Probation Officer Āpiha Matakana

Probation officers supervise offenders serving a sentence in the community. They also help ex-prisoners return to society.

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Probation officers may do some or all of the following:

  • talk to offenders, their families and others about the offender's background
  • prepare reports for court cases 
  • prepare reports on prisoners who are being considered for parole
  • make recommendations about appropriate programmes and treatment
  • manage parole and community service work
  • supervise people in home and community detention
  • motivate offenders to make changes in their behaviour
  • work with community agencies to get services, such as housing, for offenders
  • refer offenders to suitable treatment or counselling agencies
  • write reports about the progress of offenders.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for probation officers includes:

  • work as a corrections officer
  • community work
  • social work
  • coaching experience.

Personal Qualities

Probation officers need to be:

  • good communicators
  • able to relate to people from a range of cultures and backgrounds
  • mature, honest and confident
  • good at analysis and problem solving
  • able to remain positive in difficult situations
  • alert and observant
  • able to work well under pressure.


Probation officers need to have:

  • knowledge of offender management
  • good relationship management skills
  • good report-writing skills.


Probation officers:

  • usually work regular business hours but may also need to work Saturdays, and are sometimes on call
  • work in community probation and psychological services offices, prisons and courts
  • may visit offenders in their homes.

Subject Recommendations

There are no specific secondary education requirements to become a probation officer, but NCEA Level 3 is preferred. Useful subjects include languages, social studies and te reo Māori.

Probation Officers can earn around $54K-$60K per year.

Pay for probation officers varies depending on their experience and level of responsibility.

  • Probation officers usually earn between $54,000 and $60,000 a year.
  • Senior probation officers and/or practice leaders usually earn between $60,000 and $69,000.

Probation officers in Auckland, Waitematā, Manukau, Hamilton and Wellington also receive an annual recruitment and retention allowance of between $1,000 and $2,500 a year.

Source: Department of Corrections, 2018.

Probation officers may progress to work as senior probation officers, who are responsible for mentoring and coaching new staff.

They may also move into jobs in management or policy at the Department of Corrections or the Ministry of Justice.

Years Of Training

<1 year of training usually required.

To become a probation officer you need to:

  • pass a check that proves you have not been in prison
  • pass a police vetting check
  • have a full driver's licence
  • pass a pre-employment drug test.

A tertiary qualification, such as a degree, in a subject such as psychology, criminology, sociology or social work is preferred but not essential.

The Department of Corrections provides training for new probation officers, which includes workplace and classroom learning. Training takes six months.

The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 means that if you have certain serious convictions, you can’t be employed in a role where you are responsible for, or work alone with, children.

Probation Officer