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What is a youth worker?

A youth worker is someone who works with young people, typically between the ages of 12 and 24, to support their personal and social development. They might work in different settings such as community centres, schools, non-profits, and youth organisations.

The primary goal of a youth worker is to provide support and guidance to help young people build positive self-identities, get through difficult situations, and develop the skills they need to achieve their goals. They might do this by providing counselling, educational support, building community programs, providing recreational activities, and advocating on behalf of young people. 

Besides supporting young people, youth workers can also be involved in community outreach, developing community based programs, and building partnerships with youth centred agencies and organisations. They’ll often collaborate with other workers in the community services sector to provide support for young people and their families, including social workers, teachers, and healthcare providers. 

What do youth workers do?

The day-to-day activities of a youth worker will differ depending on the setting they work in. Daily duties might include: 

  • Helping young people with their current social, emotional, and financial challenges 
  • Assessing the needs of a young person and referring them to support programs, education, or training 
  • Connecting young people with youth sector agencies or community services depending on their needs 
  • Monitoring the progress of young people they work with 
  • Developing partnerships and relationships with schools, communities, training providers, and employers
  • Raising issues with relevant government authorities & advocating on behalf of young people 
  • Working with groups to conduct group activities 
  • Arranging food, shelter, clothing, and other resources for young people in need 
  • Providing crisis counselling when necessary

How do I become a youth worker?

To become a youth worker in Australia, you must complete a professional qualification such as a Certificate IV in Youth Work or a Diploma of Youth Work. 

These courses provide you with the necessary skills and knowledge to care for the safety, emotional health, and social connectivity of young people, including how to:

  • Engage respectfully with young people
  • Work with diverse people
  • Participate in workplace health & safety
  • Work legally and ethically
  • Support people with mental health issues
  • Conduct group activities
  • Facilitate programs
  • Respond to critical situations

The courses include a mandatory work placement that provides you with practical experience so you can offer the best level of support upon completion of your training. To get a job as a youth worker, you may also require a national police clearance and working with children check.   

What makes being a youth worker a good career choice?

Being a youth worker can be a rewarding and fulfilling career choice for several reasons:

Make a positive impact

Youth workers make a positive impact on the lives of young people by safeguarding them from harm, counselling through difficult issues, and helping them to develop the skills and confidence they need to reach their potential. This makes youth work an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling career, knowing you are making a difference in people’s lives.

Variety in work

A career in youth work involves various activities and responsibilities that allow for variety in your day-to-day responsibilities. These include mentoring, counselling, conducting group activities, facilitating programs, and providing educational support. This variety can keep youth work interesting and engaging. 

Flexible work hours

Many youth workers are able to work flexible hours, including freelance or part-time. This can be an appealing aspect of the job for those who like to maintain work-life balance or have other commitments that don’t permit a full time job. 

Growth opportunities

As youth workers gain experience in the role, there are opportunities to advance into other leadership positions or specalise in particular areas such as mental health, education, or social work. 

Job security

Youth workers are an important part of the community and the need for them is likely to remain high. Young people will always need support and guidance, whether that’s through group activities or mental health support. This can provide job security and stability. 

Take a youth work course online

If you’d like to begin a career in youth work, you can enrol in an online course to receive a nationally recognised qualification that equips you with all the skills and knowledge you need to provide a range of services for young people. 

Online youth work courses offer flexible delivery and include an in-person work placement that provides you with the practical experience you need to start your career with confidence.

Youth work courses in Australia

In Australia, the two main youth work courses are a Certificate IV in Youth Work and a Diploma in Youth Work. Both of these courses are available to study online, enabling you to start your career without having to shift your current work, family, or life commitments. 

What are the benefits of youth work courses?

Youth work courses provide numerous benefits to those who are looking to forge a career as a youth worker. These include:

Professional development

In Australia, you cannot become a youth worker without a qualification such as the Certificate IV in Youth Work or Diploma in Youth Work. These two courses teach you the necessary skills so you can offer the best degree of support to young people, including how to respond to crises, work with people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, facilitate programs, support young people to create opportunities in their lives, work within a community development framework, and conduct group activities.

Personal development

While very rewarding and fulfilling, youth work can be a difficult and sometimes stressful job. Youth work courses prepare you for the realities of working in a youth work context by teaching you how to respond to critical situations and develop important skills such as resilience, empathy, and creativity. These are valuable skills to have on the job but also in your personal life. 

How long does it take to finish a youth work course?

This depends on the course you have enrolled in and the training provider. If you choose to enrol online, youth work courses are self-paced and can be completed in your own time (within the course expiry date). 

Generally, a Certificate IV in Youth Work takes a maximum of 18 months to complete and includes around 120 hours of work placement. A Diploma in Youth Work takes around 24 months to complete with around 160 hours of work placement required.  

How much does a youth work course cost?

The cost of a Certificate IV in Youth Work or a Diploma in Youth Work will depend on the institution and payment method you use. Many institutions offer payment plans and may even offer a discount for some students. Get in touch with our team to receive a free course pack with all the information you need to get started.  

How much can you earn after youth work courses?

The average youth worker in Australia earns between $65,000 and $80,000 per year. An entry level youth worker can expect to earn around $52,000 while a more experienced youth worker can earn up to $88,600.

Best online youth work courses to pursue

We recommend starting with a Certificate IV in Youth Work. This enables you to begin a fulfilling career as a youth worker. If you’d like to start your career with more knowledge, or want to advance your career, a Diploma in Youth Work is the ideal course to pursue. 

Youth work courses – summary 

Being a youth worker is a rewarding and fulfilling career choice for those who are passionate about working with young people and making a positive difference in their lives. Start your youth worker career with an online course today!


  1. What is a youth worker?
    A youth worker is someone who works with young people to support their personal and social development. They may provide counselling, respond to critical situations, connect young people with community services, or develop community based programs.

  2. Is youth work a good career?
    Youth work is an extremely rewarding and fulfilling career. Everyday you are making a positive impact on the lives of young people by helping them find support and create opportunities in their lives.

  3. Are youth workers in demand?
    Youth workers are in demand in Australia. The Federal Government anticipates demand for youth work to remain strong for the next five years.

  4. What qualifications do I need to be a youth worker in Australia?
    To become a youth worker in Australia you need a Certificate IV in Youth Work or a Diploma in Youth Work.

  5. What are the challenges of being a youth worker?
    While extremely rewarding, youth work can be a challenging job. It is at times stressful and requires navigating complex issues such as mental health, homelessness, and child protection.