Juvenile Probation Officer: Career Profile, Job Outlook, and Training Requirements

Research what it takes to become a juvenile probation officer. Learn about job duties, outlook, and necessary training to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Juvenile Justice degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Juvenile Probation Officer Do?

Juvenile probation officers work with criminal offenders under the age of 18 who were placed on probation by the court. A probation officer is responsible for ensuring that the juvenile in his or her charge abides by laws and does not breach any probation terms. They must meet with the probationers, provide resources for them, connect them with substance abuse counseling if needed and maintain case files. Officers visit with probationers frequently to help rehabilitate them. See the table below for information about education requirements, job outlook, and salary potential for this career.

Education Required Bachelor's required; master's often preferred
Education Field of Study Social work, criminal justice, or related field
Training Required State-mandated training program
Key Skills Communication, problem solving, interpersonal and critical thinking
Job Growth (2014-2024) 4%* (for all probation officers and correctional treatment specialists)
Median Salary (May 2015) $49,360* (for all probation officers and correctional treatment specialists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is a Juvenile Probation Officer?

Probation officers, unlike parole officers, work with convicted criminals who have not been to prison but are on probation as part of a court sentence. As a juvenile probation officer, you'll supervise juveniles under the age of 18. You'll generally be responsible for ensuring that the juvenile doesn't violate the terms of his or her probation. You'll work with community organizations and social services to support the juvenile in rehabilitation.

You'll visit juveniles at home, in school or at work with random checks. These visits may include searching the juvenile and his or her personal belongings, surprise drug tests and interviewing family members or supervisors. Tasks may include keeping a log of the juvenile's progress or setbacks and keeping records of restitution paid.

How Does the Future of the Job Look?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), probation officers and correctional treatment specialists are expected to have a 4% growth in employment between the years of 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). As of May 2015, all probation officers, regardless of focus, earned a median annual salary of $49,360.

How Should I Train?

If you're interested in becoming a juvenile probation officer, a bachelor's degree is the minimum degree requirement for the career. Commonly, a degree in social work, criminal justice or a similar area prepares you for this career. You should select a program that offers courses in the basics of sociology, probation and parole systems, juvenile delinquents and human behavior. Other helpful classes are criminology, criminal justice systems, psychology and welfare. A high priority is developing communication, problem solving, interpersonal and critical thinking skills.

Consider continuing your education with a master's degree in social work or criminal justice. Most programs provide additional intervention strategies, understanding of ethnicity and cultures, therapeutic methods and social work practice. You'll also be able to focus your study more on juveniles and crime. After you've completed your education, you can look for work with county correction systems. Some counties have probation officer training programs that are completed through the county.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counseling is an alternative career option. These counselors advise, treat and support those suffering from alcoholism, drug addiction and eating disorders. Similar to probation officers, they need a bachelor's degree. Becoming a social worker is another related career option that involves supporting people with their issues in their everyday lives. Social workers need at least a bachelor's degree, though clinical social workers need a master's.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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