Becoming a PPO

Author: Dabney Weems

This week we celebrated the probation and parole officers (PPO) of North Carolina. We thanked them for their service to our communities and all they do to help keep us safe. These sworn law enforcement officers supervise offenders to ensure compliance with court orders, elevate offenders’ needs to successfully complete probation or parole, and counsel offenders regarding treatment. With so many job duties, do you know what it takes to become a PPO with the Department of Public Safety?

PPO Requirements and qualifications

PPOs must be U.S. citizens, have at least one year of criminal justice experience and have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, psychology, social work or another related human services field.

PPO application process

The application process to become a PPO in North Carolina is lengthy and can take up to 90 days. All applicants must apply online at Applications are reviewed by a human resources professional and those who meet the requirements have a background check performed. Applicants who pass the initial background check are interviewed; following a suitable interview, a more thorough background check is performed. From there, applicants must complete three online psychological surveys. Candidates with appropriate survey results receive a conditional offer of employment and are asked to complete a drug test, physical exam, meeting with a psychologist and an additional psychological survey. 

“Even though the process can take some time, due to the nature of our business, it is extremely important that Community Corrections performs due diligence in selecting the best applicant for the position,” said Assistant Director Theresa Starling. “Our goal is to attract the best applicants who have a passion to be a probation/parole officer, in addition to them having a satisfying and rewarding career.”

Passion for the law enforcement team

PPOs are part of a law enforcement team that protects the public by supervising offenders on probation, parole or post-release supervision. The officers are required to conduct surveillance and searches of property or even carry out warrants for arrest to complete their job. They work with sheriffs’ offices, police departments and other agencies to help keep communities safe.

Ability to change – flexibility

No two days or offenders are the same. A PPO must enjoy a workday that is ALWAYS changing. Days can include office work, meeting with offenders, conducting surveillance or even arresting offenders.

“One day I might be in the office working on caseloads or meeting with offenders,” explained Nikki Peters, a PPO II. “The next minute we could be called out to arrest someone. You never know what the day will bring.”

Need an even temperament

PPOs work with offenders on a daily basis. Some days they may not be compliant, or the PPO may have to deliver bad news to them. Officers must maintain an even temperament. 

“Offenders aren’t always going to be pleasant or respectful,” stated Peters. “You need to have a good temperament and not let them get to you during these times. But, there is a good balance because in this position, we are able to work closely with them and help them make a difference.”

Desire to make a difference

A PPO works closely with an offender to see that they stay compliant during their probation or parole. Officers individualize plans that could include assisting with finding housing, employment, substance abuse treatment, etc. It could include meeting with offenders at their homes to ensure they are fulfilling the requirements of their treatment plan and encouraging them as they complete their court orders.

“It is extremely rewarding seeing the offenders on my caseload succeed,” Peters said. “Sometimes there aren’t a lot of people in their corner cheering for them. I am very proud when they stand before a judge and can show how far they have come. At the end of the day, when I see an offender succeed, it solidifies my career decision.”

Being a PPO is a rewarding career that impacts the lives of others while ensuring the safety of the community. Join our team and find your Career That Matters at




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