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Youth Correctional Officer Job Description

Learn about the educational requirements for a youth correctional officer. Discover the work duties, employment outlook and salary in order to decide if this is the right career for you.

Career Definition for a Youth Correctional Officer

Youth correctional officers are responsible for supervising youth who have been arrested and are awaiting trial or who have been convicted of a crime and are serving their term in a reformatory or a juvenile facility. The primary duty of a youth correctional officer is to ensure the safety and security of inmates and other corrections employees; however, officers are also responsible for the ongoing education and counseling of youth offenders. Youth correctional officers are responsible for conducting headcounts and safely moving inmates from place to place, as well as teaching life skills.

Education High school diploma or GED; undergraduate degree required for counseling or teaching positions
Job Skills Interpersonal, good judgement, physical strength, interest in working with children and young adults
Median Salary (2016)* $35,348 (for correctional officers in general)
Job Growth (2014-2024)** 4% (for correctional officers and jailers)

Sources: *PayScale.com, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Depending on the exact role you plan to occupy as a youth correctional officer, the necessary amount of education will vary. While a high school diploma or GED is typically the minimum credential for an entry-level position, you will need a degree from a two- or four-year college if you want to work in counseling or teaching as a youth correctional officer. Typical coursework includes criminal justice, law, adolescent development, counseling, family therapy and issues faced by at-risk youth.

Required Skills

To succeed as a youth correctional officer, you must be able to work with children and young adults. Conflict resolution, drug abuse prevention and good communication and interpersonal skills will also serve you well in this field. Because of its stressful nature, good emotional and mental health and an ability to handle demanding situations are also necessary.

Economic and Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of jobs among correctional officers and jailers is expected to grow at a slower-than-average rate of 4% from 2014 to 2024. Layoffs and staff reductions are uncommon in corrections because of increasing inmate populations. According to PayScale.com, the median salary among correctional officers was $35,348 as of January 2016.

Alternative Careers

Similar career options within the corrections and criminal justice fields include:

Probation Officer

For those who want to work with juvenile offenders and help them improve their lives and stay out of jail, becoming a probation officer may be the right career move. Probation officers meet with convicted criminals sentenced to probation and help them find employment and other community resources. Probation professionals also monitor activities, provide advice and create reports outlining progress. To gain employment in this profession, a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, social work or a related field is required. Some employers may even prefer a master's degree.

The BLS predicts that employment of probation officers and correctional treatment specialists will grow by 4% between 2014 and 2024. Due to the stressful nature of the work, competition for open positions will not be strong. PayScale.com reports that, as of January 2016, the median salary for probation officers was $39,041.

Police Officer

If working to put criminals behind bars sounds more appealing, a career as a police officer may be of interest. Some duties of a police officer include responding to emergencies and crime scenes, arresting suspects, writing out tickets and testifying in court. A college degree may not always be required to enter the field, but police candidates must graduate from an academy program and complete specialized training. The BLS projects that employment of police officers and detectives will increase by 4% between 2014 and 2024. In January 2016, PayScale.com reported that the median salary for police officers was $48,815.


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