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Juvenile Probation Officer Career Guide

Juvenile probation officers (JPO) supervise youth who have been accused or convicted of crimes and are subsequently placed on probation or under protective supervision. JPOs 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 and ensure 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 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 an adult probation officer in lieu of an advanced degree. Juvenile probation officers must possess the skills necessary to work with at-risk youth, including:

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

Juvenile Probation Officer Job Training

Probation officers’ training depends on the agency for which 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. Candidates with previous experience working with children or teenagers, with juvenile offenders, or in a position evaluating young people may have an advantage in the hiring process.

Examples of Possible Job Titles for this Career

  • Juvenile intake officer
  • Juvenile parole officer

Career Opportunities and Employers

Probation officers who accrue experience and 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 US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the median pay for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists is $49,360 per year.1 Individual salary depends on the location of the position, the types of cases processed, and the individual’s education and experience levels. For all probation officers and correctional treatment specialists, the BLS expects an employment increase of 4% for the decade from 2014 to 2024.1 Many of these job openings will be due to replacements as older officers retire.

Frequently Asked Questions About This Career

What type of hours do juvenile probation officers typically work?

Probation officers generally work a 40 hour work week, but commonly this includes working during the evenings and weekends. Probation officers are also on call 24 hours a day should the juveniles under their supervision be involved in an emergency, violate the terms of probation, or commit a crime.

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 to be placed under probation is generally 10 years old in the United States and the maximum age is typically 18 years old.

Additional Resources

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1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/probation-officers-and-correctional-treatment-specialists.htm