Hilbert College Global Online Blog

How to Become a Juvenile Probation Officer

Written by: Hilbert College   •  Feb 8, 2024
A juvenile probation officer sits at a desk and reads a document.

How to Become a Juvenile Probation Officer

Juvenile probation officers can make a significant impact in a young person’s life. They work to help their clients find the right path in life, and provide resources and guidance for matters related to court, family and school. 

Taking on a career as a juvenile probation officer may seem like a challenging path, but individuals who are considering pursuing a criminal justice degree may find their knowledge and skills align with this unique, rewarding role. 

What Does a Juvenile Probation Officer Do?

Juvenile probation officers play a key role in the rehabilitation of young offenders. Their primary goal is to ensure youth who are on probation have the tools and information to meet their court-appointed requirements and improve their lives.

Some key job responsibilities for juvenile probation officers include:

  • Coordinating with teachers and school administrators to help maintain education throughout probation
  • Helping address any family problems that may be causing problems with probation
  • Understanding the ongoing court case and connecting with legal professionals to ensure the young person is properly following the rules of probation 
  • Being empathetic and nonjudgmental toward their clients, including understanding cultural differences and other unique personal aspects that may drive certain behavior
  • Ensuring the young person has access to the services they need where applicable, such as health care and counseling

In addition to an understanding of the legal system and social work, this role requires empathy, strong communication skills, commitment, as well as time management and organizational skills. Juvenile probation officers deal with people from a wide range of cultural, social and economic backgrounds, all of which may continue to have an influence during and after probation. Taking the time to understand their clients’ life stories and personal perspectives can allow juvenile probation officers to give young offenders the best support possible, and help them avoid similar pitfalls in the future.

Steps to Become a Juvenile Probation Officer

Those who are interested in how to become a juvenile probation officer can benefit from understanding the education, experience and other requirements for the role.

1. Earn a Degree

Earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a relevant field, such as social work or psychology, is the first step to becoming a juvenile probation officer. This shows potential employers an individual has the foundational knowledge of criminal justice, human behavior and ethics to benefit them in their professional development.

Individuals who are considering pursuing a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice may consider an online program. These programs may offer a more affordable and flexible option, especially for those who wish to study while maintaining other work and personal obligations.

2. Gain Work Experience

Experience working within the legal or social work systems can boost an individual’s employability and improve their understanding of what it means to work as a probation officer.

Individuals should seek out internships, volunteer work or entry-level job opportunities in social services, law, or corrections. This can provide valuable insights into the juvenile justice system. It can also help in finding opportunities to work closely and directly with at-risk youth, as this will help develop the necessary skills for success in the field.

3. Develop Key Skills

Skills such as communication, patience, organization and empathy are necessary to be a successful juvenile probation officer, as they allow probation officers to connect with young individuals, their families and other criminal justice professionals. These skills also help set individuals apart from other candidates when it comes to interviewing for potential positions. The ability to communicate clearly and empathetically is crucial for understanding and addressing the needs of juvenile offenders.

4. Further Education and Background Checks

Continuous professional development is critical to improving skills and seeking opportunities for career advancement. This can involve anything from taking additional courses to pursuing certification.

Some states mandate certifications such as the Certified Juvenile Probation Officer (CJPO). Individuals should check with their state’s requirements for specific certifications.

Finally, juvenile probation officers can expect to go through background checks and examinations to prove their suitability for a specific role. Employers will be looking for a clean criminal record and commitment to ethical conduct.

Juvenile Probation Officer Salary and Job Outlook

The median annual salary for probation officers in general was $59,860 as of May 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Exact salary may vary depending on several factors, such as years of experience, level of education and the job location.

The BLS projects 3% job growth between 2022 and 2032, which is in line with the predicted average growth for the U.S. job market as a whole during that same time. 

Take the First Step to Become a Juvenile Probation Officer

If you’re wondering what you can do with a criminal justice degree, there are plenty of options for you to put your specialized skills to good use. Becoming a juvenile probation officer is a journey that demands dedication, compassion, and a genuine desire to make a positive impact on the lives of young individuals. 

Hilbert College Global offers an online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice degree program that can prepare you for an impactful career in juvenile justice. Learn more about how Hilbert can help you achieve your professional goals.

Recommended Readings

6 Criminal Justice Career Fields for Graduates

Racial Disparities in Sentencing and Criminal Justice Reform

How to Become a Detective


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists

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