CAREER DEVELOPMENT / JUL. 01, 2014
version 4, draft 4

How to Become a Youth and Community Worker

community workers

Youth and community workers provide services that facilitate social, personal and education development in young people, typically aged between 11 and 25. They use a wide variety of informal education activities, such as talent competitions, to help young people reach their full potential in society. If you have strong interpersonal skills and love working with young people, you could become a youth and community worker.

The Work

The duties of youth and community workers often involve the following activities;

  • Interacting with young people to identify their needs
  • Organising informal education activities, such as sports and drama
  • Counseling young people on various issues, including drug abuse and violence
  • Identifying potential funding sources and writing grant applications
  • Supervising volunteers and part-time workers
  • Collaborating with professionals from other organisations, such as local authorities and health care facilities

Work Environment

Youth and community workers are often based in community centers, schools, churches, mosques and local youth clubs. Although weekend and evening work is very common, most full-time workers spend 35 to 37 hours a week on the job.

Detached youth and community workers (those with no specific workplace) usually travel between the various places where young people meet, such as shopping malls and sports stadiums.

Salary

The following table highlights the salaries for youth and community workers at various job levels;

Job Level

Annual Salary

Beginning workers

£14,000 to £19,000

Experienced workers

£20,500 to £30,000

Senior workers

Up to £35,000

Source: National Careers Service

Education and Training

To practice as a youth and community worker in England, you must earn at least a bachelor’s degree in youth work or a closely related field. The degree must be accredited by the National Youth Agency.

Some of the universities offering accredited youth work degrees include;

  • University of Brighton, Brighton
  • Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds
  • University of Cumbria, Cumbria
  • The Open University,

Although each university has its specific entry requirements, you generally need to complete A Level and have the motivation to excel as a youth and a community worker. Some universities may accept applicants with relevant work experience and work-based certifications, such as;

  • Level 2 Award in Youth Work Practice
  • Level 2 Certificate in Youth Work Practice
  • Level 3 Award in Youth Work Practice
  • Level 3 Certificate in Youth Work Practice
  • Level 3 Diploma in Youth Work Practice.

After earning the degree, it is important to gain more experience working with young people before looking for professional employment. If you choose to volunteer, visit the Do-it and Volunteering England websites for more information on volunteering.

Remember, to work with children or young people, you must be cleared by the Disclosure and Barring Service.

Important Skills, Qualities and Competencies

To become an effective youth and community worker, you will need;

  • Superior interpersonal skills to build good relationships with young people
  • Superior active-listening and speaking skills
  • Good planning, negotiating and organising skills
  • A good understanding of children’s interest matters, such as sports and music
  • Motivation to help young people achieve their dreams
  • Sensitivity and ability to relate well with people from diverse cultural backgrounds

Career Progression

Naturally, you will develop more job skills and gain more experience working as a youth and community worker. This is, however, not sufficient to enable you advance in your career. You must, therefore, focus on;

  • Attaining more advanced qualifications, such as a master’s degree in youth and community development
  • Attending training workshops and industry conferences and seminars.

Employment Opportunities

The top employers for qualified youth and community workers include;

  • Local authorities
  • Primary and secondary Schools
  • Residential care facilities
  • Substance abuse hospitals
  • Home healthcare providers
  • Community housing associations

With advanced academic qualifications and vast job experience, you can become a team leader, move into senior management of these organisations or secure a policy making position in a relevant government agency, such as the National Youth Agency.

Finally, becoming a youth worker is not only about pursuing the profession to earn a living, it’s also about making the society a better place for current and future generations.

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