While many youth workers have a degree, relevant work experience and the desire to make a difference in the lives of young people are essential for this job
Youth workers guide and support young people in their personal, social and educational development to help them reach their full potential in society.
You'll generally work with young people aged between 11 and 25 in a variety of settings such as:
As a youth worker, you'll need to:
London area allowances are available.
Income data from the National Youth Agency (NYA) and Community and Youth Workers in Unite - Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) for Youth and Community Workers pay scales. Figures are intended as a guide only.
Working hours are usually around 37 hours per week. It may be necessary to work some evenings and weekends. Part-time work is widely available. Self-employment is possible, especially relating to contract and sessional work, but this is not common.
The minimum qualification required to work as a professional youth worker is a BA (Hons) degree validated by the 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.
Search for postgraduate courses in youth work.
Courses vary in length and are available for both part-time and full-time study as follows:
All courses require you to have substantial field work placements. A few institutions also offer distance learning programmes.
Entry on to an undergraduate degree programme without formal qualifications may be possible if you have substantial relevant experience in youth work and the academic ability to complete the course.
You will need to show:
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.
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 qualifications in Youth Work Practice offered by awarding bodies.
For details of volunteering centres and opportunities in your area visit:
Youth workers are employed in the public sector through local authority provision or via public sector organisations and charities. The main employers are:
Look for job vacancies at:
Newly qualified youth workers train on the job, with the support of experienced colleagues. Employers often provide regular in-service short courses on particular areas of youth work.
The Institute for Youth Work aims to improve quality and support in youth work and promotes a range of events, courses and resources encouraging continuing professional development (CPD). The IYW has a range of membership options but currently only operates in England.
Child protection and safeguarding training is mandatory for all youth workers and is often delivered by local authorities.
For information on relevant training courses available see the following websites:
Additional qualifications are offered in community education or counselling. Postgraduate MA courses in community education are also available. All applicants for such courses are expected to have some previous experience of working in a community setting in either a paid or voluntary capacity.
It may also be possible to take a postgraduate course in related areas such as counselling.
PhDs are also available, looking at youth work issues in an academic context.
As you gain more experience as a youth worker, you may take on a more specialist role working in an area such as mental health or gang prevention, or with particular vulnerable groups.
Although there is no formal qualification required for entry into youth work management, employers usually expect several years' experience as a full-time youth worker, including experience of leading a team of staff. They may also look for a specialist area.
There isn't a clearly defined progression structure above a youth worker role but more common titles denoting additional responsibilities include senior youth worker, youth work manager and youth work project coordinator.
It may be necessary to relocate for promotion due to the small number of senior, principal area youth worker or development officer posts.
Many youth workers have used their experience to move into related jobs such as: