Illinois distributes probation responsibilities to the 22 district courts in the state, with the Division of Probation Services, which is administered by the Supreme Court of Illinois, providing uniform standards throughout the state. In 2010, there were 1,600 probation officer jobs in Illinois paying an average salary of $54,470. These officers supervise almost 100,000 offenders per year.
Becoming an Illinois Probation Officer
In order to become a probation officer in Illinois, candidates should meet the following minimum requirements:
- U.S. citizenship
- 21 years of age or older
- Valid driver’s license
- Bachelor’s degree
The most competitive candidates have at least a bachelor’s degree in social work, criminal justice, psychology or a related subject, and many applicants also possess advanced degrees including Master of Social Work or MBA. Many successful candidates also possess prior work experience in corrections, clinical psychology or social work.
Applicants should also possess the following competencies:
- Investigative skills
- Ability to testify in a courtroom setting
- Superior management skills
- Outstanding written and verbal communication
- Information systems operations
Applications should be submitted to the district court of choice along with supporting documents like college transcripts and resumes.
Training to Become a Probation Officer in Illinois
The Basic Adult Probation Officer Training is conducted at the University of Illinois, Springfield. It is a 40-hour program that includes instruction in
- Adult assessment
- Differential supervision
- Interviewing skills
- Substance abuse
- Enhancing Motivation
- Case presentations
- Case planning
- Evidence basic practices
The Administrative Offices of the Illinois Courts also offers a Sex Offender Officer Training program which is available to officers assigned to sexual offender supervision and which includes topics on
- Court cases involving polygraphs
- Containment approaches for managing sex offenders
- Sexual treatments
Following the first year, probation officers are required to complete at least 20 hours of additional training each following year.
The State of the Illinois Division of Probation Services
Since the recession the funding for probation services has dwindled from $62 million to $47 million, but new pressure from the Illinois Supreme Court has forced Governor Pat Quinn to double the 2012 budget to $94 million for 2013. This is expected to lead to a new hiring push for more probation officers and provide new incentives for more qualified applicants.
As of December 31, 2010, there were 49,208 felony probation cases, 19,927 misdemeanor probation cases, and 17 DUI probation cases. In addition to these categories, Illinois Division of Probation Services also administrates the:
- Intensive Probation Supervision Program—Monitors high risk offenders through office visits, surveillance. After a year of IPS without violations, offenders are placed on regular supervision
- Specialized DUI Program—A team of nine probation officers monitor and supervise high risk repeat offenders and utilize treatment resources to limit recidivism
- Electronic Monitoring and Drug Testing Programs
- Pretrial Services Program—Interviews and investigations are performed to determine bond and release conditions
- Public Service and Restitution Programs
- Specialized Sex Offender Supervision Program—Close monitoring of all activities is utilized to ensure that offenders are complying with laws and court directives
- Specialized Domestic Violence Supervision Program—Surveillance and after hours visits are used to ensure safety of victims
- Specialized Drug Offender Supervision Program