Median Salary: $72,946
Change in salary (2007–2013): +12%
Total employees: 7,200
It’s a tough job, to be sure, but being a probation or parole officer also involves lots of interpersonal work and being active in your local community. While a thick skin might come in handy, Abbotsford, B.C. parole officer Tara Tomasi says the real key skill to her job is communication.
How to qualify: Probation and parole officers require a university degree (as opposed to a college diploma). Tomasi’s undergraduate studies led her to a B.A. in criminology. Parole officers work with federal offenders, while probation officers work with offenders at the provincial level. One interesting aspect of parole work, specifically, is that special training is required in order to work with female offenders (the training occurs after you’re employed in the field). Tomasi says Correctional Services Canada also offers yearly training programs for parole officers to update their skills in certain areas, such as supervising Aboriginal offenders, or working with dangerous offenders.
Money: According to the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, parole officers start out making around $61,600 per year. As they accumulate seniority, their salary tops out at around $81,600. Probation officers are paid according to the province in which they work.
Outlook: Parole and probation officers share the same government job classification as psychologists, counsellors, clergy and social workers. The prospects for these jobs, according to Employment and Social Development Canada, are good. There are expected to be more postings than job seekers into 2020.
What it’s Like: There are opportunities to work in both institutions and offices as a parole officer for Correctional Services Canada. Currently stationed at a parole office, Tomasi’s days and weeks are a mix of desk work and being out in the community. She’s responsible for filing a lot of reports to the Parole Board of Canada, but otherwise she is out of the office making visits to offenders at their schools, homes, and workplaces. She works in a team on occasions, but also on her own. While the work can be hard, Tomasi has a very positive outlook on her job. “I love what I do,” she says. “I feel blessed, I feel grateful, and I look forward to the challenges every day.”