Professionals who work in juvenile correctional services oversee minors who have been in trouble with the law. If you're interested in assisting adolescents who need help, read on to learn more about academic and training requirements for juvenile corrections specialists or probation officers.
As a professional employed in juvenile corrections services, you might hold a position as a juvenile corrections officer, juvenile probation officer or youth correctional counselor, often working long hours or on call. Potential employers can include juvenile correctional facilities, community groups, private associations or government agencies. As communication among all parties involved in a juvenile case is key, you'll need good interpersonal, speaking and writing skills to work in the field.
Some employers seek applicants who have a degree or college-level coursework in behavioral science or criminal justice. Equivalent experience may serve as a substitute for a formal education. Earning a graduate degree could lead to leadership positions in juvenile corrections.
As a juvenile corrections professional, you'll observe and guide youth offenders, assist in determining proper treatment and make sure juveniles are protected and in safe environments. You may also conduct group meetings with juvenile offenders or work with their families. Additional responsibilities can include interacting with juveniles and helping them develop basic social skills.
Nationwide, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has predicted minimal to no change in employment for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists from 2012-2022, including those who work with juveniles. In May 2013, the average annual salary for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists was $52,910, noted the BLS (www.bls.gov).
Educational requirements for juvenile corrections professionals vary based on job type and employer. For example, government agencies and individual employers may require completion of a formal training program. However, you may be able to obtain a position if you're at least 21 years old and have completed some college coursework or have prior experience working with youths. Some agencies also conduct background checks or mental evaluations and require you to demonstrate physical aptitude.
Academic offerings that focus on juvenile correctional services range from undergraduate certificate programs to graduate degree programs; online courses for juvenile probation officers are also available. A certificate program takes about one year to complete and can serve as a starting point for entry-level positions in juvenile justice. You could also enroll in an associate degree program in corrections, probation and parole, a bachelor's degree program in corrections or a bachelor's degree program in corrections, probation and parole. Course topics may include criminal behavior in juveniles, child psychology, crime prevention among juveniles and rehabilitation procedures.