Guide Trial Court Probation Officer Examination Information

This guide includes information about the Probation Officer position and the Probation Officer entrance exam. Below you will find information about the exam process, schedule, and registration. In compliance with state law, to be eligible for Probation Officer positions, candidates must pass the Probation Officer exam.

Table of Contents

Registration & examination overview

Registration
  • Opening Registration Date: June 25, 2019
  • Last Day of Registration: August 31, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. 

Note: A study guide will be provided to all confirmed exam registrants at the time of registration at no additional cost.

Examination
  • Examination Date: October 26, 2019* Doors open at 8:30. Exam begins promptly at 9:30
  • Examination Location: Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC), 415 Summer Street, Boston, MA 02210

Individuals who took and passed the Probation Officer Entrance Exam in July 2014 MUST take this exam to remain eligible to be considered for Probation Officer positions. The exam is graded on a pass/fail basis.

Individuals who took and passed the Probation Officer Entrance Exam in April 2017 do not have to take this exam to remain eligible to be considered for Probation Officer positions.

*Depending on the number of candidates registering for the exam, the Trial Court reserves the right to offer the exam on additional dates and/or at alternative locations if necessary. Registrants will be notified by email if this occurs.

Fees

Examination Fee: $100

Exam description

State law requires the passing of this exam to be eligible to apply for Probation Officer positions. Individuals who do not take and pass this examination will be ineligible for probation officer positions until another probation officer examination is offered in the future.

Passing the Probation Officer Examination alone does not guarantee that candidates will receive an interview. Persons who apply to a Probation Officer job posting after passing this examination must also meet the minimum requirements for this job in order to be considered for appointment. Exam registrants should also be aware that due to the anticipated large volume of qualified candidates, job applicants selected for an interview typically exceed the minimum requirements.

Please review the examples of essential duties and the related minimum requirements for this position before registering for this Probation Officer Examination.

Probation Officer job description

Examples of essential duties

A Probation Officer works with offenders/litigants in a variety of case types: criminal, delinquent, civil, guardianships, and family-related matters such as divorce, and child custody/visitation. Probation Officers use a skill set that enables them to develop a positive and collaborative working relationship with probationers/litigants in assisting them to change their behaviors, and negotiate contested family matters.

A Probation Officer thoroughly investigates offender personal history, background and environment, reports findings to the court, and is prepared to make appropriate recommendations on dispositions. A Probation Officer utilizes a variety of tools to complete initial and on-going assessments of offenders placed under supervision, refers probationers to social resources in the community for assistance in rehabilitation, enforces court orders; and makes appropriate recommendations throughout violation of probation proceedings and modification of court orders.

A Probation Officer performs community supervision during or after hours as necessary, including visiting the homes of probationers and their places of employment to ensure compliance with the terms of probation, visiting with victims to collect information and to keep them informed, and visiting police departments, schools or custodial settings depending on the type of case supervised. A Probation Officer also enrolls offenders/litigants to Electronic Monitoring, including installation of equipment, in accordance with court orders; administers alcohol breath testing; and conducts substance use testing, in accordance with Trial Court Substance Use Protocols. The conducting of substance use testing includes both observation of the collection of the specimen as well as the reading and interpreting of the test results. A Probation Officer also utilizes a variety of computer based software/programs to maintain accurate case notes, chronological listing of information, and contact with probationers/litigants.

Working conditions

Probation Officers work in courthouses, other court facilities, in the field, and may be alone at times with probationers; may work varied shifts; interact with people who are under physical and/or emotional stress; must stand and walk for prolonged periods of time; and must be able to regularly travel within the Commonwealth for training and for job-related purposes. Job related travel includes traveling to probationers’ homes to visually inspect the home for drugs, contraband, weapons, and other items that may violate terms of probation. Probation Officers must be able to verify the identity of probationers and testify in court proceedings about their first-hand observations, including their observations during home visits.

