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Careers Working With Troubled & At-Risk Youth

There are several career options for individuals who wish to work with troubled and at-risk youth. Your career may allow you to play a more preventative role in a youth's life, help them not make bad choices, and help youths get their lives on track after making poor decisions.

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Career Options That Involve Working with Troubled & At-Risk Youth

Individuals who have a passion for working with young people may want to pursue a career that will allow them to directly impact the lives of troubled and at-risk youth. Within this field, there are many different career paths that will allow you to intervene in the lives of troubled youths to help them improve their lives and make better decisions. Some of these jobs involve working with youths before they have made any life-altering decisions or mistakes, while others involve helping young people get their lives back on track after major mistakes or challenges.

Job Title Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Social Worker $46,890 12%
Mental Health Counselor $42,840 20%
School and Career Counselor $54,560 8%
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor $41,070 22%
Probation Officer/Correctional Treatment Specialist $50,160 4%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information for Jobs Involving Troubled & At-Risk Youth

Social Worker

Social workers work with many different people who are experiencing problems in their lives. Some social workers may choose to focus specifically on working with children as child and family social workers or school social workers. These professionals identify different youths who may be struggling in school with their academics, lashing out in the classroom or at home, or making poor decisions that could get them into trouble. They develop a relationship with the young person in order to help them create a plan to make better decisions. They also may refer them to different counseling services and support groups if the youth has experienced a traumatic event that may be having a negative impact on their behavior. To become a social worker, you will need a bachelor's degree in social work.

Mental Health Counselor

As a mental health counselor, you provide treatment to individuals who are experiencing any number of different issues, like depression, anxiety, or stress. Some mental health counselors may work with young people who are behaving poorly at home or at school in order to get to the root of what is causing this negative behavior. They provide counseling and therapy services, help clients talk through traumatic emotional events, and help them develop better ways of coping with their feelings. Counselors also may diagnose various mental disorders and may refer clients to a psychiatrist if they are in need of medical intervention. To become a mental health counselor, you will need a master's degree and a license to practice.

School and Career Counselor

As a school counselor, you will either work in an elementary, middle, or high school. Your responsibilities will include working with all types of students in order to make sure they are successful at school. For students who are struggling with their schoolwork or creating problems in the classroom, counselors will likely provide them with additional attention in order to understand what is causing their drop in performance or behavior. They may meet with students and their parents and discuss the consequences of continued bad behavior and performance, like being unable to attend college or missing out on privileges at school. To become a school and career counselor, you will need to obtain a master's degree in school counseling and a license or state credential.

Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors work with people who have problems with addiction or behavioral disorders. Many of their clients may have been required by a court or judge to seek counseling and treatment after they have committed some sort of crime. Some of these counselors may work specifically with young clients like teenagers who are struggling with addiction. They help them make a plan to overcome their addictions by setting goals and providing them with various resources. They may connect youths with 12-step programs and work with their families to teach them how to be supportive during the recovery process. This career requires that you obtain a bachelor's degree, though some positions may require a master's degree.

Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists

As a probation officer or correctional treatment specialist, you will work with individuals who have already committed some sort of crime. You may work primarily with juvenile offenders who have behavioral issues or who are troubled. As a probation officer, you would make sure the offender does not pose a threat to the community (since they aren't in a correctional facility) and keep track of the individual's progress. Correctional treatment specialists who work with juveniles would help them develop rehabilitation plans to make sure they stay out of trouble. They usually keep a detailed record of the juvenile's criminal history along with their treatment plan and progress. To become one of these professionals, you will need a bachelor's degree and must be able to pass a number of different competency tests.

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