Youth Probation Officer Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

About this article
What are the pros and cons of a youth probation officer career? Get real job descriptions, career outlooks and salary info to see if becoming a youth probation officer is right for you.
View available schools

Pros and Cons of Being a Youth Probation Officer

As a youth probation officer, you'll have the opportunity to work with juveniles who have committed crimes and monitor them as they re-enter society. Check out these pros and cons to see if becoming a youth probation officer is a good fit for you.

Pros of Being a Youth Probation Officer
Opportunity to positively influence young adults who have a criminal past*
Chance to help keep a community safe and crime free*
Steady employment due to continued demand for probation officers to manage alternative forms of punishment, such as probation*
Able to earn a decent salary (median salary of $49,000 in May 2014)*

Cons of Being a Youth Probation Officer
Long hours and demanding schedules are common*
Pressure to make sure offenders rehabilitate and do not repeat crimes*
Frequently need to work in high-crime, dangerous communities*
Work can be emotionally draining and tiring*

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

Career Info

Job Description

Youth probation officers work with children and teenagers who have spent time in a juvenile hall or a detention center and have been released on probation. Youth probation officers frequently work for the government, whether it's at the state or local level. As a youth probation officer, you will work with a group of juvenile offenders and monitor them as they regain their freedom and adjust to daily life. Part of your duties will be to evaluate the offenders to understand what sort of resources they need, whether it's therapy, employment, housing or substance abuse programs.

You'll need to regularly check in with your offenders and organize meetings with families and friends to help with the rehabilitation process. Your work may also include writing reports and testifying before judges on the progress that individuals are making. It's also common for youth probation officers to conduct curfew checks or visit the home, school and work to track the offenders.

Career Growth and Salary Stats

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that there will be a 1% decline in employment from 2012 to 2022. However, the BLS finds that the employment of youth probation officers may increase as the judicial system turns more to probation as a way to help offenders change their behavior. Also, it's expected that a high number of probation officers will retire in the near future, creating a need to fill numerous open positions.

The BLS finds that probation officers earned a median salary of $48,000 in May 2014, which amounts to an hourly rate of $23.00. In general, probation officers can earn as much as $84,000 annually or as little as about $33,000, the BLS reports.

Education Requirements

You'll need to hold a bachelor's degree that relates to criminal justice or law enforcement before you can become a youth probation officer. A degree program in criminal justice generally takes four years to complete and teaches you about the criminal justice system. You'll understand concepts like criminology, corrections and the rehabilitation process.

A key part of a criminal justice degree program will focus on crime prevention and how you can work with offenders and the general community to promote safety. Along with your classroom studies, your college may also require you to engage in field work at a probation or detention center as a way for you to gain professional experience.

Certification

Requirements vary from state to state; however, you will likely need to undergo a training program and become certified as a probation officer in your state. For example, you may be required to enroll in a six-week training academy that teaches you how to effectively serve as a youth probation officer. You'll understand how to use firearms, restraint and self-defense tactics, as well as how to work with offenders. Once you finish the training program, you will likely need to pass a state examination that tests your knowledge of the justice system and abilities as a probation officer.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Youth probation officers are in high demand across the country. State or local government justice agencies that need officers to monitor juveniles as they leave the corrections system. Employers typically look for applicants with experience in the field, a bachelor's degree and excellent communication skills. Check out these job openings posted in April 2012:

  • A department of juvenile justice in Virginia is looking for a probation officer who can work with high-risk juvenile offenders. You'll need to understand how social problems affect youth, and the employer requires candidates to hold previous experience working with juvenile offenders and within the general corrections system.
  • A justice department in California is hiring for a probation correctional officer who can counsel juveniles as they learn the corrections system. You'll need to regularly monitor juvenile offenders and connect them with the resources they need. The job requires a bachelor's degree and professional experience.
  • An office of juvenile justice in Louisiana seeks a probation and parole officer who can work with juvenile offenders, district attorneys, the court system and families of offenders. You'll need a bachelor's degree, but professional experience may be considered instead of academic experience.

How to Get an Edge in the Field

Among the most common ways to gain an edge in the field is through on-the-job experience. However, you have other options to get ahead as well. The American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) regularly offers conferences and workshops for probation officers who want to learn new skills. Through these institutes, you'll be able to network with fellow probation officers and learn about new research and techniques to serve juvenile offenders. There are also online seminars offered by the APPA for probation officers who prefer to use their computer to access information about new trends in the probation sector.

Alternative Career Fields

Social and Human Services Assistant

If you aren't ready to become a youth probation officer, you may want to consider a career as a social and human service assistant. In this role, you'll be able to help people who are living with emotional and personal struggles. You'll need at least a high school diploma to become an assistant. In addition, the BLS finds that the employment of social and human services assistants should grow by 28% from 2010-2020; this is considered faster than the average rate. The BLS also reported that social and human service assistants earned a median salary of about $28,700 per year.

Police Officer or Detective

Another option is to become a police officer or a detective. With this career, you'll serve a community by protecting them and keep people safe from crime. You'll need to go through a good amount of training to become a police officer, which includes a bachelor's degree and time at a police academy. Although police officers and detectives are able to earn a salary of about $55,010 a year, the job outlook is expected to be slow, the BLS reports. From 2010 to 2020, employment opportunities are expected to increase seven percent for police officers and detectives, according to the BLS.

Correctional Officer

You may also want to consider a career as a correctional officer. This will give you the chance to work within a detention center or jail, which means you'll work directly with inmates who have been punished for their crimes. You need at least a high school diploma and there is some on-the-job training that comes with the career. The job outlook for correctional officers isn't as strong as it is for probation officers. The BLS reports a five percent growth in the field between 2010 and 2020. Correctional officers earned a median annual salary of about $39,900 per year in 2011.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Saint Joseph's University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Criminal Justice
      • MS in Criminal Justice Intelligence & Crime Analysis
      • MS in Criminal Justice Behavior Analysis
      • MS in Criminal Justice Homeland Security
      • MS in Criminal Justice Federal Law Enforcement
      • MS in Criminal Justice Behavior Management
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • 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
    3. Baker College Online

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Criminal Justice - Bachelor
      • Law Enforcement Academy (Police) - Bachelor
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Post University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. in Criminal Justice
    Associate's
      • A.S. in Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Argosy University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor - Business Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    6. 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
    7. 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
    8. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Project Management and Public Safety Leadership
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Public Safety Leadership
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.A. - Criminal Justice
      • B.A. - Homeland Security
    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts - Criminal Justice
      • Associate of Arts - Homeland Security
  • Online Programs Available
    10. University of the Southwest

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA - Law Enforcement & Corrections

Featured Schools

Saint Joseph's University

  • MS in Criminal Justice
  • MS in Criminal Justice Intelligence & Crime Analysis
  • MS in Criminal Justice Behavior Analysis

What is your highest level of education completed?

Kaplan University

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

Which subject are you interested in?

Baker College Online

  • Criminal Justice - Bachelor
  • Law Enforcement Academy (Police) - Bachelor

What is your highest level of education?

Post University

  • B.S. in Criminal Justice
  • A.S. in Criminal Justice

Education Level:

Argosy University

  • Bachelor - Business Administration

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?

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?

Herzing University

  • MBA Dual Concentration: Project Management and Public Safety Leadership
  • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Public Safety Leadership

What is your highest level of education?