Protecting public safety and offender rehabilitation are the two primary goals of a probation officer. In the Vancouver-Portland metropolitan area, there were 670 people working in the probation field as of May 2012, an occupation that is projected to grow by 18 percent nationwide through the year 2020. In Clark County as a whole, and in Vancouver in particular, probation officers play an important role in the community- holding offenders to strict compliance with their terms of probation, while at the same time helping them through the rehabilitative process.
Probation officers in Clark County have the advantage of working in the region’s main metropolitan area with some of the highest wages in the state. The national median income for those employed in the probation field in 2010 was $47,200. In the Vancouver-Portland metro area the average yearly wage in 2012 was $59,220.
Education and Other Requirements for a Career in Probation
Probation officers in Vancouver are employed by Clark County District Court, which mandates its probation officers to have at least a bachelor’s of arts or science in a field that offers preparation, education, and training dealing with complex legal issues and human experiences. Candidates who have majors in criminal justice, sociology, or psychology are preferred, while those with a bachelor’s degree in social work or any other field will be considered.
The candidate for a probation officer career in Clark County must also meet several other minimum requirements and be able to perform all job duties. These include:
- Ability to work legally in the United States
- Valid Washington State driver’s license
- Able to pass a drug test and criminal background check
- Counseling skills and interviewing techniques for offender evaluations and intakes
- Knowledge of alcohol treatment programs, mental health resources, and other community assistance options for probationer referral
Training and Application Process
Probation officers in Clark County will need to complete two weeks of training at the Adult Services Academy within their first six months of employment. If officers choose to carry firearms they will also need to complete 24 hours of a firearms certification course, and repeat a 16-hour course each year for re-certification. Officers are also required to accumulate 24 hours of annual in-service training after their first year of employment. Probation officers are trained in:
- Use of force and arrest procedures and techniques
- Probationer evaluation and risk assessment
- Washington State Code, district court jurisdiction, and court procedures
- Organizational structure for court reports, record keeping, and other probation files
Candidates interested in a job as a Vancouver-based probation officer can monitor Clark County’s employment website to see if there are any openings for the position. When a vacancy is posted, candidates can apply online by first registering with the County’s iRecruitment program and then completing an online application. Candidates need to have an email address to successfully register.