The most basic parole officer requirements typically involve a college degree, training, and the ability to communicate effectively with others. Though degrees in corrections, social work, or criminal justice tend to prepare potential parole officers the most for this career, many employers accept degrees in any field. It is often necessary to start out in an internship or as a trainee, with the possibility of advancement to parole officer or supervisor within a few years. Certain personality traits tend to work well in this field, such as good communication skills, the ability to multitask, and an interest in learning about and encouraging other people.
Though many people are not aware of their ambition to become a parole officer while still in school, it is possible to start preparing for this career as early as high school. Those who start preparations in secondary school should pay particular attention to classes that discuss government, justice, and psychology, as these are all important aspects of this field. Learning a foreign language that is often spoken in the area is an advantage that should be explored by students trying to meet parole officer requirements early on. Of course, potential officers should plan to attend college since nearly all positions of this sort require at least a bachelor's degree. Students should consider majoring in criminal justice, psychology, social work, sociology, law, or corrections, though most employers find any major to be sufficient.
It is usually difficult to get a job as a parole officer right out of college, which is why training is recommended first. Many colleges offer internships or trainee positions that allow students and recent graduates to get on-the-job preparation, though parole officer requirements do not necessarily mandate that potential officers take this route. In fact, some graduates find it easier to get a related job title, such as corrections officer or police officer, if they cannot become a parole officer right away. This is because there is potential to make contacts in this field and gain experience, thereby increasing the odds of getting a parole officer position when one opens up.
Parole officer requirements often include certain skills that job seekers in this field should possess; the ability to multitask well enough to handle several cases at once is perhaps the most important. For example, it is difficult to do well in this industry without having a passion for helping and understanding others, which is why a background in psychology, sociology, or social work is usually impressive to employers. Additionally, it should be noted that this industry can be dangerous, since parole officers work with convicted criminals everyday. For this reason, one of the main parole officer requirements is that officers be tough and capable of handling conflict, while also remaining encouraging and supportive to newly released criminals.