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How to become a United States Probation Officer

Western District of Pennsylvania

What are the qualifications to become a US Probation Officer?

How does recruitment work?

How long is the hiring process?

Where is the closest recruitment office?

Where will I be assigned to work?

What is the starting pay and available benefits?

What kind of training is involved?

What are the major job duties?

Are there any other qualifications?

How can I contact someone directly?

What are the qualifications to become a U.S. Probation Officer?
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or eligible to work in the United States
  • Must be between the ages of 21 and 36 (must be appointed before 37th birthday)
  • Must have a bachelor’s degree and at least one year of experience
  • Must have a valid driver’s license in good standing
  • Must successfully complete a structured interview and other assessments
  • Must successfully complete a background investigation
  • Must meet medical qualifications
  • Must undergo a rigorous six week basic training program at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Charleston, South Carolina
How does recruitment work?
  • Applications for USPO Positions are ONLY accepted during posted announcement open periods.
  • Hiring campaigns cannot be predicted, as they are dependent on a variety of factors such as retirements, departures, and funding.
  • Information about hiring and recruitment will be posted on our website.
How long is the hiring process?
  • The hiring process may vary dependent upon length of time for medical review.
Where is the closest recruitment office?
  • We have three locations: Pittsburgh, Erie, Johnstown.
Where will I be assigned to work?
  • Incumbents will be assigned to the office designated in any specific job posting.
What is the starting pay and available benefits?
  • USPO starting salary is CL25-CL28 with a target grade of CL28. Actual salary is dependent upon education and experience and pay table will vary based on locality. Must be in current CL for one year to be eligible for promotion to the next level.


  • New USPOs are covered under Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) which includes a 3-tier system:
    1. Pension Plan
    2. Social Security
    3. Thrift Savings Plan (a tax-deferred plan similar to a 401K plan in private industry)
  • USPOs are eligible for retirement after 25 years of service or at 50 years old, with 20 years of service. The mandatory retirement age is 57.
  • Military experience may increase years for retirement, but cannot be substituted for 20 years of law enforcement experience.


  • Annual Leave: The amount of annual leave earned is based on the number of years of Federal Service:
    Years of Federal Service Hours Earned per Pay Period Hours Earned per Year
    Less than 3 years 4 hours 104 hours
    3-15 years 6 hours 160 hours
    More than 15 years 8 hours 208 hours
    Note: Most military time is creditable toward leave accrual; therefore, a majority of the military will be in the 6-hour leave category.
  • Sick Leave: All employees earn 4 hours of sick leave per pay period regardless of the number of years of federal service.
  • Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA): The FMLA allows “eligible” employees to take leave for up to 12 work weeks in any 12 month period for the birth or adoption of a child, to care for a family member, or if the employee themselves has a serious health condition. To be eligible, an employee must have completed at least 12 months of federal civilian services (not required to be recent or consecutive).
  • Health Benefits:
    • Health benefits are optional
    • There is a large variety of health care plans to choose from
    • The cost of health insurance is shared by the employee and the government
  • Life Insurance:
    • Automatic enrollment in the Federal Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) plan with Basic Life only
    • Cost is shared by the employee and the government
    • Employee may waive coverage
    • Employee must be enrolled in Basic Life to elect the Optional Coverage:
      • Option A - Standard: additional $10,000; employee pays full cost of insurance.
      • Option B - Additional: election of an amount to 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 times employees’ annual basic pay; employee pays the full cost of this insurance.
      • Option C - Family: covers eligible family members; employee pays the full cost of this insurance.
  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP):
    • EAP is a confidential, voluntary program designed to help employees and their family members resolve problems that may occur on or off the job.
    • Help may be provided for personal issues, family/close relationship issues, and work issues.
What kind of training is involved?
Some of the subjects covered during training at the training academy include:
  • Legal Training
  • Defensive Tactics
  • Driver Training
  • Courtroom Evidence & Procedure
  • Officer Survival
  • Search and Seizure
  • K-9 Threats
  • Firearms Training
  • Physical Conditioning
  • Clandestine/Controlled Sub. Lab
  • Computer Training
  • Investigative Tools
  • Human Trafficking
  • Gang Awareness
  • Domestic Violence

Where is the training academy located?

