What does a Youth Worker do?
Youth workers support young people in their personal, social and educational development to help them reach their full potential in society. This involves planning and delivering programmes, often in partnership with other organisations who engage with young people, in a wide range of areas from health and wellbeing to potentially criminal activity.
What skills does a Youth Worker need?
- Commitment to young people and an understanding of the factors affecting their lives
- The ability to act with integrity in times of stress
- Interpersonal skills, with the ability to establish good relationships with a range of people
- Patience, tolerance and flexibility
- Organisational skills
- Listening skills
- Presentation and report writing skills
- The ability to treat young people's concerns with respect, tact and sensitivity, whilst remaining confidential and professional
How do I become a youth worker?
There a few different routes you can take to become a youth worker:
- University degree
- Applying directly
One way to become a youth worker is to gain a university degree. Many degrees are recognised by the National Youth Agency. Subjects like youth and community, community and youth studies, youth and theology, and informal and community education are particularly useful.
- BA Criminology
- BA Criminology and Sociology
- BSc Psychology
- BSc Professional Policing
- MSc Psychology (Conversion)
You can earn Level 2 or 3 certificates in youth work via an apprenticeship. You will need 5 GCSE grades 9 to 4, including English and Maths or an acceptable equivalent, to be eligible for the diploma.
You can apply directly for a role in youth work if you have relevant experience from similar backgrounds such as career guidance, teaching and community development. If you get this role without any previous experience, the organisation may ask you to complete a postgraduate award in youth work while you are working.
Volunteering is a great way to see if this career path is right for you and it will also look great on your job applications, should you choose to go into this line of work. You can find local volunteering opportunities through Do IT and The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO).
What are the main responsibilities of a youth worker?
- Create programmes for young people in areas such as health, fitness, relationships, bullying, violence, smoking, drugs and gangs.
- Work in partnership with families and other key people in the young person's life, and with professionals from other organisations involved with young people such as, the police, social care, health, education, local authority and youth offending teams to build a strong support network.
- Mentor, coach and support individuals.
- Set up and run art-based activities, community/environmental projects, residential activities, and outdoor and sporting activities.
- Establish boundaries and challenge inappropriate behaviour.
- Build and develop a relationship with young people based on respect and trust, ensuring they have a safe space to develop their identity.
- Apply for project funding.
How much does a youth worker make?
The starting salary for youth support workers (not fully qualified professionals) is between £19,000 and £28,000. Experienced professionals can earn between £25,000 and £42,000. More senior roles vary according to the size of the local authority, but usually exceed £40,000.
For more information on jobs and what to expect from this career, please visit some of the most widely used sites for careers support.