A juvenile probation officer supervises young offenders who have been placed on probation, making sure their charges are following court orders related to their adjudication, which may include requirements of attending school, counseling, or drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs.
Juvenile probation officers sometimes also work with adults, but usually focus their efforts on the young, which in some jurisdictions is called “aftercare.” In addition to individual contact with young offenders, juvenile probation officers also work closely with the court by evaluating backgrounds, recommending punishments, and testifying in juvenile proceedings.
Becoming a juvenile probation officer usually requires a bachelor’s degree and passing oral, written, and psychological exams.
A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, social work, psychology, or similar field is usually required for entry-level positions as a juvenile probation officer. Coursework should include instruction on the juvenile justice system and cognitive and behavioral development as well as effective communication skills; officers will be expected to communicate effectively with both the court and adjudicated youth.
Some employers may also require work experience in areas such as corrections, criminal investigations, social work, substance abuse treatment, or counseling. Certification through government-run training programs may also be required, and most probation officers are hired on a trial basis as a trainee for up to a year before being hired for a permanent position.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual wages of probation officers and correctional treatment specialists were $45,910; the middle 50 percent earned between $35,990 and $60,430.
Those employed by state governments averaged $46,580 annually, slightly higher than those who worked for local governments ($46,420). Those in urban areas tend to earn more.
The U.S. Department of Labor predicts “faster than the average” growth for employment of probation officers and correctional treatment specialists with job opportunities expected to be “excellent.”
*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics