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Become a Truant Officer: Education and Career Roadmap

Research truant officer career information. Learn about the job duties and training requirements to make an informed decision about becoming a truant officer.

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Career Overview for Truant Officers

Truant officers, also called attendance or truancy officers, ensure that students are attending school and investigate students who have unexcused or excessive absences. They might counsel students who are consistently absent as well as those who regularly arrive at school late or leave school early. Truant officers might work with school social workers, psychologists, teachers and other staff members to intervene with these students and get them on the right track. Additionally, they might serve as intermediaries between school officials, parents, law enforcement agencies and the court system.

Truant officers generally are hired by individual schools or school districts. In some cases, employers require that truant officers have a background in law enforcement, while others seek truant officers who have experience working with children in a leadership capacity and/or have completed postsecondary coursework in social work or counseling. Being athletic as well as proficient in a foreign language may also prove useful.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment growth of 20% is projected for child, family and school social workers, a category that includes truant officers. This projected rate is slightly faster than the national average of 14% for all occupations. In December 2013, PayScale.com indicated that the median annual salary for truant officers was $30,618.

Law Enforcement Track

In some states, the designation truant officer is reserved for individuals who have obtained a certain rank in law enforcement. Other states have developed collaborative programs between school districts and local police departments.

To become a police officer, one must have at least a high school education, although some departments call for completion of some postsecondary training. Thus, aspiring truant officers might want to look into studying law enforcement, criminal justice or a related field at the certificate, associate's degree or bachelor's degree level. Regardless of education, police recruits typically must complete a training academy before going out on their first assignment.

Social Work or Counseling Track

A degree in social work or counseling could provide an educational foundation for aspiring truant officers. Social work programs typically focus on social justice, advocacy, diverse populations, philosophy and sociology. Students learn to work with individuals as well as families, organizations and groups. These programs should teach students about ethics and laws involved with social work and allow them to work with professional social workers.

Master's degree programs in counseling might focus on marriage and family therapy, clinical counseling or working in public school systems. Students might learn about abnormal psychology, counseling theories and group counseling. Additionally, some schools offer graduate certificates in areas such as military, adolescent and transformative counseling. Programs tend to provide professional experience opportunities for students in counseling settings.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics