What Does a Youth Worker Do? A Complete Guide to the Role
If you like working with people and improving their lives, you may consider becoming a youth worker. A career as a youth worker can be satisfying, as their goal is to help young people and provide support in different aspects. Understanding the job duties and other aspects of the career can help you make the right choice. In this article, we discuss what does a youth worker do, explore the salary, work environment and skills required for the profession and describe the steps to become a youth worker.
What does a youth worker do?
To answer the question, " What does a youth worker do?", here's a list of the primary duties of a youth worker:
assessing the needs of youths and mentoring and counselling them
developing close relationships with youths based on respect and trust
arranging schedules and maintaining confidential records of counselling sessions
working closely with family members and close friends of youths and professionals from other organisations
setting up and running workshops, events and shared activities
encouraging youths to take part in planning activities, community or educational projects
pitching new ideas for activities and projects
advocating, addressing and educating on youths' interests, influences and issues
developing collaboration on community resources, services and facilities
recruiting, training and managing staff and volunteers
facilitating workshops in schools, universities and community centres
undertaking administrative tasks such as applying for project funding and budgeting
writing reports on completed workshops and activities
attending regular development and training opportunities to stay updated on health and safety issues
travelling to various locations for events or meetings
What is a youth worker?
A youth worker is a professional in the social welfare industry who guides and supports young individuals aged between 11 to 25, to promote their personal, educational, social and professional development. Youth workers organise a range of positive and engaging activities for young people to explore issues affecting them daily. This helps youth learn more about their skills, interests and values. Through their intervention, youngsters can build confidence and life skills to seek opportunities and make a successful transition to adulthood.
Examples of focus areas for youth workers include providing education on teenage pregnancy, health issues, relationships, educational advancement and professional success. Youth workers also conduct administrative tasks, such as managing the facilities in which they work and planning projects for clients.
The average salary of youth worker
Youth workers who work in the government sector earn salaries according to the master pay scale (MPS) of social workers. The salary of an assistant social work officer ranges from points 16 to 33 on the MPS, translating to $33,350 to $73,773 per month. The salary of social work officers ranges from points 34 to 39 on the MPS, which translates to a range of $74,515 to $89,845 per month. The salary of senior social work officers ranges from points 40 to 44 on the MPS, translating from $93,710 to $110,170 per month.
The average salary of youth workers who work in the private sector differs according to the type, size and location of the organisation and individual qualifications and experience.
The work environment of youth workers
Youth workers may work in the government sector or in the private sector. Some organisations that they work at include:
international non-profit organisations
churches or other religious organisations
Youth workers work both outdoors and indoors. They conduct administrative duties, plan, research and draw budgets and hold counselling sessions in offices or community centres. Sometimes, youth workers also visit the homes of youngsters and take part in activities outdoors. Youth workers typically work normal business hours from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, although they may occasionally work overtime or on weekends to attend events and pay home visits.
How to become a youth worker
If you have an interest in becoming a youth worker, here are the typical steps to follow:
1. Obtain an educational qualification
The qualifications for youth worker jobs in the government sector vary according to the seniority of the role. Less senior roles require at least a bachelor's degree in a related major such as social work, social science or psychology. More advanced positions require a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in social work or a related subject. There are several universities that offer these programmes, but it's important to check that the Social Workers Registration Board recognises the university you wish to join to be eligible to register as a social worker.
The qualifications required for youth worker positions in the private sector vary from one organisation to another. Some employers require a bachelor's degree, associate's degree or diploma in social work or related subjects. Others require a minimum of a Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE) or Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE). Regardless of which sector you intend to join, it's important to hold at least one locally recognised educational qualification for employers to consider you for youth worker positions.
2. Build up volunteer or work experience
Most employers prefer candidates who have at least six months or a year of experience working with youths. During your secondary school or university studies, you can build experience by participating in volunteer programmes targeted towards the youth. For instance, you can volunteer to act as a mentor in your community or at a religious organisation. You can also join social work student clubs to take part in organising activities and workshops targeted towards the youth.
When building your experience, it's important to consider which area you want to specialise in and which group of youth you want to work with. Then, join volunteer programmes and student clubs that cater to your preferred specialisation.
3. Become a registered social worker
It's not completely necessary to be a registered social worker to get a youth worker job, but doing so can increase the number of job opportunities available to you. If you're a registered social worker, you may also be eligible for higher paying jobs. To become one, you can submit an online or an in-person application to the Social Workers Registration Board along with supporting documents such as your academic qualifications and a copy of your Hong Kong identity card.
If you haven't graduated from university yet, you can prove your education by submitting a testimonial, transcript or letter of certification from your university. If your application is successful, you receive an approval letter, a certificate of registration and a registration card. When your current registration card expires, you can apply for a renewal.
4. Apply to jobs
Once you have obtained an educational qualification and built up experience, you can start applying for youth worker jobs in either the public or private sector. If you wish to work in the public sector, you can find youth worker positions on the government's labour website. If you wish to work in the private sector, you can look for jobs on regular online job search platforms, social media platforms, websites of specific organisations or in newspapers and magazines.
Before applying for any jobs, customise your CV and cover letter to each job posting and include keywords from the job description. This ensures your CV attracts the attention of the hiring managers and they contact you to schedule an interview.
Important skills of a youth worker
The essential qualities of a youth worker are patience, creativity and energy. Hiring managers look for candidates who are non-judgemental, mature and sensitive. Other highly employable qualities include:
Reliability: A youth worker provides reliable support and acts as a trustworthy confidant and mentor.
Integrity: The work of a youth worker can be stressful and, in these situations, it's important to act with integrity and maintain composure. Youth workers treat young people with respect, sensitivity and tact, regardless of the circumstances.
Open-mindedness: It's important to have an open mind when interacting with youth from different backgrounds. A willingness to try new things and understand their point of view is also important in supporting their development.
Communication skills: Good written, verbal and listening skills help with mentoring, funding applications, presentations and report writing.
Interpersonal skills: Strong interpersonal skills are essential for youth workers to connect and maintain relationships with young people.
Confidentiality: A youth worker adheres to confidentiality obligations and the boundaries of the youth and youth worker relationship at all times.
Multilingualism: The ability to speak several languages can assist in building relationships with youngsters from different ethnic groups.
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed. Salary figures reflect data listed on the quoted websites at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.