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Juvenile Probation Counselor Career Guide

Juvenile probation counselors, or intake counselor, evaluate complaints filed by law enforcement agencies, parents, educators, or others in the community who allege a juvenile has committed a criminal or status (one that only a minor can be charged with) offense. Their goal is to determine whether additional court interventions are necessary or if the matter can be diverted from court. They work closely with law enforcement, social services, schools, and parents to help juveniles become successful.

Juvenile Probation Counselor Career Description, Duties, and Common Tasks

The juvenile probation counselor (JPC) evaluates complaints filed against the juvenile. The process begins with the JPC scheduling an appointment to meet with the juvenile and his/her family to gather additional information and to explain the juvenile court process. The JPC may also schedule an appointment with the complainant to discuss the process and to gather more information. The first appointment with the juvenile and his/her family is called the intake appointment. The JPC will explain the charges, diversions to court that may be available, and the court process if the case is to be forwarded to court for further interventions. If the case is referred to court, the counselor prepares the initial court report that includes a summary of the charges, information gathered at intake, and recommendations for interventions.

How to Become a Juvenile Probation Counselor: Requirements and Qualifications

Juvenile probation counselors generally work for the state and most states require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, social work, psychology, education, or human services. Successful JPCs must also be familiar with community resources and how to develop a plan of action that will address the needs of the juvenile. Juvenile probation counselors must be able to work with various government and social agencies.

Juvenile Probation Counselor Job Training

Training for probation counselors generally depends on the hiring organization. However, counselors may complete on the job training with a mentor before being assigned to work alone with clients.

Other Helpful Skills and Experience

Prospective juvenile probation counselors with previous counseling experience or experience with juveniles in a correctional setting or in law enforcement may have an advantage during the hiring process. Counselors must possess sound judgment and must be able to communicate effectively both verbally and in written form.

Examples of Possible Job Titles for this Career

  • Youth corrections counselor
  • Youth correctional counselor
  • Youth probation counselor

Career Opportunities and Employers

Probation counselors typically work for the state or local governments. Those counselors who accrue experience and/or who earn an advanced degree, such as a master’s degree, may advance to supervisory or management positions.

Juvenile Probation Counselor Salary and Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that probation officers and correctional treatment specialists earn a median salary of $48,190 per year.1 Individual salary depends on the location of the position, the types of cases processed, and education and experience levels. The BLS estimates that employment for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists will decrease by 1% during the decade from 2012-2022.1 Positions will become available due to retirements.

Frequently Asked Questions About This Career

What type of hours do probation counselors generally work?

Counselors typically work a full-time schedule, although hours may be irregular, including nights, weekends, and holidays.

How old are the juveniles with whom counselors generally work?

Youths are typically 18 years or younger. However, a juvenile may be charged as an adult and proceedings may occur in the adult court system.

What is the minimum age requirement for probation counselors?

While all agencies have their own rules, counselors who work with the state generally must be at least 21 years of age.

Additional Resources

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1. Bureau of Labor Statistics: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/probation-officers-and-correctional-treatment-specialists.htm