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. 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.
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.
Steps for Becoming a Juvenile Probation Officer
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 number of years of experience as an adult probation officer in lieu of an advanced degree. A minimum age of 21 is usually required. If you plan on becoming a juvenile probation officer, you can expect steps similar to the ones below.
- Obtain a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree in criminal justice or a related field.*
- Apply for a job as a juvenile probation officer.
- Be interviewed for the position.
- Take and pass a drug test and criminal background check.
- Be hired as a juvenile probation officer.
- Complete a state training program and pass a certification exam.**
- Work as a trainee for up to one year before becoming permanent.***
*Check with the job posting to verify the exact educational requirements.
**Not all states require this; check the particular job requirements.
***Check the particular job requirements for more details.
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. 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
Possible Job Titles for This Career
- Juvenile Intake Officer
- Juvenile Parole Officer
- Parole Officer
Juvenile Probation Officer Salary and Job 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.
Interested in a career similar to a juvenile probation officer? Check out these related careers:
- Correctional Treatment Specialist
- Corrections Officer
- Probation Officer
- Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors
- Youth Correctional Counselor
- Police Officer
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: What type of hours do juvenile probation officers typically work?
Answer: 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.
Question: What type of benefits do youth probation officers enjoy?
Answer: Benefits may include health insurance, paid leave, dental insurance, and life insurance.
Question: What age are the juveniles with whom youth probation officers work?
Answer: 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.
- 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.
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/probation-officers-and-correctional-treatment-specialists.htm