Juvenile Probation Officer Education Requirements and Career Info
Most juvenile probation officers focus on one area, such as intake, supervision or investigation. A bachelor's or master's degree in criminal justice, psychology or a related area is generally necessary in order to work in this field.
Education Requirements for a Juvenile Probation Officer
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many juvenile probation officers hold a bachelor's degree, while a master's degree can lead to promotion and advancement within an agency (www.bls.gov). Common undergraduate majors include criminal justice, psychology, sociology, social work and behavioral science. Coursework typically involves learning about the social and psychological motivations behind human behavior, including criminal acts. Completion of an internship with a local agency or correctional facility can provide students with experience and may lead to increased job prospects following graduation.
Most agencies require candidates to pass oral and written tests, complete psychological and medical examinations and hold a current driver's license. Individuals convicted of previous felonies are typically ineligible for these jobs. Juvenile probation officers need good communication skills in order to interact with youths, as well as other social service professionals.
Career Information for a Juvenile Probation Officer
Although BLS data specific to juvenile probation officers isn't available, the site noted that employment of probation officers and correctional treatment specialists in general was expected to decrease by 1% from 2012-2022. Reasons cited include state budgetary cuts leading to reduced sentences for offenders and older employees retiring. The middle 50% of workers employed as probation officers and correctional treatment specialists earned between $37,590 and $65,330 per year as of 2013, reported the BLS.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the specific tasks performed by juvenile probation officers can substantially vary between jurisdictions and states (www.ncjrs.gov). Almost all juvenile probation officers exclusively counsel youths, but those working in rural areas may work with both adults and juveniles. They may work in intake, which requires screening the case histories of youth; investigations, which involves examining the background and offenses committed by youths before they're sentenced; or supervision, which gives them the authority to counsel and supervise youths who are sentenced to probation. Junior probation officers may also work at residential facilities, detention centers or aftercare programs to keep youths out of trouble and prevent recidivism.
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