There are many different types of juvenile justice careers. An individual wishing to pursue a career in this field will typically have an overall interest in working in the justice system. Additionally, there may be a particular desire to work primarily with juveniles facing charges for criminal offenses. Some common juvenile justice careers include a judge, juvenile court attorney, juvenile probation officer, and a counselor.
A career in juvenile justice will include working closely with troubled youths in a variety of different settings. The juvenile justice system was established as a means to discipline underage individuals who commit crimes, but are not old enough to be tried as adults; a juvenile crime is punishable under a different set of laws. The age criteria for distinguishing an individual as a juvenile varies by region. Individuals wishing to pursue a juvenile justice career will need to be well versed in juvenile criminal law.
Judges hold one of the highest careers in the juvenile justice system. This career choice includes presiding over criminal juvenile cases and deciding on the best course of punishment for such crimes. A juvenile judge may have a special interest in rehabilitating minors. In order to become a judge, a college degree and some type of graduate degree, including a degree in law, will typically be required.
After being charged with a crime, an attorney may be one of the first people a troubled juvenile may contact for help. An attorney may represent a juvenile and speak on his or her behalf when going before a judge in a court of law. At least a bachelor's degree will be required to become an attorney, and often graduate degrees are also part of the course of study. In addition to being a lawyer, law clerks and paralegals may be possible juvenile justice careers.
Freedom, within limitations, may be granted to a youth guilty of committing a crime by being placed on probation. These restrictions will be monitored by a juvenile probation officer. These probation officers will supervise and monitor activities of a juvenile and the youth, in return, will have to report to the probation officer at specific times. An associate degree, certification, and an amount of experience in criminology, juvenile justice, and correctional administration may be required to become a probation officer.
Juvenile justice careers can also include counselors. A counselor may be assigned to a juvenile in trouble with the law to learn more about all aspects of the individual's life, as well as his or her overall emotional and mental health. Typically, an individual in this career will have bachelor's or master degree. Many counselors are licensed and may work along side a probation officer to oversee the well-being of a juvenile on probation.
The work environment for careers in juvenile justice can vary. Some careers, such as a judge or juvenile court attorney, may involve work primarily in a court room. Other career choices, such as a counselor, may mean working in an environment such as a detention center. Some degree of secondary education is typically be required for many juvenile justice careers. Educational and work experience requirements should be researched in advance when pursing a career in juvenile justice.