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Juvenile Probation Officer
A juvenile probation officer is in charge of monitoring the activity of teenagers that have been convicted of a crime. The job is similar to that of regular probation officers, except that they only work with juveniles, or youth under the age of 18.
Duties and Responsibilities of a Juvenile Probation Officer
Each officer is assigned a caseload of youth offenders which he or she is required to supervise. Juvenile probation officers are responsible for making sure youth offenders stay out of trouble and follow certain requirements set by the court. Their purpose is to rehabilitate young offenders to help prevent their further involvement in criminal behavior. A probation officer must regularly check in with their wards to make sure that they are not associating with certain peers, using alcohol or drugs, or violating other restrictions placed upon them by parents, social workers or a judge. Officers also make sure that they attend school and follow a curfew.
The average salary of a juvenile probation officer is $45,000, with a chance to earn up to $100,000 for upper management positions. Their job is not for the faint of heart: up to one-third of them report being assaulted at least once during their career. Probation officers must have a desire to work with youths that have serious family and social issues, substance abuse problems, and records of criminal activity.
It’s important that juvenile probation officers have reading, writing, communication, and organizational skills. The ability to prepare time-sensitive materials in a professional manner, as well as the ability to associate in a positive way with juvenile offenders and their families are also necessary. You must be able to write and present court reports summarizing the progress and activities of the juveniles assigned to you. You will provide updated reports, on a regular basis, to a computer database called the juvenile justice information system.
How to Become a Juvenile Probation Officer
Here are five tips on starting your career as a juvenile probation officer:
- If you’re still in high school, make sure your grades in reading, writing, computer technology, psychology, and sociology are good.
- Obtain your bachelor’s degree. Recommended subjects are psychology, criminal justice, social work or a related field.
- Find a part-time job working for a group home or juvenile facility. This will give you hands-on experience working with troubled youth.
- Advanced positions may require further education and training. Many colleges offer master’s programs in law enforcement or other fields.
- Check out online programs. Many different degrees can be earned online.
Many officers choose this career out of a desire to help youths make a course correction in their lives. A lot of officers feel they can do more to help this age group than adult offenders, and possibly prevent one more youth from starting a life of crime that leads to prison.
If you have an interest in criminology and juvenile behavior, and a desire to help enforce the law while helping rehabilitate troubled youth, then a juvenile probation officer might be the right job for you.