  • Charleston, SC
What are the major job duties?
  • Conduct investigations and prepare reports for the court with recommendations, which requires interviewing offenders/defendants and their families, as well as collecting background data from various sources. An integral part of the process is the interpretation and application of policies and procedures, statutes, Federal Rules and Criminal Procedures, as well as U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, Monographs, and relevant case law. Track legal developments, and update staff and the court.
  • Analyze and respond to any objections. This may include resolving disputed issues and presenting unresolved issues to the court for resolution. Assess offenders’/defendants’ levels of risk and develop a blend of strategies for controlling and managing risk.
  • Enforce court-ordered supervision components and implement supervision strategies. Maintain personal contact with defendants and offenders. Investigate employment, sources of income, lifestyle, and associates to assess risk and compliance. Address substance abuse, mental health, domestic violence, and similar problems and implement the necessary treatment or violation proceedings, through assessment, monitoring and counseling.
  • Schedule and conduct drug use detection tests and DNA collection of offenders /defendants, following established procedures and protocols. Maintain paper and computerized records of test results. Maintain chain of custody of urinalysis testing materials. Respond to judicial officer’s request for information and advice. Testify in court as to the basis for factual findings and (if warranted) guideline applications. Serve as a resource to the court. Maintain detailed written records of case activity. May conduct surveillance and/or search and seizure at the direction of the court as required.
  • Investigate and analyze financial documents and activities and take appropriate action. Interview victim(s) and provide victim impact statements to the court. Ensure compliance with Mandatory Victims Restitution Act. Responsible for enforcement of home confinement conditions ordered by the court, as required.
  • Communicate with other organizations and persons (such as the U.S. Parole Commission, Bureau of Prisons, law enforcement, treatment agencies, and attorneys) concerning offenders’/defendants’ behaviors and conditions of supervision. Identify and investigate violations and implement appropriate alternatives and sanctions. Report violations of the conditions of supervision to the appropriate authorities. Prepare written reports of violation matters and make recommendations for disposition. May be required to testify at court or parole hearings. Conduct Parole Commission preliminary interviews as assigned. Knowledge of and compliance with the Code of Conduct for Judicial Employees and court confidentiality requirements. Ability to consistently demonstrate sound ethics and judgment.
Are there any other qualifications?
  • Completion of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, with an overall “B” grade point average equaling 2.90 or better of a possible 4.0 in a field of academic study, such as criminal justice, criminology, psychology, sociology, human relations, business or public administration, which provides evidence of the capacity to understand and apply the legal requirements and human relations skills involved in the position.
  • To qualify for a starting salary in CL 25 the incumbent must have one year of specialized experience equivalent to work at the CL-23.
  • To qualify for a starting salary in CL 26 the incumbent must have a Bachelor's degree in a related field and two years of specialized experience including one year equivalent to work at the CL 25 level.
  • To qualify for a starting salary in CL 27 the incumbent must have a Master's degree in a related field and two years of specialized experience including one year equivalent to work at the CL 25 level
  • To qualify for a starting salary in the CL-28 the incumbent must have two years of specialized experience, including at least one year equivalent to work at the CL-27.
  • General experience is progressively responsible experience in such fields as investigation, counseling, and guidance of offenders in community corrections or pretrial programs or in closely allied fields such as an education guidance counselor, social worker, caseworker, or psychologist.
  • Specialized Experience is progressively responsible experience gained after completion of a bachelor’s degree in such fields as probation, pretrial services, parole, corrections, criminal investigations, or work in substance/addiction treatment. Experience as a police, custodial, or security officer, other than any criminal investigative experience, is not creditable.
How can I contact someone directly?
  • Click here to send an email to our dedicated HR mailbox.