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Youth workers plan, organise and oversee community programmes aimed at young people.

What does a youth worker do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Youth workers work directly with children and young people, helping them to build life skills, develop healthy relationships and make decisions that are right for them. Youth workers are often involved in projects and activities such as sport and performing arts.

Typical responsibilities include:

  • setting up and running projects
  • mentoring or counselling individual young people
  • managing budgets
  • applying for project funding
  • maintaining confidential records
  • writing and presenting reports
  • facilitating workshops in schools and community settings
  • working with other organisations, such as schools, community groups and the police.

Typical employers of youth workers

  • Local authorities
  • Voluntary organisations and charities

Vacancies are advertised on local authorities' and charities' websites and social media. Look in community news sources too, such as social media groups, charity newsletters and noticeboards in community venues.

Qualifications and training required

You need specialist qualifications to become a youth worker – for example, a degree accredited by the National Youth Agency (NYA) or a postgraduate level qualification. You'll need relevant work experience to get onto a course, and to check that this career is right for you. Experience can be paid or voluntary – look for projects and placements through your university or local volunteer bureau.

If you don't have an accredited degree, you can work as a youth support worker and study on the job for qualifications in youth work practice. There are other routes into youth work if you don't have a degree: take a look at the public sector section of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers.

Key skills

Recruiters look for candidates who are confident working with young people in difficult situations, and who are sensitive and non-judgmental.

Other essential skills and qualities include:

  • organisation skills
  • excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • a mature attitude
  • reliability
  • resilience
  • the ability to keep up to date with the law and how it affects young people.

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