Starting a Career as a Probation Officer

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Thinking of starting a career as a Probation Officer and wondering what to do next?

Whether you would like to join the United Kingdoms National Probation Service, with more than 20,000 staff, or a private Community Rehabilitation Company, we have tailored a short list of key tips to get your foot in the door.

  • Firstly, and most importantly, we recommend gaining some first-hand experience. This will help with job applications as well as provide a good understanding of the role itself. It allows you to learn exactly what the job entails and if this is the career you would like to pursue. To gain this experience, you could try contacting Senior Probation Officers at your local probation office. If this is unsuccessful, try speaking to local alcohol and drug agencies to speak with and even shadow professionals. Ideally when applying for Probation Service Officer positions, recruiters will seek at least two years of recent experience. But voluntary work within probation, or offender management experience with a related organisation will go a long way.
  • Alternatively, there are a number of charity organisations who have contracts to supply resettlement (housing, employment and training) services to offenders on behalf of the probation service. These positions can be easier to attain and would get you direct offender management experience and first-hand experience of holding a caseload similar to that of a Probation Officer, although with less responsibilities.
  • Qualifications are key, in order to be successful in your application to be a Probation Officer, a QCF Level 5 qualification (such as a degree, DipHE or higher apprenticeship) which includes modules in the criminal justice system, is required in order to apply. If you are applying for agency positions you must already hold a Diploma in Probation Studies, Diploma in Social Work or a  Certificate of Qualification in Social Work.
  • Once you have attained the above, start composing a CV containing all your achievements and prepare applications for suitable vacancies. If you would like advice on tailoring your CV, please get in touch and one of our consultants will be able to assist.

If youre looking at agency work, as mentioned above, recruiters will seek at least two years of recent experience. If you are just starting out, we advise applying directly to the National Probation Service and attaining the desired experience before applying to an agency.

Have a look at our latest vacancies here.

If you have previously worked within probation and would like to get back into offender management, we provide free refresher training courses for probation sector re-joiners. Our refresher programme will hopefully offer these leavers  pathway back into the probation service on both sides public and private.