Juvenile Probation Officer Career Guide

Juvenile probation officers (JPO) supervise youth who have been found delinquent or undisciplined in court and who are placed on probation or protective supervision by the presiding judge. They work closely with law enforcement, social services, schools, and parents to help juveniles become successful.

Juvenile Probation Officer Career Description, Duties, and Common Tasks

Juvenile probation officers’ primary task is to supervise the youth on their caseloads for compliance with the court’s orders. Juvenile probation officers conduct regular visits to the juvenile’s home, school, work, and other areas of the community in which the juvenile frequents. The visits may be weekly or monthly depending on the level of supervision imposed by the court. The juvenile probation officer also makes referrals to community resources for interventions for the youth and his/her parents. The JPO may conduct unannounced visits to check compliance with curfew, to conduct random drug screens, and to monitor the whereabouts of the juveniles on his/her caseload. In addition, if the juvenile is placed on electronic monitoring, the JPO will install the equipment, attach the monitor, and track the juvenile’s activities.

How to Become a Juvenile Probation Officer: Requirements and Qualifications

JPOs usually 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. Others may require a master’s degree or a pre-determined length of experience as a probation officer in lieu of an advanced degree. Juvenile probation officers must possess the skills necessary to work with at-risk youth, including:

  • Be familiar with community resources
  • Know how to develop a plan of action that will address the juvenile’s needs
  • Have the ability to work with various government and social agencies
  • Possess a strong understanding of state criminal laws and the state’s juvenile code
  • Be physically fit and mentally stable

Juvenile Probation Officer Job Training

Probation officers’ training depends on for whom they work. In Texas, for example, juvenile intake officers are required to take a 40 hour basic training course through the Correctional Management Institute of Texas. Training covers such topics as the responsibility of probation officers, how to recognize mental health issues in juveniles, legal liabilities, and case planning.

Other Helpful Skills and Experience

Candidates must possess strong communication skills, understand how to interact with adolescents, and be prepared to work with both juveniles and adults, including parents, teachers, and others with whom the juveniles come into contact. Those candidates with previous experience working with children or teenagers, with juvenile offenders, or in a position evaluating young people may have a hiring advantage.

Examples of Possible Job Titles for this Career

  • Juvenile intake officer

Career Opportunities and Employers

Those probation officers who accrue experience and who have an advanced degree, such as a master’s degree, may advance to the position of juvenile probation supervisor or to an administrative position. Youth probation officers typically work for the state.

Juvenile Probation Officer Salary and Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median pay for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists is $48,190 per year.1 Individual salary depends on the location of the position, the types of cases processed, and the individual’s educational and experience levels. For all probation officers and correctional treatment specialists, the BLS expects an employment decrease of 1% for the decade from 2012 to 2022.1 Many of the job openings will be due to replacements for retirement.

Frequently Asked Questions About This Career

What type of hours do juvenile probation officers typically work?
Probation officers generally work a normal 40 hour work week, although at times they may be on call 24 hours a day.

What type of benefits do youth probation officers enjoy?
Benefits may include health insurance, paid leave, dental insurance, and life insurance.

What age are the juveniles with whom youth probation officers work?
The minimum age for youths is generally 10 years old in the United States and the maximum age is typically 18 years old.

Additional Resources

American Probation and Parole Association – An international organization dedicated to training and advocacy for probation and parole officers in both the adult and the juvenile justice systems.

National Partnership for Juvenile Services – A national association promoting education and professional development to those who work with juveniles in the court system.

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention – A resource for those who want to gain a deeper understanding of the juvenile justice system.

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References:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/probation-officers-and-correctional-treatment-specialists.htm
2. Correctional Management Institute of Texas: http://www.cmitonline.org/cal/?mode=view&item=754

Page Edited by Charles Sipe.