Probation officer

Probation officers supervise people serving community and prison sentences and help them to stay away from crime.

Average salary (a year)

£22,000 Starter


£40,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

36 to 38 a week

You could work

evenings / weekends occasionally

How to become a Probation officer

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role


You'll need the Professional Qualification in Probation to do this job. You can study for a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree before you apply for the Professional Qualification in Probation training programme.

A course in criminology, sociology or psychology may be helpful though most subjects are acceptable.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • at least 1 A level for a foundation degree 
  • 1 or 2 A levels for a higher national diploma
  • 2 to 3 A levels for a degree

More information


You could start with an advanced apprenticeship in youth work. You could then progress to a higher apprenticeship or apply for work as a probation services officer.

Once you've got the right qualifications and experience, you can apply for the Professional Qualification in Probation training route while you work as a probation services officer. After you complete your training you can apply for probation officer jobs.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), usually including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship

More information


You could start as a probation services officer and then:

  • take the Level 3 Diploma in Probation Practice and further on-the-job training
  • get relevant experience
  • apply to join the Professional Qualification in Probation training programme

More information

Career tips

You'll be expected to have paid or voluntary experience of working with vulnerable people or people with challenging behaviour.

It will also help if you have some knowledge of how the criminal justice and rehabilitation systems work.

Professional and industry bodies

You can join the Probation Institute while you are training or after you qualify.

Further information

HM Prison and Probation Service has more information on training to become a probation officer.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • knowledge of psychology
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • the ability to work on your own
  • customer service skills
  • counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
  • being able to use a computer terminal or hand-held device may be beneficial for this job.

Restrictions and requirements

You'll need to:

  • be a British or Commonwealth citizen, a European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) citizen, or a foreign national with the right to stay and work in the UK for an indefinite period
  • pass enhanced background checks, as you may be working with children and vulnerable adults

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

In this role you could be:

  • interviewing offenders before sentencing or parole
  • making sure offenders attend supervision appointments and take part in group programmes
  • running group programmes to change offenders' behaviour
  • assessing risks and writing reports to help prisons and parole review boards decide about early release
  • working with victims of violent or sexual crime when prisoners are being considered for parole
  • working with prisoners about to be released

Working environment

You could work in a prison, in a court, in an office or in the community.

Your working environment may be emotionally demanding.

Career path and progression

With experience you could become a senior probation officer.

With further training you could specialise in working with particular groups, like high-risk or sexual offenders.

Further promotion usually means moving into management and away from working with offenders. You could become an area manager or chief executive.

Training opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Apprentice Youth Worker

  • Wage : £140.00 Weekly
  • Location: Bradford BD4 8PL

Courses In England

Extended Diploma in Public Services (QCF) (Ambulance, Police, Fire, Prison, Customs, Armed Forces, Public Services)

  • Provider: Barking & Dagenham College
  • Start date: 04 September 2019
  • Location: Romford

Public Services - Diploma In Public Services (Qcf)

  • Start date: 02 September 2019
  • Location: Turnford

Get help using this service

Call 0800 100 900

8am to 10pm, 7 days a week

More ways to contact us

Is this page useful?

Yes No