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What Is a Juvenile Justice Specialist and How to Become One

What Does a Juvenile Justice Specialist Do?

A juvenile justice specialist works with youth in the legal system, especially those in custody or on probation. As a juvenile justice specialist, your job duties include supervising youth as they navigate the legal system, providing basic counseling and support, developing treatment plans, and helping young offenders prepare for court. The career typically requires at least a master’s degree in a related field, such as criminal justice, social work, or psychology. Additional qualifications include work experience in the juvenile justice system, strong communication skills, and knowledge of relevant state and federal laws.

How to Become a Juvenile Justice Specialist

The primary qualifications for becoming a juvenile justice specialist depend on the state, but many require a criminal justice degree at the bachelor's or master's level. Some entry-level roles are available with just a high school diploma, but opportunities for advancement may be limited. Previous experience with behavioral science, social work, probation, or custody negotiation can help you stand out from other juvenile justice specialists. Fulfilling the responsibilities and duties of this job requires familiarity with the psychological needs of children, communication skills, and the ability to deal with people from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds. You may need to physically handle escapees and violent or unruly students, so physical fitness and self-defense training are also useful for this job.