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Probation officers oversee people who have been sentenced, supporting them and providing practical advice.

What do probation officers do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Probation officers work with people who have been sentenced, making sure they attend appointments and group programmes.

Other typical responsibilities include:

  • providing advice and information to offenders
  • running programmes to help offenders become rehabilitated
  • supervising junior staff
  • writing reports
  • supporting victims of crime.

Typical employers of probation officers

  • HM Prison and Probation Service
  • Local authorities (in Scotland only)

Vacancies are advertised on the Prisons and Probation Services website, and on local authorities' websites in Scotland.

Qualifications and training required

You need specialist qualifications to join the probation service. You can study for these on the job via the Professional Qualification in Probation (PQiP) scheme, and you'll work as a probation services officer while you study.

To be eligible for this scheme, you'll need at least a level 5 qualification, such as a diploma of higher education or a foundation degree.

If you have a degree, you may be eligible to apply for probation officer roles without completing the PQiP. Your degree will need to have included elements of criminal justice or social work – seek advice from the Probation Service if you think you could be eligible for this role.

Key skills for probation officers

Recruiters need candidates who can cope with stressful situations and keep an open mind. Other essential skills and qualities include:

  • assertiveness
  • a mature outlook
  • integrity
  • the ability to work in a team
  • administrative skills
  • excellent spoken and written communication skills.

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