How do I Become a Juvenile Counselor?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 25 January 2020
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A juvenile counselor works in many settings helping or supervising youths facing challenges, and setting of work may, in part, determine what it takes to become a juvenile counselor. This career can have different requirements depending upon each job, and these don’t only vary by job type, but also by region. The best bet when people plan to work in a specific area is to contact local agencies that employ these counselors like juvenile correctional facilities, group homes, and courts and ask what minimum hiring requirements are upheld. This article gives general information about this career path, but people looking for sure success in being ready to take one of these jobs need to do some regional research.

In some cases the requirements to become a juvenile counselor are relatively minimal. Youth correctional facilities or “juvenile halls” may hire counselors who possess a high school diploma, and who have had four or more years of training working with juveniles. Another potential scenario is that people have finished a couple of years of college and found work with kids for a couple of years beyond college training. In this second scenario, an A.A. or studies in psychology or social work could be highly appropriate.


Many jobs require additional training prior to hire. Most often, people cannot become a juvenile counselor without a bachelor’s degree. Typical majors would include psychology or social work. Employers may require some work with youths after getting a degree, and while this work need not include the juvenile counselor title, it needs to include work with youths.

Criminal justice is potential bachelor’s degree major for someone wishing to become a juvenile counselor. This major is intended for a specialized group of counselors that advise youths facing criminal charges. People interested in pursuing this type of counseling usually become what is called juvenile court counselors.

A counselor need not stop at earning a bachelor’s degree, and might get a master’s or doctorate to become a licensed therapist. A master’s degree in social work, professional counseling or marriage and family therapy could allow a juvenile counselor to practice outside of the normal settings, and to either maintain a private practice or work for some private agencies. A person who earns a PhD or Psy.D in psychology also has the option to become a juvenile counselor, or incorporate counseling of youths with severe problems into a private practice.

Since many counselors work in settings like correctional facilities, there can be an increased level of risk that dangerous moments occur on the job. To become a juvenile counselor, people may need additional training in how to respond to emergencies or restraining youths who are out of control. First aid training could be required too, or at minimum, counselors might need to be trained in CPR.


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