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Probation Officer Career in South Dakota

South Dakota residents that are drawn to probation officer careers typically harbor an affinity for social progression in the context of law enforcement and criminal justice. However probation officers should not be confused with parole officers. The United States District Court of South Dakota refers to both probation and parole as time periods of community supervision under the direction of a court-appointed “officer.” Yet, probation is a condition that occurs in lieu of a prison sentence and parole occurs after the release from a prison sentence.

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South Dakota’s Unique Probation System

Unlike most states, South Dakota implements an unconventional probation structure. Here, all probation matters are managed by the Department of Court Services, which works in accordance with the South Dakota Unified Judicial System. There are seven circuit courts that operate under the department, and each circuit court appoints several “court services officers” that are responsible for individual probationary cases.

Probation Officer Education in South Dakota

Currently, all probation officers in South Dakota must complete a bachelor’s degree program from an accredited college or university prior to employment. Although not mandatory, obtaining a degree in an applicable field such as psychology, criminal justice or social justice may prove advantageous. Probation officers that satisfy this minimum educational requirement often boost marketability with previous work experience. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics recommends field work in areas like:

  • Counseling
  • Probation
  • Social Work
  • Pretrial Services
  • Substance Abuse Treatment
  • Corrections
  • Parole
  • Criminal Investigations

Probation Officer Training in South Dakota

Many professionals learn how to become a probation officer in South Dakota through training regiments provided by previous employers and/or formal education sources. However, the South Dakota Unified Judicial System requires all new hires to complete at least twenty-eight hours of job orientation along with consistent on-the-job training throughout their first year of employment. Probation officers are then obligated to complete at least sixteen hours of job-related training each consecutive year of service.

Probation Officer Duties in South Dakota

Qualified workers that land probation officer jobs in South Dakota are responsible for insuring that assigned probationers comply with all court orders and stipulations. According the South Dakota Unified Judicial System, this responsibility may include the following:

  • Drug testing/screening
  • Collecting DNA samples
  • Pre-dispositional reports
  • Electric home monitoring
  • Restitution/payment tracking
  • Supporting alternative treatment programs
  • Interstate compact supervision
  • Counseling services
  • Pre-sentence investigations
  • Conducting risk assessments
  • Implementing juvenile diversion programs
  • Alcohol monitoring

Probation Officer Employment in South Dakota

Findings by the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation indicate there were 410 probation officers working statewide in 2010. By 2020, this number is expected to increase to 465. Dedicated professionals that earn advanced degrees, obtain specialized training, gain industry certifications, and are willing to relocate for a position may foster more job opportunities. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the top industries of employment for probation officers are:

  • State government
  • Local government
  • Individual and family services
  • Facilities support systems
  • Vocational rehabilitation services
  • Other residential care facilities

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