Minimum requirements

In addition to passing the examination, individuals must apply to a Trial Court job posting at Jobs with the Court System when posted (after the exam) and satisfy the following minimum requirements in order to be considered for appointment as a Probation Officer:

A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university is required; a concentration in human services, behavioral sciences, or criminal justice is preferred. Additionally, a minimum of 2 years of work experience in human services, criminal justice, or 2 years working as an Associate Probation Officer.

Please Note: A graduate degree in the behavioral sciences, education, administration, management, law or criminal justice may be substituted for the above experience, if the candidate also possesses a bachelor’s degree in accordance with the education requirement.

Passing the Probation Officer Examination alone does not guarantee that a candidate will receive an interview. Persons who apply to a Probation Officer job posting after passing this examination must also meet the minimum requirements for this job in order to be considered for appointment. Job applicants should be aware that due to the anticipated large volume of highly qualified applicants, candidates selected for an interview typically exceed the minimum requirements.

Employment as a Probation Officer is contingent upon passage of a criminal background check and completion of orientation training.

Key Actions for Probation Officer job description

Other requirements after passing the exam & prior to an appointment

  • Massachusetts Residency Requirement - Pursuant to Chapter 478, sec. 328 of the Acts of 1978, no person who is not a resident of the Commonwealth shall serve as an officer in or an employee of the Judicial Branch; provided, however, that this provision shall not apply to those persons serving as officers in or employees of the Judicial Branch prior to the effective date of Chapter 478, sec. 328.
  • Training - Candidates must satisfactorily complete the Probation Officer Orientation training and are subject to a probationary period.
  • Criminal Background Check - Interviewed candidates selected for appointment will be required to complete the Consent to Criminal Record Check Form. Trial Court Policy (Section 4.100) may prohibit the employment of individuals with a misdemeanor conviction resulting in incarceration if the end date of such incarceration is within the five-year period immediately preceding the date of application of employment or a felony conviction. A CORI check involving other offenses will not automatically disqualify the final candidate(s). Determinations of suitability based on CORI checks will be made consistent with this policy and any applicable law or regulations.
  • Employment Eligibility and Verification Form (I-9) - Pursuant to the provisions of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, after an offer of employment is made, selected candidates for appointment are required to complete an Employment Eligibility Verification Form (I-9) and submit specific

Examination details

Registration: All registrations must be received by the posted deadlines, and accompanied by an examination-processing fee. You will receive a confirmation email when you have completed the process. Your registration is not complete until you have received a confirmation email. All additional information about the examination will be provided to you by email. Please check the email address you registered with regularly for up-to-date information about the upcoming examination. Be sure to check your junk email folder as well.

Your examination processing fee of $100 must be paid by 11:59 p.m. on August 30, 2019 for standard registration. Late registrations submitted from August 30, 2019 through 11:59pm on September 9, 2019 will be accepted at a higher examination-processing fee of $150. If you have not registered and paid for the examination on or before September 9, 2019, your registration will not be processed or accepted, and you will not be eligible to take the examination. Persons who have successfully registered will later receive an email notification that includes important information about the date, time, exact location, and other general information for their examination. A study guide will also be available to confirmed registrants at no additional cost in advance of the exam.

Fee Waiver: The examination fee may be waived for registrants receiving certain state or federal public assistance, or unemployment insurance.  A link to the Fee Waiver Form is available at the Trial Court Employment Webpage Jobs with the Court System. You must follow the instructions on the Fee Waiver Form regarding proper submission of the Form and supporting documentation. All Fee Waiver forms must be either scanned and emailed to exams@jud.state.ma.us or faxed to Trial Court Exams at (617) 742-0968 on or before August 30, 2019. Late Fee Waiver Forms will not be accepted.

