Criminal justice jobs are expected to continue to grow in future years fueling a demand for a variety of corrections workers including caseworkers. Correction caseworkers work in jails, prisons, probation offices and other locations involved in dealing with prisoners. Though specific job duties vary from one location to another, correctional caseworkers typically work to serve two goals: to ensure public safety by reducing the chances that a prison will reoffend and assisting the prisoner to build social and emotional skills that will help him or her to succeed in life after being incarcerated or otherwise monitored by the correctional system.
Each correctional system sets their own educational requirements for correction caseworkers. However, all most all casework jobs will require some level of educational attainment at the college level or a comparable amount of work experience (see below). The most common requirement is that applicants hold a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, psychology or a closely related field. Some jobs may accept applicants with an associate’s degree. It would be rare for an employer to require a master’s degree for entry level work, but those with a master’s degree in criminal justice or another related field would be more likely to advance into higher level positions. Many employers will also have newly hired caseworkers complete extensive training after being hired as well as periodic training to update and maintain skills.
As with educational requirements, the work experience required will vary from one employer to the next. In most cases, those with the required level of education will be considered without experience. However, regardless of an experience requirement, most employers will prefer to hire candidates for a caseworker position who have some relevant experience working in criminal justice jobs. Perhaps the most common entry level position where a person can gain experience in the corrections field is as a corrections officer due to the high demand for this position. For those without a degree, higher levels of corrections experience may be needed to obtain employment as a caseworker.
Caseworkers will work directly with inmates, correctional staff, court workers and others involved in the corrections process. For this reason, good oral and written communications skills are important. The ability to work under pressure and in a potentially volatile environment is important as well. Caseworkers will need to be familiar with basic software programs, office equipment and procedures and will also need to be able to adapt to ever changing regulations as a result of changes in laws and procedures affecting the correctional environment. Caseworkers need to be able to develop and maintain working relationships with inmates from a variety of backgrounds in order to provide effective services to serve the inmate specifically and the public in general.
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