Bachelor's degrees in criminal justice or social work provide juvenile probation training, since both discuss societal issues across the life span. Admission to these programs is often facilitated by prior professional experience in a human-services related field, although some programs require applicants to complete some coursework before entering the program. Students may start their education at a community college and transfer general liberal arts courses, or begin postsecondary schooling at a 4-year institution. Criminal justice programs typically focus on issues at the national level while social work programs focus on issues on the individual level. Criminal justice programs may be available completely online.
Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
Students in this program study the criminal justice systems in place in the United States. They develop knowledge and skills in psychology and sociology as they learn about the societal impacts of justice administration. Programs may be completed in less than four years if prior credits are transferred in. Course topics include:
- Juvenile delinquency
- Domestic violence
- Criminal law
- Research methods
Bachelor of Social Work
Social work students are taught to work with a variety of clientele and manage available resources to assist disadvantaged populations. Prerequisite classes related to psychology are required for admission into some programs. Studies of current social issues and human behavior are incorporated into the curriculum with classes such as:
- Social welfare policy
- Human behavior theory
- Family dysfunction
Continuing Education Information
Specific licensing or certification requirements are generally not required for juvenile probation officers to be employed. The juvenile probation training prepares officers to pass a series of psychological, physical and oral tests frequently distributed by employers, and these may be followed by a probationary period. However, the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) offers certification in specific areas such as cognitive behavioral change, sexual offender management, officer safety and victim issues.
The APPA offers training institutes throughout the year that focus on current theories and technologies applicable to probation officers. These institutes are usually a few days in length and held in larger cities. Attendants gain valuable career information and have networking opportunities.
Juvenile probation training may continue with the pursuit of graduate degrees. Officers may work to obtain leadership positions through performance and experience. Additionally, some states require a minimum number of continuing education hours each year.
Students interested in a career as a juvenile probation officer can earn a bachelor's degree in criminal justice or social work. Some courses you may take for these programs include criminal law, ethics, human behavior theory, and addiction.