The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, Office of Probation and Correctional Alternatives (OPCA) was responsible for managing 35,233 probationers statewide in 2011, a decrease from 36,098 in 2010 and 37,031 in 2009. The OPCA also provides general supervision for the 57 county probation agencies and administers funding for approved municipal probation services throughout the state.
Probation officers are hired and trained through OPCA. As such, OPCA establishes and maintains the qualification and training standards for probation officer trainees.
Education and Experience Requirements for Probation Officer Jobs in New York
In New York, probation officer jobs are considered civil service positions that require candidates to pass the NYS Probation Officer Trainee Civil Service Exam before beginning their careers. In order to sit for the civil service exam, probation officer job candidates must meet OPCA’s minimum educational requirements:
- A bachelor’s degree with two years of experience in casework or counseling
- A graduate degree in one of the social sciences
Basic OPCA Probation Officer Training Requirements
New probation officer recruits should expect to complete a rigorous training program through the OPCA as part of the standard process for becoming a probation officer in New York. Within the first six months of securing a job as a probation officer, candidates must complete a two-week program entitled Fundamentals of Probation Practice (FPP). Because probation officers in New York are considered peace officers, they must also complete a week-long basic police officer training program upon being hired.
Once hired, probation officers must complete at least 21 hours of approved continuing education within 12 months of being hired and then annually thereafter.
Specialized Training Opportunities
The OPCA offers a host of training opportunities for individuals interested in learning how to become probation officers in specialized capacities:
Fundamentals of Community Corrections (FCC) Training
Probation officers working in Alternative to Incarceration (ATI) programs can receive specialized training. This 28-hour training program (the first of its kind), which was developed by the OPCA and the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) and accredited by the American Probation and Parole Association and endorsed by the International Community Corrections Association, is designed to provide probation officer professionals with the tools needed to assist offenders in changing past behaviors and leading law-abiding lives.
Violence against Women Act (VAWA) Project
The OPCA, along with the New York State Coalition against Domestic Violence and the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, provides targeted probation officer training in response to domestic violence.
Probation Officer Safety and Survival Training (OSST)
Developed by OPCA, the NYS Probation Officers Association, the NYS Division of Parole and the NYS Council of Probation Administrators, is a three-day program designed for probation officers who want to attain additional training and skills in the following areas:
- Mental and physical conditioning
- Planning and preparation for field safety
- Critical incidents
- Tactics for field safety
- Department safety
Other specialized training programs made available to probation officers in New York through the OPCA include:
- Motivational Interviewing
- Executive Leadership
- Interstate Compact Training