Probation officer jobs are no walk in the park, that’s for sure. You will often find yourself in very stressful, aggravating situations. In this article, we will analyze three main key skills needed to be a probation officer. This will help give context to why these skills are needed, and hopefully help you understand whether you are suitable for such a role. If this sort of role does interest you, I implore you to look at it in more detail and find further information in terms of official qualifications needed and specific career paths that can be sought after.
Firstly, and possibly most importantly, is the ability to cope with stressful situations. As a probation officer you can be dealing with people who feel wronged, who are aggressive, who don’t want to be there etc. You need to know how to react to these situations, in such a way that you don’t inflame them any further. Part of coping with stressful situations is also knowing when to leave your job at the workplace. In other words, it’s key you don’t carry those stressful moments into your home. As you need to be adequately looking after your own wellbeing if you expect to excel at helping others improving their own wellbeing.
Assertiveness and knowing when to be so, is key to any probation officer. This is very different from being authoritative. As it is important when dealing with offenders that they don’t see you in the same role as those that have meant to have authoritative positions (prison guards, judges etc.). Instead your behavior needs to be confident, and forceful in the sense of showing conviction with the advice you’re giving, or setting out instructions that must be followed. It is a delicate but vital tightrope to tread, where you’re not too lenient or strict.
Finally, integrity is vital for any successful probation officer. As you are in many ways a role model to offenders, and need to show how rules are followed. This type of integrity goes beyond the office too, as being a key part of the criminal justice system, it is important for you yourself to uphold the law in all areas of life.
Of course, this doesn’t cover all the skills that are needed but starts to paint a picture of the foundation of what is needed for a probation officer to excel in their job.