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What Is a Youth Program Director and How to Become One

What Does a Youth Program Director Do?

A youth program director oversees a program that advocates for children within the community. Youth programs exist within social services organizations, community outreach groups, school districts, and municipalities. Your responsibilities in this career primarily revolve around developing the program, creating activities and events for the children in the program, and providing leadership to other staff members. These programs generally have some volunteer members and some paid members. Volunteers often work to mentor children, while paid members are more likely to work with the community to advocate for children.

How to Become a Youth Program Director

The qualifications needed to become a youth program director differ slightly depending on the program. A bachelor's degree is usually required to direct a youth program, as is experience serving in a similar organization, even if that's just on a volunteer basis. Experience in volunteer management, community development, and conflict resolution and a passion for at-risk youth is also crucial for this career. Depending on the area or program in which you work, you may be required to be bilingual to communicate with all community members and program participants. The ability to work with a diverse group of people is also an important aspect of the job.

Where Do Youth Program Directors Work?

Youth program directors work in a variety of settings including churches, municipality facilities, community service groups, advocacy organizations, and more. However, you do not complete all of your duties in an office. You are often out in the community working at events or planning activities for the youth in the program. Some youth program directors may also work at camps for at-risk youth, where they spend their days outside mentoring children and overseeing their team. Your responsibilities are multi-faceted and may take you to a variety of places, but you typically do work out of your office for at least part of your work week.

What Characteristics Do Effective Youth Program Directors Have?

Youth program directors are caring and passionate people who want to make the world a better place. A passion for youth and your community is an essential characteristic for this position. Additional qualities that help you to be effective in completing your job duties are flexibility, leadership skills, interpersonal communication skills, conflict resolution and mediation experience, and an eagerness to learn from children within your program and the community as a whole. Youth program directors have multi-faceted jobs with non-traditional hours spent in non-traditional environments, so being able to juggle projects and stay organized can help you to be effective in this role.