Those interested in the field of community service and law enforcement could find personal and professional satisfaction by cultivating a probation and parole officer career in South Carolina. Here these professionals serve in a dual-role capacity, providing both probation services to offenders who have committed misdemeanors, as well as parole services for convicts being allowed conditional release from prison with oversight.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics expects job opportunities for this occupation to grow by 18% from 2010 to 2020. This job growth rate is 4% higher than the national average growth rate for all other occupations combined. Increased job opportunities in the coming decade may be attributed to governmental budget spending, lenient sentencing capabilities, prison overcrowding and the need to replace retired workers.
The 2012 Annual Statistical Report published by the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services indicate there were 14,747 individuals admitted into the state’s probation program last year, bringing the total number of probationers to 28,660. In 2012, the average length of probation was twenty-three months, while the maximum probationary period in South Carolina is five years.
Probation and Parole Officer Education and Training in South Carolina
Bachelor’s Option – In order to qualify for South Carolina probation and parole officer jobs, several education and training requirements must be met. For instance, state guideline mandate that all probation and parole officers possess at least a four-year degree from a formally accredited college or university. Degrees in criminal justice, law enforcement, social work, psychology and similar disciplines are highly relevant to this field.
Master’s Option – Would-be probation and parole officers lacking substantial work experience are encouraged to earn a master’s degree to supplement this deficiency.
Mandatory Training for Qualified Candidates – The South Carolina Probation, Parole and Pardon Services Department also requires that qualified candidates learn how to become probation officers by completing the Basic Law Enforcement Training Program to be taken at the Criminal Justice Academy in Columbia. New hires then become Class-One certified and undergo on-the-job training activities.
Special Criteria for Probation Officers in South Carolina
Since probation officers work in close proximity to individuals convicted of a crime(s) they are often subject to unique employment standards. For instance, in South Carolina, potential probation officers are disqualified for employment if they have been convicted of domestic violence. This condition encompasses all misdemeanor incidents and restraining orders relating to domestic violence allegations as well. Additional state requirements include:
- Criminal Background Check/Fingerprint
- Fair Credit Reporting Act Authorization
- Illegal Drug Screening
- Physical Examination
- Psychological Assessment
Training and Professional Development
South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services offers probation officer programs to employees that instruct in basic agent training, in-service training, core training and professional development, all of which are accessible through the Training Compliance and Professional Development division of the department. Examples of probation officer training exercises include:
- Firearms training
- Arrest scenario training
- Defensive driving training
- Safety training
- Pressure point control tactics
- Prisoner transport