Youth Correctional Counselor Career Guide

Youth correctional counselors work in law enforcement to counsel juvenile offenders and their families, acting as a liaison between their clients and the courts, schools, and prisons. They are typically employed by government correctional departments to work in juvenile detention centers or in community programs.

Youth Correctional Counselor Career Description, Duties, and Common Tasks

Youth correctional counselors help rehabilitate young offenders. The counselors generally work in a juvenile correctional facility, such as a detention center, where they supervise the offenders by enforcing discipline, making and maintaining records, and implementing constructive activity programs. Additionally, juvenile correctional counselors advise the juvenile courts about the appropriate destination – such as detainment, care homes, or treatment programs – for young offenders. They also counsel juvenile offenders and their families and provide specialized courses, including addiction recovery and anger management.

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How to Become a Youth Correctional Counselor: Requirements and Qualifications

The minimum requirements for becoming a youth correctional counselor typically include a relevant bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, social work, or counseling. A medical check, a criminal background check with a record clean of felonies, a driver’s license, and the legal right to use firearms are also essential. Military experience, supervisory roles, or other positions of authority are often considered beneficial. The ideal candidate is able to empathize with a juvenile offender’s problems while remaining calm and mature.

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Youth Correctional Counselor Job Training

Juvenile correction counselors generally must complete job training. The specific training required typically depends on the organization that has hired the counselor. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, for example, requires all news hires to attend a mandatory 16 week training academy followed by completing a two year apprenticeship program at the youth facility to which they’ve been assigned. Prospective youth correctional counselors should visit the employment page of the organization for which they would like to work to learn more about specific training requirements. Counselors may also specialize in a specific area, such as providing group therapy, with additional training.

Other Helpful Skills and Experience

Those prospective youth correctional counselors with previous counseling experience or experience with young people in a correctional setting, in law enforcement, or in the criminal justice system may find that experience advantageous when looking for employment. Juvenile correctional counselors must have the keen ability to actively listen, to effectively communicate both orally and in written form, be comfortable interacting with individuals from diverse backgrounds, and work effectively in an often-stressful environment.

Examples of Possible Job Titles for this Career

  • Juvenile correctional counselor
  • Juvenile detention counselor
  • Youth correctional counselor

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Career Opportunities and Employers

State or local governments are the main employers for youth correctional counselors. Those juvenile correctional counselors with extensive experience or an advanced degree may find advancement opportunities in management or administration.

Youth Correctional Counselor Salary and Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t report salary statistics for youth correctional counselors but it does provide information for the related occupation of probation officers and correctional treatment specialists, who earn a median salary of $48,190 per year.1 The BLS projects employment growth of -1% for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists in the decade from 2012-2022.1 Benefits may include health and dental coverage, sick and vacation pay, and educational opportunities. The outlook for juvenile correction counselors is stable with possible growth due to population increases and mandatory sentencing laws.

Frequently Asked Questions About This Career

What type of schedule do juvenile correctional counselors generally work?
Counselors should be prepared to work irregular hours, including nights, weekends, and holidays. Some government agencies hires counselors for day, evening, and night shifts.

With what age group does a juvenile corrections counselor generally work?
Youths are 18 years or younger.

How old do I have to be to become a juvenile correctional counselor
Organizations generally have to be a minimum of 21 years of age.

Do youth correctional counselors carry firearms?
Generally counselors must be able to legally carry firearms as a requirement of the job.

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Additional Resources

American Correctional Association – A Professional Organization for those who “share a common goal for improving the criminal justice system.”

American Counseling Association – A Professional and Educational Resource for Counselors, Including Correctional Counselors.

Correctional Educational Association – A Professional Development and Education Resource for Correctional Professionals.

International Association of Addictions and Corrections Counselors – A Professional Organization for Graduate Students and Correctional Counselors, Providing Educational Resources and Publications.

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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. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Career_Opportunities/POR/YCCIndex.html

Page Edited by Charles Sipe.