Parole Officer Careers in California

According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, California parole officers earn some of the highest salaries in the country.  The earn from $5,033 up to $7,437 per month, or between $60,396 and $89,244 per year. This is in addition to a very generous benefits package that includes

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  • Medical, vision and dental
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • 401k
  • Retirement at age 50

These outstanding salaries and benefits are used to entice the most qualified professionals to one of the most challenging parole environments in the nation.  With almost 148,000 parolees in the state, which constitutes almost 18 percent of the entire U.S. parole population, California parole officers must exhibit superior management and rehabilitative skills to limit recidivism.  In 2000, almost 90,000 parolees were re-incarcerated as a result of parole violations or new arrests.

The Current State of California’s Parole System

California’s parole system has come under scrutiny in recent years as the state implements new changes to its prison system.  Several prisons are under threat of closure, state inmates have been shunted to county detention facilities and many county prisoners have been released to parole and probation supervision.  This has placed additional burdens upon a parole system that has had limited success in producing positive life changes in its parolees.

While the rest of the country has a 40 percent recidivism rate, California has a 66 percent rate.  This is in part a result of California’s mandatory parole system, which guarantees parole for days of good behavior. For most state prisoners, there is no appearance in front of a parole board.  Instead, prisoners are automatically released and placed on three years of probation.

Becoming a Parole Officer in California: Education Requirements and
Other Qualifications

Due to the many challenges involved in serving as a parole officer, the California DCR has instituted some very high standards for candidates to meet before they may join the department.

  • Bachelor’s degree; or an associate’s degree with two years of experience in law enforcement or corrections
  • 21 years old or older
  • U.S. citizenship or permanent resident alien status
  • At least one year of professional experience in
    • Parole or probation; or
    • Social casework or counseling; or
    • Clinical medical or psychiatric care
    • Ability to pass a background check
    • Ability to pass a physical fitness test with the following components
      • Bicycle endurance test
      • Grip strength
      • Abdomen and back strength
      • Upper body strength
      • Sprint bicycle test
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Candidates will also be asked to participate in a background investigation, interviews, the Peace Officer Psychological Evaluation, medical exams and drug tests.

California Parole Officer Training

If hired, new officers must complete a 10-week training program at the Parole Agent Academy. Within the three areas of instruction: Academic, Firearms, and Tactical Skills, there will be courses on

  • Arrest and control techniques
  • Chemical agents
  • Shotgun use
  • 9mm semi-automatic pistol training
  • Casework
  • Duties and responsibilities
  • Practical skill demonstrations

Following the first year of service, parole officers are required to receive 40 hours of additional training each year.

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