Skip to content

Wellbeing

Probation officer

Probation officers supervise people serving community and prison sentences and help them to stay away from crime.

Annual Salary

£22,250 to £40,000

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

36 to 38 a week

You could work: evenings / weekends; occasionally

4%
Future employment

There will be 4% more Probation officer jobs in 2025.
In your local area

What's it all about?

Day to day tasks

In this role you could:

  • interview offenders before sentencing or parole
  • make sure offenders attend supervision appointments and take part in group programmes
  • run programmes to change offenders' behaviour
  • assess risks and write reports to help prisons and parole review boards decide about early release
  • work with victims of violent or sexual crime when prisoners are being considered for parole
  • work with prisoners about to be released

Working environment

You could work in a prison, in a court, in an office or in the community.

Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • applying directly
University

You can do a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in:

  • criminology
  • sociology
  • psychology
  • youth and community work

Other subjects may be acceptable.

Once you complete your course you can apply for the Professional Qualification in Probation training programme.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
For more information
Apprenticeship

You may be able to do a probation officer degree apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a degree apprenticeship
For more information
Work

You could start as a probation services officer, then:

  • take the Level 3 Diploma in Probation Practice and further on-the-job training
  • get relevant experience
  • apply to join the Professional Qualification in Probation training programme

Volunteering and work experience

You'll be expected to have paid or voluntary experience of working with vulnerable people or people with challenging behaviour before you apply for training.

Direct application

You may be able to apply for probation jobs if you already hold a level 5 or equivalent qualification approved by HM Prison & Probation Service. For example, a social work degree that includes a probation option.

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

More information

Career tips

It will help if you have some knowledge of how the criminal justice and rehabilitation systems work.

Professional and industry bodies

You can join the Probation Institute for professional development opportunities.

Further information

You'll find more on how to become a probation officer from HM Prison & Probation Service.

With experience you could become a senior probation officer.

With further training you could specialise in working with particular groups, like high-risk or sexual offenders.

Further promotion usually means moving into management and away from working with offenders. You could become an area manager.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • knowledge of psychology
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • the ability to work on your own
  • customer service skills
  • counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
  • knowledge of English language
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
My top 5 skills
Please sign in to compare your skills to this job. Sign in

To save or view your choices and results you must sign in or register (takes 1 minute).

Sign in Register