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Study Youth Work, why & how to study

It may be challenging, but Youth Work is a rewarding subject area that trains you to make positive changes in society.

Happy young adult friends, arms around shoulder.


  1. What’s Youth Work?

  2. What Youth Work degrees can you study?

  3. What do you need to get onto a Youth Work degree?

  4. What topics does a Youth Work degree cover?

  5. How will you be assessed?

  6. Why study Youth Work?

  7. What do Youth Work graduates earn?

  8. What jobs can you get as a Youth Work graduate?

  9. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

  10. Similar subjects to Youth Work

  11. Have any questions?

What’s Youth Work?

Youth workers help facilitate personal, social and educational growth in young people to help them reach their full potential in society. At its core, Youth Work is about the relationship and conversations built up between a youth worker and a young person.

Youth Work focuses explicitly on making a positive difference in the lives of young people. Rather than the more formal Psychology or Counselling approaches, Youth Work is more about the social and active aspects of support.

What Youth Work degrees can you study?

A very flexible and adaptable degree, Youth Work can be easily studied part-or full-time. Examples of undergraduate degrees include:

  • Physical Education and Youth Sport BSc
  • Youth Work and Community Development BA
  • Education Studies: Youth and Community Work BA
  • Youth Justice BA

Options may include an integrated foundation year or top-up degree. Many courses offer valuable on-the-job experience.

What do you need to get onto a Youth Work degree?

Most undergraduate Youth Work courses ask for between 80–128 UCAS points. Not every university will base their offer on UCAS points and some courses may have lower or higher requirements. Qualifications may include:

  • A Levels: ABB–CDD
  • Scottish Highers: ABBB–BBCCC (Advanced Highers: CCD)
  • International Baccalaureate: 34–24

Experience that would look good on your application:

  • Work experience or shadowing in third sector organisations that provide youth work, or in schools as a teaching assistant
  • Volunteering at local youth clubs or in schools

Other requirements for this subject include:

  • Due to the nature of this work, you’ll need to complete Disclosure and Barring Services (DBS) checks (PVG scheme in Scotland)

What topics does a Youth Work degree cover?

Typical modules for courses in this subject include:

  • Contemporary issues for young people
  • Equality, diversity and inclusion
  • Ethical leadership, management and supervision
  • Leadership and project management
  • Managing difficult situations
  • Policy, practice and legislation
  • Psychology of youth & community
  • Safeguarding & child protection
  • Social inequalities

How will you be assessed?

Courses are assessed in a variety of ways, depending on the module:

  • Coursework
  • Dissertation or 'professional enquiry'
  • Essays
  • Exams
  • Presentations
  • Projects
  • Reflective logs
  • Reports

Why study Youth Work?

Youth Work degrees teach transferable skills, such as presentation, research and communication, as well as how to handle delicate or volatile situations and how to be empathetic while doing your job.

Career-specific skills:

  • Knowledge of the context of youth work, including cultural awareness and social policy
  • Understanding of inter-agency working and community development
  • Practical skills in engaging and supporting young people

Transferable skills:

  • Advocacy
  • Digital literacy
  • Empathic listening
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Organisation
  • Presentation skills
  • Project management
  • Research skills

Professional accreditation:

  • Degrees may be accredited by the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) of the National Youth Agency for England, or endorsed by ETS Wales
  • Some courses may include awards in First Aid, safeguarding, or counselling skills

What do Youth Work graduates earn?

Professional youth workers earn between £25,000–£42,500 in England, with pay scales agreed by the Joint Negotiating Committee for Youth and Community Workers. A youth justice worker may earn an average salary of £30,000.

Further training could lead Youth Work graduates into careers such as counselling or teaching, with special educational needs teachers paid £28,000–£46,000.

What jobs can you get as a Youth Work graduate?

Youth Work graduates can offer valuable people skills and experience of work in community settings. As well as youth worker, other roles could include:

  • Community engagement officer
  • Activities manager
  • Counsellor
  • Family support worker
  • Residential support worker
  • Social worker
  • Special educational needs co-ordinator
  • Teacher
  • Volunteer coordinator
  • Youth justice worker
  • Youth work trainer

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

Examples of taught master’s and research degrees at postgraduate level include:

  • Community Youth Work PGDip/MSc
  • Youth Work & Community Development PGDip/MA
  • Youth Work & Social Education PGDip

Similar subjects to Youth Work

Other subject areas that might appeal to you include:

Have any questions?

If you have questions about studying Youth Work, you can email our experts at We’ll be happy to hear from you!

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