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Guide to studying Youth Work

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. Why study Youth Work?

  3. What jobs can you get as a Youth Worker?

  4. What do graduates do and earn?
  5. What qualifications do you need?

  6. What degrees can you study?

  7. How will you be assessed?

  8. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

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.

Why study Youth Work?

There are few things more important or rewarding than making a positive difference to the lives of young people. Youth Work is specifically focused on allowing you to do that.

Rather than the more formal circumstances of Psychology or Counselling, Youth Work is more about the social and active aspects.

A very flexible and adaptable degree, Youth Work can be just as easily studied part-time or full-time, either as a three-year undergraduate or single-year postgraduate course.

If you thrive off helping others – especially young people – then this subject area is all about promoting happiness. Those who can emotionally understand the needs of others tend to be successful youth workers, and interpersonal skills are really important.

The range of different areas and activities that you can study are broad. These may be projects that help tackle issues such as drugs or crime, or you could learn how to successfully organise activities such as drama or sports, or even counselling.

Volunteering for a charity may be something you have done in your free time, and highly enjoyed. This can be something you continue to do; many youth workers work closely with charities and local authorities such as Barnardo’s and the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales.

Group of teenager friends on a basketball court giving each other a high five

What jobs can you get as a Youth Work graduate?

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.

Particular job roles, as well as youth worker, include community developer, probation or prison officer, social worker, careers advisor, activities manager, teacher and lecturer.

Numerous companies offer graduate schemes in this subject, including the Civil Service Fast Stream.

What do graduates do and earn?

In the infographic below, the first table shows what graduates of Youth Work have gone on to do in the months after their graduation.

The second table shows the average salaries of undergraduate Youth Work students entering employment. The three skill levels – high, medium and low – reflect the UK's Standard Occupational Classification's major groups 1–3, 4–6 and 7–9 respectively.

Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey 2017/18

What qualifications do you need?

A lot of universities will ask for previous related experience. This could be voluntary or paid work in a community or youth setting.

Always confirm the entry requirements for the particular university and course you're interested in, as requirements will vary between institutions.

What degrees can you study?

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

How will you be assessed?

Courses are assessed via a variety of ways, through a mixture of exams and coursework. Many courses offer valuable on-the-job experience, preparing you for the world of work that comes after. The final year often includes a dissertation or 'professional enquiry'.

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

Examples of taught MAs and research degrees at postgraduate level include straight MAs in Youth Work, as well as master's courses in Applied Anthropology, Community Work, Education Studies, Youth Management, Social Work with Children and Special Education.

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