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Youth Probation Career Options and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a youth probation officer. Get a quick view of the educational requirements as well as details about career options, job duties and average salary to find out if this is the career for you.

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Youth probation officers, also known as juvenile probation officers, work with children and teenagers who have encountered problems with the law. A youth probation officer typically will require a bachelor's degree in relevant field like social work, legal studies or psychology. In addition to the post-secondary education, they usually must complete training from federal or state agencies.

Essential Information

Youth probation workers monitor and manage children and adolescents who have served time or been placed on probation for committing a crime. Individuals in youth probation careers must complete a degree program and additional state or federal training to become a juvenile probation officer or counselor.

Required Education A bachelor's degree in social work, psychology, criminal justice, corrections or legal studies
Other Requirements State or federal training
Projected Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 4% (Probation Officers & Correctional Treatment Specialists)
Median Annual Salary (May 2015)* $49,360 per year (Probation Officers & Correctional Treatment Specialists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options in Youth Probation

Individuals in youth probation careers, also known as juvenile probation careers, typically hold one of two positions: youth probation officer or youth probation counselor. Youth probation officers generally focus on adolescent offenders, watching and analyzing the teens' conduct and performance. They regularly communicate with their charges and keep written records of all appointments, contacts and observations. Youth probation officers are responsible for scheduling drug testing and counseling sessions.

Youth probation counselors work alongside youth probation officers and maintain frequent contact with social workers, families and teachers of juvenile offenders. They complete predisposition studies and testify at hearings. Juvenile probation counselors also are responsible for making incarceration recommendations, such as placing a juvenile offender in a detention facility or group home. Additionally, juvenile probation counselors might also provide substance abuse or mental health guidance to the juvenile offenders, as well as offering similar services to the offender's family.

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Career Requirements

According to the Occupational Information Network, most people who have careers in youth probation possess at least a bachelor's degree. Relevant academic subject areas may include social work, criminal justice, corrections, legal studies, psychology or a related practical discipline, such as counseling. Some positions might require the completion of a master's or doctoral degree program. Prospective youth probation workers are typically trained in government procedures, therapy and counseling, communication, social services and leadership.

Applicants for youth probation careers typically are required to complete training programs sponsored by state or federal government agencies. Oral, written, physical and psychological examinations may also be required to provide proof of communication skills, emotional stability and knowledge of law and procedures. Youth probation counselors may need to hold state licensure.

Career and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that probation officers will see 4% prospective job growth between 2014-2024. The BLS reported that in May 2015, probation officers earned a median salary of $49,360 per year.

Youth probation officers can help to make a difference in troubled youths' lives through effective communication and skills. A bachelor's degree, as well as state training and oral, written, physical and psychological examinations are required. Emotional stability and critical thinking skills will also be useful traits to have as a youth probation officer.

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