Reasonable Exam Accommodations: If you would like to request a reasonable accommodation for the examination due to a documented impairment, you must successfully register for the exam online and then complete an Exam Accommodation Form. A link to the Exam Accommodation Form is available at the Trial Court Employment Webpage Jobs with the Court System. You must also submit a letter of support from a qualified professional detailing what type of reasonable accommodation you are requesting at the examination site. You must follow the instructions on the Exam Accommodation Form regarding proper submission of the Form and supporting documentation.

All Exam Accommodation Forms and supporting documentation must be either scanned and emailed to exams@jud.state.ma.us or faxed to Trial Court Exams at (617) 742-0968 on or before August 30, 2019. Late Exam Accommodation Forms will not be accepted. Without such letter by August 30, 2019, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to grant your accommodation. This information is requested only to provide reasonable accommodation for examinations, and will not be used for any other purposes.

Current Military Personnel: All military personnel who, in connection with current service, have military orders that indicate their unavailability due to military service on the examination date, must register for the examination, pay the processing fee, and request a makeup examination in writing, with a copy of your military orders attached.

Military related requests must be mailed to:

Office of Court Management
2 Center Plaza, Room 540
Boston, MA  02108
ATTN:  Test Administration - Probation Officer

Please provide with your request an email address, daytime base phone number and/or name and phone number of a friend or family member with whom you have regular contact and entrust with your personal communication. Note: Only candidates who have registered and have submitted the examination-processing fee or Fee Waiver Form for this examination by the registration deadline will qualify for a military make up examination.

No Makeup Examination: With the exception of current military personnel as described above, no candidate has a right to a makeup examination due to personal or professional conflicts on the testing date. Candidates are advised to consider this policy BEFORE applying for the examination. If you have registered and subsequently encounter a personal emergency or unanticipated hardship, you may request a makeup examination by filing a written request with verifiable documentation to:

Office of Court Management
2 Center Plaza, Room 540
Boston, MA  02108
ATTN:  Test Administration - Probation Officer

Note: Previously scheduled vacation plans will not qualify as a personal emergency, unanticipated hardship, or grounds for a makeup examination. 

Makeup examination requests must be received no later than 7 calendar days after the scheduled examination date. The Trial Court reserves the right to approve or deny your request and may require an additional examination processing fee upon approval of your request.

Identification at the Examination Site: At the examination site, registrants must present current and valid photo identification with signature (e.g., driver’s license, passport, military ID).

Change of Personal Information: Registrants are responsible for maintaining accurate contact information (e.g., address, email, phone number) with the Trial Court. Failure to keep your records up-to-date and to email them to exams@jud.state.ma.us may jeopardize opportunities for employment.

Refunds: There will be NO REFUND of the examination processing fee unless the examination is cancelled by the Trial Court.

During the Trial Court review process or during the life of this candidate pool, candidates must make original supporting documentation available should the issue of authenticity arise with any submitted document copies.

Additional Resources for Examination details

Examination contact information

The Office of the Court Management is managing the examination process for this job. For more details or questions regarding this process please contact:

Office of Court Management

  • Business Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:30 am - 4:30 pm, except holidays.
  • Email: exams@jud.state.ma.us
  • Telephone Number: (617) 742-8575

Examination payment information

To register and make your registration payment for the examination, please click this link: Probation Officer Exam Registration

This link will direct you to Industrial/Organizational Solutions (IOS), the testing vender, who will be processing payment on behalf of the Massachusetts Trial Court. All registrations must be received by the posted deadline and accompanied by an examination processing fee. You will receive a confirmation email when you have completed the process. Your registration is not complete until you have received a confirmation email. All additional information about the examination will be provided to you by email. Please check the email address you registered with regularly for up-to-date information about the upcoming examination. Also be sure to check your junk email folder as well for any emails that may be there.

All exam registrants who have registered and secured a seat at the examination will receive immediate access to a study guide. You will be able to access your study guide via the IOS Recruitment website after making your registration payment at the above URL.

Key Actions for Examination payment information

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