How to Become a Child and Youth Worker (With FAQs)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 25, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you enjoy working with children to help them grow and achieve their goals, pursuing a career as a child and youth worker may be a good choice for you. Child and youth workers provide counselling and assistance to children and adolescents in need. Learning more about the position and discovering how to pursue it can help you decide whether it's the best option for you. In this article, we discuss what people in this role do, explain how to become a child and youth worker, and answer frequently asked questions about the position.

What does a child and youth worker do?

Child and youth workers assist and counsel children and adolescents who may be facing challenges in their personal life or at school. Some issues child and youth workers may help adolescents and children with include discrimination, bullying, mistreatment, substance abuse, and family issues. Here are some of their main responsibilities:

  • Interviewing adolescents and children to assess their conditions

  • Organizing group and community meetings to support children

  • Investigating possible cases of child abuse or neglect

  • Creating and implementing social programs

  • Providing testimony as a specialist in court when necessary

  • Helping children find safe foster care

  • Monitoring and assisting with the adoption process

  • Counselling minors in correctional facilities

  • Keeping detailed notes and files on all clients

  • Staying up-to-date with industry trends

Related: 20 Skilled Trade Jobs In Demand

How to become a child and youth worker

If you want to learn how to become a child and youth worker, here are the steps you can follow:

1. Graduate from high school

The minimum requirement to become a child and youth worker is a high school diploma or equivalent, such as a GED. This allows you to apply for a child and youth worker program in college. Different colleges may have different requirements to apply, but many recommend students complete relevant courses, such as psychology and sociology, in high school to help them prepare. You may also need a specific grade to apply for college, so it's important to excel in all your classes.

Related: 21 Jobs That Involve Working With Children (With Salaries)

2. Get a college diploma

You can look for schools with a child and youth worker program that prepares you with the knowledge and skills you can use to excel in the role. Each program is different, but they generally teach students about child and adolescent development, family dynamics, therapeutic activities, and how to design and implement support programs. It takes two to three years to get a college diploma.

Related: How to Become a Child Counsellor (With Salary and Job Outlook)

3. Complete a practicum

Your college program may require you to complete a practicum. This is an opportunity to get field experience in a controlled environment. You may spend an entire semester completing a practicum or do so part-time while you're still attending classes. If your program doesn't offer a practicum, pursuing an internship or volunteer position on your own can be beneficial. It allows you to network and gain experience to strengthen your resume.

Related: What Does a School Social Worker Do? (Duties and Skills)

4. Get a first aid and CPR certificate

Most employers require candidates to have first aid and CPR training in case their clients ever need medical assistance. While employers may offer this training to candidates who don't have it, pursuing it on your own can improve your chances of receiving an invitation to interview. The Canadian Red Cross offers a comprehensive, two-day course that teaches you about standard first aid and CPR. If you pass, you receive a certificate that lasts for three years before you can apply to renew it.

Related: How to List Your Certifications on a Resume

5. Complete a criminal record check

As you're working with children and adolescents, you typically need an up-to-date criminal record check. Employers may want a recent criminal record check, such as one you completed within the last three months, and there are also different types of background checks. This means it may be better to wait to complete this step until you start applying for jobs. You can typically complete a criminal record check at your local police station for a fee.

Related: What Is a Background Check?

6. Update your resume

Once you have the necessary diploma and certification, you can start applying for child and youth worker positions. To do this, you can first update your resume. Start with a professional objective to explain to employers why you're interested in the company and position. Then, discuss your diploma and training to show employers you're qualified to work with children. If you have any work experience, including your practicum or any volunteer work, you can highlight this information.

End your resume with a bullet-point list of relevant skills you have and can apply to the role. To determine which skills to include, assess the company's job posting or description and include keywords they mention. This improves the chance of the hiring manager considering your resume. Try to include unique keywords and information in your resume for every job you apply for, helping you tailor the document to each employer.

Related: What Are Resume Qualities and How to Include Them on Resumes

Frequently asked questions about child and youth workers

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions you may have about how to become a child and youth worker:

What skills and attributes do child and youth workers need?

Here are some skills and attributes a successful child and youth worker may need:

  • Communication skills: Strong communication skills are essential for child and youth workers to interview and assess their clients effectively. These skills help them provide accurate counsel, listen to their clients, and update files and forms.

  • Empathy: Empathy is a person's ability to understand someone else's feelings. Being empathetic helps child and youth workers connect with their clients and offer advice or help that's effective.

  • Organizational skills: Child and youth workers help multiple patients, so being organized is important. It allows them to remember details about each patient, keep organized files, and adhere to deadlines.

  • Problem-solving skills: Children and adolescents typically work with child and youth workers because they have a problem. Having strong problem-solving skills allows them to process these issues and develop unique solutions to help their clients.

  • Decision-making skills: Child and youth workers often make decisions for children and adolescents. These skills help them make informed decisions that benefit their clients.

Related: How to Improve Communication Skills

What are the job prospects for a child and youth worker?

Job prospects for this position vary depending on your province or territory. According to the Canadian Job Bank, here are the job prospects by location:

  • Alberta: Fair

  • British Columbia: Good

  • Manitoba: Fair

  • New Brunswick: Good

  • Newfoundland and Labrador: Fair

  • Northwest Territories: Limited

  • Nova Scotia: Fair

  • Nunavut: Fair

  • Ontario: Fair

  • Prince Edward Island: Fair

  • Quebec: Good

  • Saskatchewan: Fair

  • Yukon: Good

Related: Public Sector Jobs (With Description and Salary Information)

What are other names for this position?

Different employers may use different names to refer to a child and youth worker position. Here are some similar job titles you can consider when applying for work:

  • Caseworker

  • Adolescent counsellor

  • Child protection specialist

  • Adoption agent

  • Adoption coordinator

  • Adoption counsellor

  • Children's counsellor

  • Family advocate

  • Family caseworker

  • Family service worker

  • Adoption social worker

  • Child advocate

  • Case manager

  • Child abuse worker

  • Child welfare counsellor

  • Youth advocate

  • Protective services social worker

Related: What Does a Caseworker Do? (With Requirements and Skills)

What is the work environment like for child and youth workers?

Child and youth workers can work in several environments, such as schools, shelters, group homes, social service agencies, community centres, or correctional facilities. They typically work standard office hours, Monday to Friday, from nine to five, but may work outside of these hours to accommodate their clients' schedules. When child and youth workers aren't meeting with clients, they may be in their office updating patient files, scheduling appointments, or conducting industry research.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions, or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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