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What does a Midwife do?

Childbirth is, at its core, both simple and complicated. Women’s bodies are designed to bear children, and yet, so many things can go wrong when it comes time to deliver a baby. An experienced, professional midwife can make the labor and birthing process safer and more comfortable for everyone involved.


A vital health care professional

Forget any preconceived notions you might have of a sarong-clad treehugger humming New Agey music while concocting natural herbal remedies; a midwife is a licensed health care professional who provides mothers (and mothers-to-be) with education, counseling, and support throughout pregnancy, labor, and delivery.

An education in gynecologic and reproductive health is a crucial foundation of this profession. Expectant mothers might choose to have their babies delivered by midwives for one of several reasons:

  • Midwives are often proponents of “natural” childbirth
  • The mother has chosen to deliver the baby at home
  • Midwives may be more affordable natal care options than other types of specialists

Because of the nature of the work, you must have excellent communication skills, a good bedside manner and unending patience in order to succeed as a midwife.

The many faces of midwifery

There are several different types of midwife, each requiring specific qualifications. Your licensing may depend upon the state you live in, and the state(s) you wish to practice in.

  • A Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) is both a trained and licensed nurse and midwife, and is classified as an “advanced practice nurse.” They are registered nurses who most often hold at least a master’s degree and are certified by the American College of Nurse Midwives.
  • A Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) is a trained midwife who is certified by the North American Registry of Midwives.
  • A Direct-Entry Midwife (DEM) trained independently through an academic program or an apprenticeship.
  • A Certified Midwife (CM) is trained in midwifery, generally holds at least a bachelor’s degree, and is certified by the American College of Nurse Midwives.
  • Finally, a Law Midwife is someone who trained through apprenticeship, and does not hold any certifications.

Depending on the level of education you would like to pursue, this career offers multiple options and advancements. Your educational level is also likely to determine your salary potential.

A career is born

The amount of money you earn as a midwife will vary, depending upon where you live, where you work, and what level of education and certification you have. Midwives work in a variety of professional settings, from hospitals to health clinics to private practices. Midwifery can be a fairly autonomous career, so many midwifes operate their own practices. The American College of Nurse-Midwives reports that most midwives work in hospitals as part of a health care team that may include physicians, nutritionists, social workers, and other health care professionals.

What does a Parole Officer do?

Are you interested in both law enforcement and social work? Do you want to give back to the community by contributing to public safety? If so, you may enjoy a career as a parole officer.

Job description: the basics

Parole officers serve as monitors of and counselors to criminal offenders who have served their time in prison and been released. They keep track of offenders for the parole authority, assist offenders in planning their lives after their release, and report violations of the parole conditions as needed.

While one major aspect of being a parole officer is protecting the public by keeping offenders from committing new crimes, an equally important aspect is helping each offender successfully transition back into society. In this second role, you work constantly with offenders and their families and even the wider community (i.e., the offender’s therapist or a religious group to which the offender may belong).

parole officer

You need to be comfortable and adept at communicating with all of these different people, some of whom may be very difficult to deal with, or even violent. You can also expect to travel sometimes as you track the parolees in your caseload, and to fill out a lot of paperwork about each individual.

Becoming a parole officer: education and training

To become a parole officer, you need a bachelor’s degree in a field like criminal justice or social work. Occasionally, an employer may require a master’s degree, especially if you are trying to enter the job after switching careers and don’t have prior experience in probation, parole, or counseling work.

You often need to go through a state or federal government training program, and in addition to that, you may be required to pass a certification exam and work on a probationary basis for as much as a year at your new job.

Also, because of the demanding nature of being a parole officer, you generally take physical and psychological exams as well as oral and written exams when starting a job. Many parole agencies want their officers to be 21 or older, and the federal government usually doesn’t hire anyone over the age of 37.

Salary and career outlook

Per the U.S. Department of Labor, your employment outlook as a parole officer is expected to be excellent, but bear in mind that all jobs depend on funding at the state and federal government levels, which is often subject to change.

Although work as a parole officer is a high-stress job, the satisfaction of having a visible positive impact on an offender and the community can outweigh the negatives of this career.

What does a Probation Officer do?

Probation officers supervise criminal offenders placed on probation. Probation may be imposed as an alternative to incarceration or as an extension of prison time, and often includes rehabilitation, training or community service.

Probation officer: the job description

Probation officers meet regularly with offenders and their families, monitoring their behavior and progress through electronic monitoring devices and counseling. According to the Department of Labor, you may handle twenty to one hundred cases at a time, depending on agency jurisdiction and offender counseling needs. The following are a few common responsibilities for this profession:

  • Counseling offenders and evaluating their progress
  • Monitoring offenders’ activities through electronic devices such as ankle bracelets and drug screening
  • Arranging rehabilitation programs or job training for offenders
  • Conducting pre-sentence investigations to gather trial evidence, determine eligibility for probation and set bail; interviews with family members, coworkers and victims can influence probation recommendations, as can criminal background.
  • Testifying in court and attending hearings on sentencing and rehabilitation

You may also specialize in a particular type of offense or offender, choosing to work with substance abuse cases, juveniles or domestic and divorce cases. You may also work with psychiatrists and social workers to evaluate offenders and manage probation programs. Many probation officers work in concert with community organizations such as churches and neighborhood groups.

probation officer

Training for a career in probation

A career in this field generally begins with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, social work or psychology. In addition, the federal government and most states require a training program and a certification test. Training programs are offered through corrections agencies or professional associations such as the American Probation and Parole Association. Probation officer training programs cover applied case management skills as well as computer literacy, counseling and writing skills. On-the-job training may follow for up to a year before you can qualify for a full-time position.

You might also consider advancing into management roles, boosting your income and job responsibility. A master’s degree in criminal justice or social work (MSW) can accelerate promotions, which are awarded on the basis of professional credentials, work experience and performance.

Probation officer careers

Probation officers can expect “excellent” job opportunities, reports the Department of Labor. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists should grow 19 percent. Growing emphasis on rehabilitation is shifting the emphasis from prison time to probation, fueling demand for probation officers.

The majority of these professionals work in probation departments of state or county courts or the probation office of the U.S. District Court, specializing in juvenile, adult or family cases. The Department of Labor reports that nearly 97 percent of probation officers are employed by state and local government. California is the highest-paying state for probation officers.

Probation officers are playing an increasingly important role in criminal corrections. Prepare for your career as a probation officer with a criminal justice degree and professional training.