While associate's degrees and certificate programs are available in the area of criminal justice, a bachelor's degree or higher is generally required to become a juvenile probation officer. Most of these programs award a Bachelor of Science degree. Some credits from a related associate's degree program may transfer, depending on the college or university.
Students in a criminal justice degree program will learn the functions and processes of the various aspects of the American judicial system, which will be vital for success as a juvenile probation officer. Because many young offenders come from dysfunctional backgrounds, students in criminal justice degree programs also learn about psychology and theories of human behavior.
In order to enroll in the program, students need to hold a high school diploma or GED, possibly with a minimum GPA requirement. An admissions essay and satisfactory SAT or ACT scores are also typically required. Bachelor's programs are usually four years long for full-time students.
Bachelor's for Juvenile Probation Officers Coursework
Common core coursework in the field of juvenile probation includes:
- Juvenile delinquency
- Criminal procedure and justice ethics
- Punishment and corrections
- Social deviance
- Judicial system and law enforcement principles
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth for probation officers, including juvenile probation officers, should be 4% during the decade from 2014-2024. The BLS also states that the median annual salary for a probation officer was $49,360 in 2015 (www.bls.gov).
Most states require juvenile probation officers to take a certification test after completing an approved undergraduate degree program. Graduates may also work as trainees for several years before being promoted to positions with full responsibility. Master's degree programs in criminal justice are available for those looking for career advancement in the field of juvenile probation. Certificate programs are also available, including a certificate in juvenile counseling and probation specialist.
A bachelor's in criminal justice focused on juvenile probation teaches students about the criminal justice system and how to help young offenders. While a bachelor's degree is sufficient to find work, most states require juvenile probation officers to be certified, and master's and certificate programs exist to enhance your education.