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Juvenile probation officers have an important job, working with at-risk youths who have been charged with criminal activity. While these charges are on probation or parole, they require careful supervision. Juvenile probation officers will not only ensure that these probationers are meeting the terms of their sentences, they will also provide assistance and counseling to help the youth make better choices and find their way to a crime-free path in life. If you have a passion for working with at-risk children and teens, this could be the perfect position for you.
A juvenile probation officer is the individual responsible for monitoring youths while they are on probation or parole. If a minor is convicted on a criminal charge, he or she may be released on probation. During this period, it’s critical that the minor be carefully supervised, as continued enrollment is contingent upon good behavior. If the minor violates the terms, he or she is typically remanded to a detention facility.
Parole is similar to probation, but this occurs after an individual has been imprisoned and before the sentence is complete. A minor who exhibits good behavior while in a detention facility may be released early on parole. The release is contingent upon the individual’s good behavior. If terms of parole are violated, the youth will have to return to the detention facility to serve the remainder of his or her sentence.
Juvenile probation officers work exclusively with offenders who are under the age of 18. These are typically teenagers but in rare cases may be offenders who are younger. Many of the duties are the same as with any other probation officer. However, it’s important to adjust your methods and style of relating to your charges in this role, as dealing with younger criminals can present some unique challenges. These officers can help teenagers get back on the right path early, potentially preventing them from committing to a life of crime.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t maintain records specific to juvenile probations officers. However, they do track the job outlook for all probation officers and correctional treatment specialists. For this broad occupational field, the job growth is expected to be about six percent over the 2016 to 2026 decade. This is about average for jobs in the United States.
Dense metropolitan areas typically have higher employment levels for probation officers. You’ll find the highest number of probation officers and correctional treatment specialists in Los Angeles, New York, Houston, Phoenix, and Dallas.
Probation offers are typically employed by the government. About 54 percent of probation officers and correctional treatment specialists work for the state government while 43 percent work for the local government. Just one percent are employed by social assistance programs. While you may have a desk or office where you can keep your files, complete paperwork, and meet with your probationers, a great deal or your work will take place outside the office environment.
Juvenile probation officers are expected to meet their probationers where they are. It’s important to observe the youth in his or her home setting. Juvenile probation officers must search their charges' domicile, bedroom and belongings, check in with school authorities, and speak to parents. It’s critical to see as much of the probationer’s daily life as possible, to best assess whether the individual is meeting the terms of his or her probation or parole. It also offers to determine if counseling or other services might help in improving the charge’s chances of success.
While many employers prefer a bachelor’s degree for a job as a probation officer, there are some places that will hire juvenile probation officers with an associate degree. If you’re interested in this field and want to get started as soon as possible, the criminal justice studies associate degree from Bryant & Stratton College will give you the foundation that you’re looking for to take your first steps toward a career as a juvenile probations officer.
It’s important to gain experience with at-risk youths for this job. With your associate degree, you may want to consider working with a shelter for teens or in a drug abuse counseling center that focuses on helping minors. This type of background is greatly preferred by employers who are hiring juvenile probations officers.
In some states, you will need to further your education and complete a bachelor’s degree to become a juvenile probations officer. Most governments also require these professionals to complete a state-sponsored training program, complete a certification test, and work as a trainee for a minimum of one year.
A criminal justice associate degree can prepare you for many careers. Look for job titles such as:
It’s important to note that information provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is intended for informational purposes only. This is not a guarantee of job opportunities. Rather, it can help you assess the overall landscape in your field of interest.
For more information on your career opportunities with an associate degree in criminal justice studies, check out the criminal justice section of our blog. You’ll find detailed information to help you plan your professional future.