Probation and Parole Officer Career in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania

The most populous county in Pennsylvania is Philadelphia County with an estimated 1,547,000 residents.  The Adult Probation and Parole Department, an agency under the First Judicial District Court of Common Pleas, is the primary community corrections agency within the county.  The APPD supervises almost 49,000 probationers and misdemeanor parolees, while the state’s Office of Probation and Parole Service supervises felony parolees. The Adult Probation and Parole Department currently has a staff of almost 400 employees with 276 probation and parole officers (PPO).  The average caseload was 121 cases, but PPOs could manage between 23 and 383 cases.

The Philadelphia APPD recently restructured their supervision approach to incorporate a research-based methodology which begins with assessing risk.  The APPD has begun an experimental technique which utilizes cognitive behavior therapy to help limit risks with high risk offenders.  This agency is also tasked with managing the Weapons Related Injury Surveillance System, which collects data related to gunshot injuries in Philadelphia.

There are several units within the APPD that provide specialized supervision of offenders. The Alcohol Highway Safe Driving Unit manages the DUI Treatment Court and almost 2,200 offenders.  Almost one hundred of these DUI offenders are monitored with electronic devices.  The Center for Adult Education is a partnership with the Center for Literacy, which helped almost 1,022 offenders in 2008 achieve many educational goals form basic literacy up to a GED.   The Drug Detection Center conducted 61,213 urinalysis and eye scans to determine if offenders were sober.  The Fraud Unit oversees almost 5,550 offenders and is collaborative effort with the District Attorney, Department of Public Welfare and the Insurance Companies and Unemployment Compensation.

How to Become a Probation and Parole Officer in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania

The minimum educational requirement for a probation and parole officer in Philadelphia County is two years of experience as a parole or probation officer plus an associate’s degree in one of the following fields.

  • Social work
  • Sociology
  • Law enforcement
  • Criminal justice
  • Legal studies
  • Psychology

Applicants with a bachelor’s degree in one of these fields may also qualify for a PPO position.  The starting salary for these jobs is $41,457 with a raise to $47,320 after six months, so the competition for these jobs can be quite serious.  Prospective PPOs should strongly consider adding to their academic credentials by obtaining a master’s, doctor’s or JD degree.  Prior experience in this field is preferred, and may be obtained through internships or volunteer work.  Many agencies also offer trainee programs.

Upon hiring, new officers must attend the Basic Training Academy and receive certification from the County Probation and Parole Officers’ Firearms Education and Training Commission.  The Basic Firearms Training Course is a 31 hour, four day course that requires officers to re-qualify annually.  Officers must also complete 40 hours of additional training each year following the first year.

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