Juvenile probation officers work with children and adolescents who have been convicted of crimes. They meet with the offenders and their families, helping them stay out of further trouble. Most states require juvenile probation officers to meet unique certification requirements.
Often offered by community colleges and vocational schools, diploma programs in juvenile justice enable individuals to begin careers as a juvenile probation officer. Most programs offer internship opportunities through which students work with professionals in the field. Prerequisites for admission into one of these programs include a background check and drug screening, strong communication and writing skills, and sometimes experience in criminal justice with a desire to specialize in juvenile justice. Graduates from these programs may also consider moving on to an associate's degree program in juvenile justice.
Diploma in Juvenile Justice
The courses in juvenile justice diploma programs focus on rehabilitating youths who have been convicted of crimes. Many programs are interdisciplinary, offering courses in psychology, sociology and composition along with courses on corrections and justice. Students often learn about the topics noted below:
- Criminal law
- Juvenile processing
- Developmental psychology
- Juvenile social work
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), the median annual income of probation officers and correctional treatment specialists, including those working with juveniles, was $49,360 as of May 2015. The BLS predicted job growth of 4% between 2014 and 2024 for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists.
Certification and Continuing Education Information
Certification requirements for juvenile probation officers vary, but most states require a bachelor's or master's degree in criminal justice, psychology or a related field. Many states also administer written, oral and psychological exams to ensure that candidates are fit to work with juvenile offenders. Depending on the state of employment, new hires may be required to complete a supervised probationary period before being hired permanently.
Many prospective juvenile probation offers start their careers by earning a certificate in juvenile justice. Since many states require a bachelor's or master's degree in a related field for certification as a probation officer, many holders of juvenile probation certificates and diplomas continue their education.