Youth Correctional Counselor Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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Correctional counselors, also known as correctional treatment specialists, earn an annual mean wage of about $53,360. What are the pros and cons of this career? Read actual job descriptions and education requirements to make an informed decision on your career choice.
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Pros and Cons of a Youth Correctional Counselor Career

Correctional counselors evaluate, advise, and create rehabilitation strategies for offenders in correctional institutions. Read the pros and cons of this career to see if youth correctional counseling is the right career choice for you.

Pros of a Youth Correctional Counseling Career
Top ten percentile earned over $83,920 as of May 2014*
Many counselors find this career very rewarding on a personal level*
Variety in activities and challenges*

Cons of a Youth Correctional Counseling Career
Deadlines can create a stressful work environment*
Usually requires at least a bachelor's degree*
Potential for physical risk when dealing with violent offenders*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Essential Career and Salary Information

Job Description and Duties

A youth correctional counselor will act as both a role model and mentor. These counselors are tasked with supervising youthful offenders and finding ways to lead them back to the path towards becoming productive, law-abiding citizens. This can take the form of connecting the child with professional help in areas such as anger management, substance abuse programs or therapy. They work with family members and teach them how to offer support or improve parenting skills. Youth correctional counselors also evaluate the child's progress and provide reports that can influence parole decisions.

Salary and Job Growth

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that from 2012-2022, probation officers and correctional treatment specialists would see a job decrease of -1%. Due to lower than normal funding, positions in local and state governments are likely to become stagnant or decrease. In May 2014, the BLS showed that these counselors earned an annual mean wage of just over $53,000. California was the highest paying state, with correctional treatment specialists and parole officers earning an annual mean salary of more than $78,000. California also ranked as the state that employed the largest amount of these professionals with nearly 13,000 workers, which was more than double the amount Texas employed at just under 7,400.

What Are the Requirements?

Education and Qualifications

Although many juvenile corrections facilities require entry-level youth correctional counselors to have at least a bachelor's degree, it is possible to find these positions offered to those with only a high school diploma or equivalent. Employers look favorably on those with an academic background that includes courses in justice administration, juvenile justice or other related studies. Communication skills, both written and verbal, are essential components of this job in order to work with youth, their families, support teams and the court system.

Summaries of Real Job Postings

Job postings for these positions aren't usually found on general career search websites. You'll fare better searching state and local government correctional facility sites when looking for these jobs and the exact titles vary slightly. For example, one facility may need a juvenile case manager, while others will seek a juvenile corrections treatment specialist or youth counselor. The postings below are from May 2012.

  • A New Hampshire facility is looking for a youth counselor to supervise juvenile offenders and act as a part of the treatment team that develops and coordinates treatment and activities. Candidates must complete self-change classes and have group counseling experience. A bachelor's degree in a related field is required; however, experience working with children in sports, youth organizations or similar programs can be substituted for some academics.
  • A case management specialist is needed in Maryland for juveniles in correctional facilities and in pre-trial phases. The specialist will continue to work with children who have been released in an informal after-care situation. A bachelor's degree is required, but an associate's degree and two years of relevant experience can be substituted. A Maryland Correctional Training Commission certification is also required.
  • In California, a youth correctional counselor position can be obtained with either a bachelor's degree or an associate's degree with two years of related experience. Ideally, the candidate will possess a master's degree that included studies in criminal justice and corrections coursework. If accepted, the candidate will attend a training program at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Academy that will last 16 weeks.

How to Stand Out in the Field

Experience

You can gain valuable experience while you're in school through internship programs at juvenile corrections facilities. An internship will prepare to work with youth offenders and allow to gain experience under the supervision of an experienced counselor. In addition to an internship, you might also want to consider volunteer work with local youth organizations, especially if you have an opportunity to work with at-risk children in your area.

Alternative Career Options

Perhaps helping troubled children is a large part of your career goal, but correctional facilities don't suite your ideal work environment. There are similar occupations that will allow you to help in other arenas.

Social Worker

Some social workers may deal specifically with children and help them with personal and social issues. A bachelor's degree is required for the majority of these jobs; however, some of the counseling positions may require a master's degree. Depending on the agency you work for, you may also need licensing or certification. The BLS predicted a faster-than-average growth rate for this career with a 25% increase in opportunities from 2010-2020. In May 2011, the BLS showed that child and family social workers earned an annual mean wage of over $44,000.

School Guidance Counselor

School guidance counselors help a variety of children ranging from those who are already goal-oriented to those who might need a little help finding the right academic and career path. The education requirements are higher, and many schools will require that individuals earn a master's degree. The BLS predicted that school guidance counselors would see a 19% increase in job opportunities through the 2010-2020 decade. In May 2011, the annual mean income for this career choice was almost $57,000, according to the BLS.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master: Criminal Justice
      • Master: Criminal Justice
    Bachelor's
      • BSCJ: Juvenile Justice
      • BS in Corrections
      • BSCJ: Law Enforcement
      • Bachelor: Criminal Justice
    Associate's
      • AAS in Public Safety and Security
      • Associate: Criminal Justice
      • AAS in Criminal Justice and Criminology
      • Associate: Fire Science
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Criminal Justice
      • PhD in Business Admin - Criminal Justice
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Homeland Security: Leadership & Policy
      • PhD in Business Admin - Homeland Security: Leadership & Policy
    Master's
      • MS - Organizational Leadership: Criminal Justice
      • MBA - Criminal Justice
      • MBA - Homeland Security
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Regent University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Law - Criminal Justice
      • Master of Arts in Law - National Security
      • Master of Public Administration - Emergency Management and Homeland Security
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Criminal Justice
      • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
      • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Criminal Justice
      • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice - Corrections
      • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice - Law Enforcement
      • Bachelor of Arts in Law and National Security
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Saint Leo University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BA: Criminal Justice
      • BA: Criminal Justice - Criminalistics
      • BA: Criminal Justice - Homeland Security
    Associate's
      • AA: Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Admin
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Admin
      • Undergraduate Specialization - Criminal Forensics
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Benedictine University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MPH - Emergency Preparedness Focus
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Utica College

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Data Science: Financial Crime
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation
      • BS in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation - Financial Investigation
      • BS in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation - Fraud Prevention and Detection
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    High School Diploma
      • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
      • HS Diploma
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Baker College Online

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Criminal Justice - Bachelor
      • Law Enforcement Academy (Police) - Bachelor
  • Campus Locations:
    10. CDI College

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Diploma in Law Enforcement Foundations

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • Master: Criminal Justice
  • BSCJ: Juvenile Justice
  • AAS in Public Safety and Security

Which subject are you interested in?

Northcentral University

  • Doctor of Business Admin - Criminal Justice
  • PhD in Business Admin - Criminal Justice
  • MS - Organizational Leadership: Criminal Justice
  • MBA - Criminal Justice

What is your highest level of education?

Regent University

  • Master of Arts in Law - Criminal Justice
  • Master of Arts in Law - National Security
  • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

What is your highest level of education completed?

Saint Leo University

  • BA: Criminal Justice
  • BA: Criminal Justice - Criminalistics
  • AA: Criminal Justice

What is your highest level of education completed?

Colorado State University Global

  • MS - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Admin
  • BS - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Admin
  • Undergraduate Specialization - Criminal Forensics

What is your highest level of education?

Benedictine University

  • MPH - Emergency Preparedness Focus

What is your highest level of education?

Utica College

  • MS in Data Science: Financial Crime
  • Bachelor of Science in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation
  • BS in Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation - Financial Investigation

What is your highest level of education completed?

Penn Foster High School

  • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
  • HS Diploma

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