Becoming a qualified youth worker

Most people enter youth work as either a volunteer or paid worker/apprentice and are typically called youth support workers.

Youth support workers undertake training at level 2 certificate or level 3 certificate or diploma in youth work practice.

This is a qualification for people who work with young people using youth work principles and practice.  The level 2 is for 16+ age group and the level 3 is 18+ age group.

These qualifications are provided by a range of awarding organisations;

ABC Awards

Agored Cymru

Aim Awards

Apt Awards


Laser Learning




An apprenticeship is a way for young people and adult learners to earn while they learn in a real job, gaining a youth support worker level 2 certificate in youth work practice and real experience of working with young people. As an employer hiring an apprentice provides you with the opportunity to develop workers’ talents and gain a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce.

Many youth work providers are now employing youth support worker apprenticeships. Information about becoming a youth work apprentice.

Higher level qualifications

Once you have gained a level 3 certificate in youth work practice you can progress to a professional level youth work qualification such as:

• BA (Hons): three years full time and part time equivalent – level 6
• PG Dip: one year full time and part time equivalent – level 7
• MA: one year and part time equivalent – level 7
• Graduate Diploma: two years full time – level 6

These courses are offered by universities or colleges of higher education. Your course will need to be ‘JNC recognised’ and validated by the NYA for you to gain the status of qualified youth worker. Read more on our role validating youth work training.

The courses reflect different occupational needs, and have a range of titles, including:
• youth and community
• community and youth studies
• youth and theology
• informal and community education.

Whilst most universities will have entry requirements, all institutions offering youth and community courses will welcome applications from those without academic qualifications providing they have relevant experience in youth work.

Youth work courses

If you are interested in studying youth work, here is a list of all the currently validated professionally qualifying programmes that are JNC recognised. These courses will give you the status of professional youth worker.

These are also presented in a geographical map to help you find opportunities in your region.

Lists of current validated programmes.
Validated programmes map by region.

To find out about youth work training in Scotland, Ireland and Wales, contact:
CLD Standards Council for Scotland
ETS Wales
Youth Council for Northern Ireland


 Regional Youth Work Units

Regional Youth Work Unit West Midlandssend an email
Youth Focus North Eastsend an email
The Partnership for Young Londonsend an email
Youth work unit, Yorkshire & Humbersidesend an email
Youth Focus North West – send an email