Since September 2010, the minimum qualification required to work as a professional youth worker has been a BA (Hons degree) validated by the National Youth Agency (NYA) .
Professional training is also available at postgraduate level for those with a degree in a subject other than youth work. Visit the NYA website for a list of validated undergraduate and postgraduate courses.
The Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) for Youth and Community Workers endorses youth and community workers’ qualifications that have been professionally approved by the NYA. Successful completion of a validated undergraduate or postgraduate course confers professional youth worker status. JNC qualifications are often requested by employers and the JNC also sets the pay scales and conditions for youth workers.
Courses vary in length and are available for both part-time and full-time study as follows:
All courses require the completion of substantial field work placements. A few institutions also offer distance learning programmes. Course titles vary to reflect the diverse role of a youth worker and can include youth and community, childhood and youth studies, community and youth studies, and information and community education.
Entry on to an undergraduate degree programme for those without formal qualifications may be possible with substantial relevant experience in youth work and the intellectual ability to complete the course. Contact individual institutions for full details of entry requirements.
In 2011, revised youth support worker qualifications came in to replace the previous NVQ/VRQ levels 2 and 3. These new courses on the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) are still at levels 2 and 3, and are aimed at those already employed in youth work and who have an assisting or supporting role.
To find out about professional validation of courses in Scotland, contact the Standards Council for Community Learning and Development (CLD) for Scotland ; for Wales, contact the ETS Wales at the Welsh Government ; and for Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, contact the Youth Council for Northern Ireland (YCNI) .
Substantial youth and community work experience (either paid or voluntary) is vital for entry to professional training. Most entrants gain experience by volunteering, often gaining an initial certificate via local training provision.
Candidates will need to show evidence of the following:
Having an interest in or talent for sport or performing arts can be helpful. A second language can be useful, particularly if you intend to work with a relevant ethnic group.
Contact your local youth service (local authority in Scotland) or voluntary bodies to arrange voluntary or part-time sessional work. See the Volunteering England website for details of volunteer bureaux in your area, or visit the Volunteer Scotland , Volunteering Wales or Volunteer Now (Northern Ireland) websites.
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