Juvenile Probation Officer Training
Juvenile probation officers must have completed a bachelors degree in criminal justice, psychology, counseling, or corrections. Having a history of working with youth is helpful. Some employers require experience in addition to having completed a degree. Look for opportunities while completing your education to assist with organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club or other programs designed to support youth. Having experience with social work or counseling in some capacity will also be helpful when you begin applying for positions. If you do not have any experience, higher levels of education such as a masters degree could make you a competitive job candidate.
How to Become a Juvenile Probation Officer
Becoming a juvenile probation officer begins with knowing that you enjoy working with youth and find the work rewarding. It is a good idea to first do some volunteer work with organizations such as Big Brothers, Big Sisters or Boys and Girls Club to determine if counseling and rehabilitation of young adults is something you are effective at and that you find enjoyable. In order to meet basic qualifications for most juvenile probation officer jobs you will need to complete a bachelors degree in criminal justice, corrections, social work, psychology, or something related. Together with a strong educational background and some work experience, you will have the necessary skills to begin applying for positions. Most probation jobs will require a background check, drug testing, and psychological examination.
Getting Experience Working with Youth
There are a number of ways to satisfy the requirement that you have had experience working with youth. First, be sure not to overlook experience in coaching sports teams or the camp counselor job you took one summer as a college student. Any activity involving the supervision, leadership, or coordination of youth in the past will be helpful in satisfying the youth experience requirement. If you do not have any of these experiences to draw from, here are a few additional ideas:
- Big Brothers, Big Sisters
- Boys & Girls Club
- Summer Camp Counseling
- Junior Achievement
Juvenile Probation Officer Career Description
Juvenile probation officers primary objective is to assist problem adolescents to become active, healthy participants in society through a counseling, motivating, assisting with help from additional programs, rehabilitation, substance abuse counseling, and monitoring of activities. As a juvenile probation officer you will be expected to take notes and keep well documented case files, assess the progress of the individual, and make recommendations when necessary for additional treatment programs. The position is also referred to as a correctional treatment specialist, juvenile counselor, or juvenile caseworker.
The following are common duties to expect in a juvenile probation officer job description & requirements:
- Bachelor's degree in criminal justice, corrections, or related field
- Previous experience working with youth
- Bilingual or additional languages spoken a plus
- Must pass criminal background check; no felonies
- Perform social investigations and evaluations of juvenile offenders
- Conduct interviews with relatives, employers, and members of other social programs
- Prepare written assessments with recommendations to court
- Acts as advisor, supervisor, and counselor in accordance with court directives
- Refers juvenile to additional social programs or assistance as needed
- Must appear and testify in court hearings
- Meet with juvenile offender on a regular basis at corrections office or offsite as needed
- Must be able to provide crisis intervention in high risk situations
- Ability to communicate effectively with youth as well as attorneys and court personnel
Working Conditions - The Rewards & Challenges as a Juvenile Probation Officer
As a juvenile probation officer, you must be passionate about helping youth get on the right track and form new goals and habits. You must be a role model and be able to effectively motivate and challenge young adults who may be very difficult to get through to. The job is very hands-on and requires a great deal of energy and patience. You must be able to win the respect and trust of those you work with in order to effectively teach them a better way of conduct and how to work towards their goals. This is not a job for the meek or defensive personality as it demands a level of patience, compassion, and equanimity in demeanor.
Your work setting can vary greatly from a simple meeting in a correctional facility to an outdoor adventure. The popularity of youth "boot camps" and outdoor adventures is rising and has proven to create an atmosphere conducive to allowing the youth to gain a heightened perspective of their behavior and life choices. Another form of rehabilitation for troubled or abused kids is animal therapy which integrates the power of unconditional support by animals into a recovery plan.
Juvenile Probation Officer Salary
The median average salary for juvenile probation officers is $47,200 (as of June 2010), according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Pay for this profession can vary from state to state, and also based on experience within the field. Those with a master's degree in criminal justice generally make more than their counterparts with less education. Schools that offer juvenile probation officer degrees & training will also have some additional data about pay in your area. Beyond the base salary, officers can expect to earn additional benefits including medical & health insurance coverage, dental, vision, and retirement plan contributions. Since many of the jobs are staffed by government employees, workers within this profession are often eligible for city, county, or state benefits and pension plans.
Probation Officer Associations & Groups
National Juvenile Detention Association, Inc.
521 Lancaster Ave 300
Richmond, KY 40475-3100
Juvenile Justice Trainers Association
American Probation & Parole Association
PO Box 11910
Lexington, KY 40578-1910
Federal Probation & Pretrial Officers Association (F P P O A)
West Region Phone: 509-376-7467
Central Region Phone: (512) 916-5761, ext. 255
Great Lakes Region Phone: (574) 246-8138
Northeast Region Phone: (518) 257-1728
Southeast Region Phone: 478-207-2174
FPPOA National Academic Scholarship:
Maximum of $1,000 per year.
See FPPOA website for more information.
Illinois Probation and Court Services Association(IPCSA)
PO Box 301
Westmont, IL 60559-0301
Please Contact us if you know of other groups or associations that should be listed on this page.
Article By Aaron Heyntsen