Job descriptions and industry overviews

Youth worker: job description

21 Jun 2023, 15:40

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

young people to represent youth/youth workers

What does a youth worker do? Salaries | Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Skills

Youth workers work directly with children and young people, helping them to build life skills and confidence, develop healthy relationships and make decisions that are right for them.

Typical responsibilities include:

  • learning about the area in which your projects take place, and the needs of young residents
  • setting up and running projects and programmes of activities for young people
  • providing opportunities for young people to talk openly and confidentially
  • developing and implementing ways to involve young people in projects – for example, by providing feedback or being involved in decision
  • directing young people to sources of advice
  • identifying concerns about young people involved in programmes and following these up
  • managing budgets
  • applying for project funding
  • maintaining confidential records
  • writing and presenting reports
  • recruiting and managing staff, including volunteers
  • facilitating workshops in schools and community settings
  • working with other organisations, such as schools, community groups and the police.

You may need to work outside traditional ‘office’ hours – for example, if youth groups meeting in the evening or if projects run at weekends.

Graduate salaries

According to Reed, starting salaries for qualified youth workers are around £25,000. Salaries for those who are not fully qualified tend to start around £19,000. Typically, salaries are not open to negotiation by individuals: they’re agreed by a central body and are based on a series of grades that increase with experience and training. As you gain experience and complete on-the-job training, your earnings will increase – salaries could rise to around £40,000 for some more professional and managerial positions.

Typical employers of youth workers

  • Local authorities.
  • Schools and pupil referral units.
  • Voluntary organisations and charities.
  • Youth centres.

Vacancies are advertised on careers services and university departments. You can also find them on local authorities' and charities' websites and social media and on specialist jobs boards. You could search community news sources too, such as social media groups, charity newsletters and noticeboards in community venues.

Qualifications and training required

There are routes into youth work for school leavers and graduates.

Graduates need a degree or a postgraduate level qualification accredited by the National Youth Agency (NYA). 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 centre .

If you don't have an accredited degree, you can work at the same time as gaining qualifications through an apprenticeship in youth work. You could also work as a youth support worker – there are apprenticeships relating to this role, too.

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:

  • the ability to listen without judgement
  • the ability to be sensitive in difficult situations
  • excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • organisational skills
  • budgeting and project management skills
  • the ability to encourage and inspire others
  • the ability to keep up to date with the law and how it affects young people

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