Should I Become a Truant Officer?
Truant officers, also called attendance or truancy officers, ensure that students are attending school and investigate students who have unexcused or excessive absences. They might counsel students who are consistently absent as well as those who regularly arrive at school late or leave school early. Truant officers might work with school social workers, psychologists, teachers and other staff members to intervene with these students and get them on the right track. Additionally, they might serve as intermediaries between school officials, parents, law enforcement agencies and the court system.
|Degree Level||Diploma minimum; certificate, associate's degree, bachelor's degree, master's degree|
|Degree Field||Law enforcement, criminal justice, social work, counseling|
|Experience||Training academy, law enforcement, working with children, social work or counseling|
|Key Skills||Leadership, counseling|
|Salary (2015)||$32,500 per year (median salary for attendance officers)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, PayScale.com
Step 1: Complete the Education Requirements
In some states, the designation truant officer is reserved for individuals who have obtained a certain rank in law enforcement. Other states have developed collaborative programs between school districts and local police departments.
Law enforcement track: To become a police officer, one must have at least a high school education, although some departments call for completion of some post-secondary training. Thus, aspiring truant officers might want to look into studying law enforcement, criminal justice or a related field at the certificate, associate's degree or bachelor's degree level.
- Complete a training academy. Regardless of education, police recruits typically must complete a training academy before going out on their first assignment.
Social work or counseling track: A degree in social work or counseling could also provide an educational foundation for aspiring truant officers. Social work programs typically focus on social justice, advocacy, diverse populations, philosophy and sociology. Students learn to work with individuals as well as families, organizations and groups. These programs should teach students about ethics and laws involved with social work and allow them to work with professional social workers.
Step 2: Gain Experience
Truant officers generally are hired by individual schools or school districts. In some cases, employers require that truant officers have a background in law enforcement, while others seek truant officers who have experience working with children in a leadership capacity and/or have completed post-secondary coursework in social work or counseling. Being athletic as well as proficient in a foreign language may also prove useful.
- Get hands-on counseling experience. Master's degree programs in counseling may provide professional experience opportunities.
Step 3: Get a Master's Degree
A master's degree may help advance your career as a truant officer. Master's degree programs in counseling might focus on marriage and family therapy, clinical counseling or working in public school systems. Students might learn about abnormal psychology, counseling theories and group counseling. Additionally, some schools offer graduate certificates in areas such as military, adolescent and transformative counseling. Programs tend to provide professional experience opportunities for students in counseling settings.