Probation officers in Travis County form an elite team of innovative thinkers that have revamped the probation system, not just locally but nationally. In 2005, the state government asked county probation departments to suggest changes that would help to quell prison overcrowding. In response, Travis County proposed an “evidence-based” model of probation that called for stronger enforcement of probation conditions and greater attention to offender rehabilitation. The model, termed “Travis Community Impact Community Supervision,” resulted in such success that probation departments across the country continue to emulate its structure.
In 2012, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (USBLS) found there to be 6,320 probation officer correctional rehabilitation specialist jobs throughout Texas. The Austin-Rock Round-San Marcos metropolitan area employed 710 of these professionals. Most probation officers in the county work in association with the Adult Probation Department. The department consists of a Central Unit, Mental Health Unit, North Unit, SMART Unit and South Unit located in areas of Austin and Del Valle.
Requirements for Entry-Level Positions
Entry-level probation officers must adhere to state educational requirements. Therefore, one of the first steps towards a career as a probation officer in Travis County, Texas is to earn a bachelor’s degree from a college or university recognized by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Applicants with degrees in social work, psychology, criminal justice or related fields are often in the best position to land probation officer jobs in Travis County.
Requirements for Directorial Positions
Many entry-level probation officers aspire to advance their careers by qualifying for more prominent positions that entail greater responsibility and higher salaries. These positions are usually of a supervisory or directorial nature that necessitates additional education and experience. For example, the Travis County Human Resources’ minimum requirements for an Adult Probation Director include:
- Experience/education analogous to a year of full-time casework, community or counseling work
- Six years of upper-level management experience pertaining to parole or probation services
- Master’s degree in a job-related field such as the behavioral sciences, social sciences, business administration or public administration
Probation Officer Training Guidelines
The Texas Community Justice Assistance Division (CJAD) prefers all professionals that work for community supervision departments in the state have at least four years of experience prior to becoming probation officers. Those that lack previous experience must learn how to become a probation officer in Travis County through CJAD mandated ongoing training. Standard probation officers must complete at least eighty hours of training every two years. More experienced staff members, such as probation directors and supervisors, are only required to complete forty hours of training every two years.