Duties and responsibilities
A juvenile probation officer plays a special role in the criminal justice system by supervising youths (18 or under) who have convicted crimes and are placed on probation. They work closely with law enforcement, social services, schools and parents to help keen these young offenders on the right track. Their typical duties and responsibilities include:
- Monitoring the young offenders compliance with court-ordered terms and conditions of probation
- Attending dispositions and evidentiary hearings
- Meeting with offenders, and their family, and instructing them in probation obligations, regulations and practices
- Establishing and maintaining a case file on each offender
- Preparing and presenting reports to Court on offenders compliance with probation
- Administering drug and alcohol testing where required
- Preparing referrals for mental health, counseling, substance abuse, or other evaluations and treatments and monitors attendance at and progress of treatment
To become a juvenile probation officer, you will need a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as social work, criminal justice or behavioural science. After this, you will need to complete a training program sponsored by the state or federal government. Finally, at the end of this training, you will be expected to pass a certification test.
As juvenile probation officer are specialized, they may need to undergo further education and training.
Skills and relevant work experience
As well as the educational requirements juvenile probation officers will need skills such as:
- Decision making skills, as they will often need to be able to make effective, on the spot, decisions that have the best interest of the young offender in mind
- Social perceptiveness and open-mindedness as juvenile probation officers will have to work with lots of different people from different religions, cultures and backgrounds
- Empathy as juvenile probation officer will work with young people who have had challenging lives and will need to offer them the deepest understanding and the ability to relate to their feelings
- Active listening as juvenile probation officers need to build relationships based on trust and respect
- Communication skills, both written and verbal, as juvenile probation officers will need to clearly communicate their ideas with other professionals, the offender and their family. They will also need to keep up-to-date and detail documentation
Juvenile probation officers will normally work normal full-time hours. However, some juvenile probation officers may have to work weekends or evenings. They may also be on call and therefore have to be available to attend any issue 24 hours a day. Due to understaffed probation services, juvenile probation officers may have to work overtime too.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for a probation officer was $54,290 in 2019. The lowest 10% earned less than $36,370 and the highest 10% earned more than $94,860. Juvenile probation officers can expect to earn in the region.
The employment of all probation officers is projected to grow 4 percent from 2018 to 2028, about as fast as all occupations. This is because, in many cases, rehabilitation is far more economically viable than incarceration. Juvenile probation officers can progress, with additional training, to more senior positions. Such positions include Senior Probation Officer or a team lead.