how can you find new professional challenges in probation? how to advance your probation career, multidisciplinary teams, bid-writing, risk management, working with offenders, short-term probation jobs

How to advance your probation career

By Liam Dale

​After a few years of working as a Probation Services Officer or a Probation Officer, you may start to wonder how you can advance your career and further challenge your abilities.

Can you use training to improve your probation skills?

Training is a good place to start if you are looking to advance your career. Unlike health and social care roles, there is no mandatory training that needs to take place as part of your continuing professional development. This means that you may need to be more creative about finding training opportunities that could help you advance your career.

You may wish to look at some social work training courses – the similarities between the two professions means that you may find some relevant crossovers. For example, exploring motivational interviewing techniques could be beneficial when working with offenders. If you are benefiting from reflective supervision practices, you could examine areas of weakness and implement strategies to improve your skills.

Can you benefit from working with external agencies?

A core part of the role may include working alongside other agencies as part of multidisciplinary teams. You may pick up new ways of working from others that you can implement in your own tasks. For example, perhaps you can find more effective ways of communication and identify ways to prevent unnecessary errors. You may also find new ways to share resources which could reduce duplication and increase productivity between all agencies.

Learning from others is a key way to improve your own working practices and become a stronger probation officer.

How can you find new professional challenges in probation?

As you progress into senior probation officer job roles, you may start to find that your work starts looking at the design and delivery of intervention programmes rather than working directly with offenders. You may start to find that you have an interest in helping junior colleagues to develop their own skills. Whether that’s through mentoring or the delivery of specific training programmes, you can start to branch out into new opportunities that could enhance your CV.

If you’re looking to take that first step into leadership positions, you may find that moving into youth offending teams or applied premises may give you greater scope and experience to find new professional challenges. At this stage of your career, you can start to develop new skills as you move away from frontline tasks working with offenders and focus on more commercial activities such as bid-writing or risk management.

Can you advance your career whilst working in agency probation jobs?

Working in short-term probation jobs can allow you to gain greater experience because you can experience different settings and help you to decide how to make the most of your skills.

We have written a series of blogs around navigating your probation career. There are also a number of useful resources on our careers hub.