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Career and Education Opportunities for Probation Officers in Charleston, West Virginia

For those living in the Charleston, West Virginia area, there are many career and education opportunities for probation officers. There are currently 260 working probation officers in West Virginia; this should grow by 18% to 310 working probation officers in the state by 2016. This is not quite as good as the national trend for probation officers, which sees this job pool growing by about 19.3% over the next eight years. Probation officers generally provide social services to assist in rehabilitation of law offenders in custody or on probation or parole.

Probation officers earn about $11 per hour or $24,500 per year on average in West Virginia and about $22 hourly or $45,910 per year on average nationally. Incomes for probation officers are not quite as good as in the overall category of Social Work and Community Services in West Virginia, and better than the overall Social Work and Community Services category nationally. Jobs in this field include: juvenile correctional officer, juvenile probation officer, and correctional counselor.

There are seventeen schools of higher education in the Charleston area, including one within twenty-five miles of Charleston where you can get a degree to start your career as a probation officer. Given that the most common education level for probation officers is a Bachelor's degree, it will take about four years to learn to be a probation officer if you already have a high school diploma.


In general, probation officers provide social services to assist in rehabilitation of law offenders in custody or on probation or parole. They also make recommendations for actions involving formulation of rehabilitation plan and treatment of offender, including conditional release and education and employment stipulations.

Probation officers consider with offenders how such issues as drug and alcohol abuse and anger management problems might have played roles in their criminal behavior. They also write reports describing offenders' progress. Equally important, probation officers have to manage medical or substance abuse treatment services in line with individual needs or court orders. Finally, probation officers ready and maintain case folders for each assigned inmate or offender.

Every day, probation officers are expected to be able to evaluate problems as they arise. They need to articulate ideas and problems. It is also important that they listen to and understand others in meetings.

It is important for probation officers to design rehabilitation programs for assigned offenders or inmates, establishing rules of conduct and objectives. They are often called upon to inform offenders or inmates of requirements of conditional release, such as office visits or educational and employment stipulations. They also gather data related to offenders' backgrounds by talking to offenders, their families and friends, and other people who have relevant data. They are sometimes expected to design liaisons and networks with other parole officers and aftercare agencies to develop for helping offenders with life adjustments. Somewhat less frequently, probation officers are also expected to conduct prehearing and presentencing investigations and testify in court regarding offenders' backgrounds and recommended sentences and sentencing conditions.

Probation officers sometimes are asked to assess the suitability of penitentiary inmates for release under parole and statutory release programs and submit recommendations to parole boards. They also have to be able to supervise people on community-based sentences, including people on electronically monitored home detention and manage postrelease services, such as employment and social activities. And finally, they sometimes have to investigate alleged parole violations, using interviews, surveillance, and search and seizure.

Like many other jobs, probation officers must be able to deal with stress and deal with situations calmly and have strong self control in the face of challenging situations.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Charleston include:

  • Child and Family Services Worker. Provide social services and assistance to improve the social and psychological functioning of children and their families and to maximize the family well-being and the academic functioning of children. May assist single parents, arrange adoptions, and find foster homes for abandoned or abused children. In schools, they address such problems as teenage pregnancy, misbehavior, and truancy. May also advise teachers on how to deal with problem children.


West Virginia State University - Institute, WV

West Virginia State University, Rte 25, Institute, WV 25112-1000. West Virginia State University is a small university located in Institute, West Virginia. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 3,347 students and an admission rate of 57%. West Virginia State University has a bachelor's degree program in Social Work which graduated twenty students in 2008.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Charleston, West Virginia

Charleston, West Virginia
Charleston, West Virginia photo by Malepheasant

Charleston is situated in Kanawha County, West Virginia. It has a population of over 50,302, which has shrunk by 5.8% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Charleston, 84, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Charleston are priced at $268,400 on average, which is far greater than the state average. In 2008, thirty-four new homes were constructed in Charleston, up from twenty-seven the previous year.

The three most popular industries for women in Charleston are health care, educational services, and public administration. For men, it is professional, scientific, and technical services, health care, and public administration. The average travel time to work is about 16 minutes. More than 32.6% of Charleston residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 15.0%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Charleston is 7.7%, which is the same as West Virginia's average of 7.7%. About 16.7% of Charleston's residents are below the poverty line, which is better than the state average.

The percentage of Charleston residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 34.5%, is less than both the national and state average. Starcher Baptist Church, Southeast Church of the Nazarene and South Ruffner Presbyterian Church are among the churches located in Charleston. The largest religious groups are the American Baptist Churches in the USA, the United Methodist Church and the Catholic Church.

Charleston is home to the John F Kennedy Center and the Kanawha County Courthouse as well as Watt Powell Stadium and Ruffner Memorial Park. Shopping centers in the area include Patrick Street Plaza Shopping Center, Laidley Court Shopping Center and Plaza East Shopping Center. Visitors to Charleston can choose from Days Inn Charleston East WV, Motel 6 and Fairfield Inn Charleston for temporary stays in the area.