About the training

Train on the job

When you train to be a Probation Officer you have the chance to directly influence the safety of our community. What we do has a significant impact on society – and with the Professional Qualification in Probation (PQiP) programme, you’ll be given the tools and training needed to be the future of the service.

What is the Professional Qualification in Probation (PQiP)?

PQiP is a full-time (37 hours per week) work-based learning programme which you’ll need to successfully complete in order to become a Probation Officer. It combines applied academic learning and practical skills development to ensure you’re fully equipped to deal with all the different kinds of offenders in our care.

At the end of the programme, you’ll gain a Level 5 vocational qualification diploma in Probation Practice as well as an Honours Degree. You’ll have the necessary skills and knowledge to assess the risk of offenders and prepare professional reports. You will work with a range of offenders, including those who have committed violent and sexual offences, to rehabilitate and reduce reoffending.


You will be expected to travel to learning events on a regular basis, particularly in the first 6 months of the programme. These include:

  • Classroom-based workshops and seminars
  • Online workshops and seminars
  • E-learning
  • Support from an academic tutor


Alongside the study elements of the programme, you’ll work as a Probation Services Officer (PSO).

  • This could be in a community-based Local Delivery Unit (LDU), a prison establishment or a court team
  • You’ll be assessed as you develop your confidence and competence in the role – this will include observations, professional discussions and witness testimonies
  • You’ll receive support from a line manager and an assessor
My week - Joe, current PQiP learner

Joe began his probation officer training in November 2017. He is halfway through the 15-month training course. He did a degree in criminology and a master’s in criminology and criminal justice.

“There’s no typical day of training. It’s always really varied. There are 16 of us who all started together. We’re all based at different offices over London but we see each other at least once a week for training.

“The working hours are 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. But there will be times when you can opt to do some late-night reporting.”

Monday – probation office
Being at my local probation office is the most ‘typical’ day at work – but it can also be the busiest. There will be appointments with service users throughout the day. These sessions might involve activities like making a timeline of their life and talking about the events that led them to where they are today. Or making a mind map to help people think up solutions to problems they’re having. It’s a really creative role and always people-facing.

Between appointments I go back to my desk to answer emails and contact external agencies. I might be in touch with social services regarding a safeguarding concern or talk to immigration services.

Tuesday – University masterclass
Classes last all day and are really enjoyable. Learning the theory that underpins probation practice is very motivating. The majority of your study is online – and you’ll have a masterclass with lecturers from the University.

Wednesday – Prison visit
Today I was out of the office on a prison visit. This involved getting a tour of the prison, talking to prison officers, offender supervisors and getting to know an offender who is due for release. I’ll be working closely with him when he is out so it’s important he knows who I am and what to expect when that happens. We discussed what courses he’s done in custody which will help him upon release.

After the visit, I was able to go to another office (nearer the prison) to work from there for the rest of the day. One of the other trainees was there too so it was good to catch up!

Thursday – Training at head office
Training sessions cover the different elements of the job, like parole training, working with sex offenders, and learning how to complete offender assessments. The training’s high quality and always interesting. Once a month we also do peer-group learning which is where the trainees lead the session and learn from each other. It’s not as scary as it sounds! Today we got someone in to talk from the drugs charity we work with and one of the trainees discussed a case with the group so we could share advice.

Friday – probation office
Back at the office! In the afternoon I conducted a home visit to see a service user and their family in their property and see how they were getting on. No two days are the same and you’re learning throughout everything.


Quoteorange 2X

...It is a challenge but it’s nothing you can’t do

How long is the programme?

The PQiP programme is 15 or 21 months long, depending on whether you have previous education in criminology or similar.

15 month programme - designed for applicants who have a certified Level 5 qualification or higher*, which contains at least 3 of the 4 following required knowledge modules:

  • The Criminal Justice System
  • Understanding Crime and Criminal Behaviour
  • Penal Policy and the Punishment of Offenders
  • Rehabilitation of Offenders

21 month programme - designed for applicants with a certified Level 5 qualification or higher* but who have no previous education in criminology or similar. If you are assessed to be suitable for this course, you’ll spend your first 6 months completing up to 4 of the required knowledge modules outlined above, before going on to the PQiP element of the programme.

* Candidates with qualifications higher than a Level 5 qualification will also be considered.


Salary and benefits

During your training you will earn £22,261:

  • Plus £1,100 if in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Kent, Berkshire, Hertfordshire, Norfolk or Suffolk Local Delivery Units
  • Plus £3,889 if in London

We offer a generous annual leave allowance of 25 days (which increases to 30 days after five years) plus 8 public holidays.


The National Probation Service is covered by the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS). You can find a copy of the LGPS member guide under the A-Z contents listing on the GMPF main website: http://www.gmpf.org.uk/

Please note: Any current civil servant who is a member of the PCSPS, by accepting an offer of employment to the National Probation Services will be opted out of the PCSPS and auto enrolled into the Local Government Pension Scheme.

What happens after the programme?

Once you’ve completed the programme, you’ll be qualified to take up a Probation Officer role. You will remain on contract as a Probation Services Officer (PSO) until you transition into a Probation Officer position.

Find out what happens after your training.

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e: nps@engageats.co.uk

t: 0808 164 9883