People sometimes commit crimes that require some punishment but an extended lockup would be detrimental to their lives, and increase the likelihood of further offenses later. In those situations, they are put on probation rather than going to jail or prison. The probation officer makes sure that the offender is following the conditions of their probation.

Being a probation officer can be a very rewarding job, because the officer helps people reintegrate back into society. Probation officers can serve as role models and can provide career advice in order to better help the offender. Probation officers are often state employees with good benefits that include insurance and pension plans. The job has variety, and it allows one to help others while being out in society rather than being stuck behind a desk. Many offenders at the county and city level are given probation for minor felonies, thus ensuring the long-term need for probation officers.

There are also several detriments to being a probation officer. In some states, the starting pay is rather low and one has to be on call at all hours of the day. One can become drained from seeing the same offenders arrested repeatedly and assigned probation when it appears as though the sentence does not help. One also has to deal with unsafe situations, since many offenders are associated with others with criminal backgrounds. Sometimes the person assigned to the probation officer can be rebellious as well, thus creating another unsafe situation.

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Probation officers are specially trained officials who normally hold a degree in criminal justice, sociology, psychology, or a related field. They are normally employed either by the federal government or a law enforcement agency. Their job is to supervise criminal offenders who have been sentenced to a period of probation rather than imprisonment. The officer consults with a variety of agencies in law enforcement, social services, and others. The officer also holds regular meetings with the offenders and sometimes with their families. It is the officer's duty to monitor the offender to ensure compliance with the terms of their sentence.

The advantages of being a probation officer.

Probation officers play a significant role in society and in the law enforcement process. They help offenders to assimilate back into society and, in so doing, also help the community. Officers help offenders rehabilitate and assist them in becoming productive and law-abiding members of their communities.

The position offers stability and benefits. Probation officers are government employees and, as such, are entitled to fair compensation and benefits such as paid vacations, sick leave, pension, health, dental, and life insurance packages. Furthermore, being in government employ means greater job stability.

Probation work can be exciting because officers go into the streets to determine whether offenders are violating their probation by using drugs or carrying weapons. Some officers are even allowed to carry guns because they work with drug dealers and gangs. They can also sometimes work with police officers to arrest those they have been assigned to who have failed to comply with the court's instructions.

A probation officer's work offers much variety and is, therefore, unlikely to be boring. They meet with family members and associates of the perpetrator and regularly go to court to offer recommendations or testimony to judges about those under their supervision. They also tie into community programs and meet regularly with other officers. They help offenders in pursuing positive pursuits and also participate in support meetings or outpatient programs. Once an offender has been rehabilitated, an officer feels a sense of achievement and pride.

The disadvantages:

Probation officers have to be constantly on call and some departments may require them to be available twenty-four hours a day.

Working as a probation officer can lead to cynicism and feelings of distrust in other people because the type of criminal element they deal with often lie about their behavior. Others related to the offender may also tell untruths in efforts to mislead the officer.

Probation officers need to complete loads of paperwork. They constantly need to write reports about offenders, do sentencing recommendations, and write background reports.

Some of the tasks officers do, may be really unpleasant. They are required to, for example, regularly take and transport urine samples of drug offenders. 

Probation officers may be constantly confronted by dangerous situations. Offenders may feel that the officers impose on their freedoms and may want to break away by using violence or attempt to even permanently rid themselves of the officer. The offenders sometimes live in dangerous neighborhoods that the officers have to visit. The officer also has to interact with members of the offender's family, who may also have criminal tendencies or be psychologically or emotionally unstable.

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Probation officers are charged with the duty of keeping track of individuals who have been charged with crimes that require court ordered supervision.  It is the probation officer's primary duty to try to ensure that these individuals do not engage in acts that are prohibited under the law or under the conditions that were established for the individual to remain in society.  

The pros of being a probation officer include a variety of job opportunities and work settings as well as a minimal educational requirement.  Unlike police officers, one is not required to undergo extensive training to become a probation officer.  Furthermore, probation officers can work out of a probation office, a group home, or at a correctional institution.

The cons of being a probation officer include interacting with people who have been convicted of crimes, who may be violent, try to escape their probation, or carry a weapon. Being a probation officer can be a dangerous job at times and the safety of the officer may be threatened.  In addition, the probation officer may not be able to keep track of every criminal under his or her charge and that person may commit another crime which involves harm to someone else.  Furthermore, there is often a great deal of paperwork that must be done in the day to day job of a probation officer.

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What are the pros and cons of being a parole officer?

There are two major types of pros that come along with a career as a parole officer.  First, there are economic pros.  While you will not get paid a tremendously high salary, the job security is good.  There will always be demand for parole officers.  In addition, as a government worker, you will get decent benefits, which is not something you can be sure of getting in the private sector.  The other type of pro is related to job satisfaction.  This is a job in which you can, at times, make a real difference in a person’s life.  You get to tackle interesting problems and there will be times when you can solve those problems and help a person straighten their life out.

However, there are things that are bad about the job and the major bad aspects of the job also have to do with job satisfaction.  This can be a stressful job.  You are trying to help people and you may get emotionally involved in that effort.  The people are often going to be very hard to help and you will often fail.  The people you are trying to help may resent you and lie to you and otherwise make it hard for you to try to help them.

Thus, this is a job that can be rewarding but can also be very frustrating.

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