How to Become a Criminal Justice Case Manager:
The Definitive Guide

The criminal justice system has been around for hundreds of years.

Correctional facilities are overpopulated and in need of understanding people to help with managing criminal justice cases.

Cases that may be difficult, heart wrenching, or scary.

If you think that you’re a tough as nails, detail-oriented, critical thinker than this may just be the career you’ve been looking for.

What is a Criminal Justice Case Manager?

Criminal justice case managers work closely with prison systems as well as social services.

In order to rehabilitate and reintroduce criminals back into society, criminal justice case managers advise and counsel felons in order to help them return to life outside of prison.

Some of the things that a criminal justice case manager can be expected to do can include job training, probation, advocacy, and even psychological assessment.

Though this career can have its downsides, it is a positive and beneficial role for those who are convicted of crimes, as well as their families.


The types of things that a criminal justice case manager may have to do on a daily basis can vary depending on the setting of employment.

Even if there are differences between nurse case managers and correctional case managers, there are duties that remain the same regardless.

These include:

  • Advocating for cases
  • Helping with job placement
  • Assessing the strengths of your clients
  • Investigating barriers for your client
  • Providing hands-on services
  • Building and sustaining a support structure
  • Helping clients access much-needed resources


Criminal justice case managers with a Bachelor’s degree can make around $77,000 a year.

Those that obtain a Master’s degree can make even more throughout their careers.

Most criminal justice case managers stick with their Bachelor’s degree, as it seems that the rate in which the salary goes up with every degree doesn’t change too much.

This means that you can get a job doing the same thing with a Bachelor’s degree that someone is doing with a Master’s.

Experience, education and the location of where you work can also have a big impact on your salary.

Criminal justice case managers who work in larger prisons, or in major cities will likely make more than those who work in smaller prisons or smaller towns.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

Annually National Average Salary: $63,290


Average Annual Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
New Hampshire$65,610
New Jersey$75,040
New Mexico$48,450
New York$77,270
North Carolina$46,420
North Dakota$64,630
South Carolina$44,420
South Dakota$49,820
West Virginia$46,640

Annual Average Salary: Top 5 States

The top earning state in the field is California, where the average salary is $94,650.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

California - $94,650
Connecticut - $89,960
Massachusetts - $83,980
New York - $77,270
New Jersey - $75,040
*Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey.
Conducted by: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Labor.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

How to Become a Criminal Justice Case Manager

Step 1Gain an Associate's Degree

One of the great things about becoming a criminal justice case manager is that there are degrees from Associates to Doctorates in this field.

Each undergraduate program will give you much-needed hands-on experience and training in order to make you the best possible criminal justice case manager you can be.

An Associate’s degree criminal justice program will give you the required education on criminal psychology and behavior, ethics, laws, and procedures, policing techniques and evidence processing.

As an added bonus, you’ll be able to do an internship throughout your Associate’s degree program in most colleges and universities.

Step 2Obtain a Bachelor's Degree

Most people who are interested in becoming criminal justice case managers don’t stop educating themselves after getting their Associates degree.

After receiving your diploma for graduating with an Associate’s degree, you are considered halfway done with your Bachelor’s degree.

Continuing a criminal justice program should be simple after this!

Some of the things that you will learn at the Bachelor degree level include:

  • Criminal law theory
  • Criminal behavior
  • Domestic violence
  • Abnormal psychology
  • Human relations and social research methods
  • Rehabilitation techniques and services
  • Parole and probation

Once you have completed your Bachelor’s degree, you will be ready for entry-level careers working with juvenile and adult offenders.

Some of the job prospects you can expect to see after graduation can include:

  • Security guard
  • Corrections officer
  • Probation officer
  • Jailer

Step 3Get Experience

One of the most important aspects of this career path is gaining experience.

In order to do well in this job, you’ll need to be able to mentally and physically handle to workload.

You will likely take on more than one case at a time, which means you’ll need to be organized and detailed with every case.

Typically, when first beginning in this career, you’ll be supervised and guided about decisions to make, actions to take, and resources to provide to your clients.

More often than not experience is needed before you can become a certified criminal justice case manager.

Step 4Become Certified

After you have some experience under your belt, it’s time to think about becoming certified in your field.

There are several different certifications for the different branches of criminal justice case management, so you’ll want to take a look at your local precinct to see what it is that you must do in order to become certified.

The most impressive certification is that of the Board Certified Case Manager.

With this certification, you’ll show employers that you have the knowledge and competency to do the job correctly.

This can lead to promotions and higher pay grades.

Step 5Continue Your Education

Whether you decide to work after acquiring your Bachelor’s degree or continue on to get your Master’s, you will need to have hands-on experience.

Most employers will make going to school and working simultaneously easier, especially now that there are online degrees that you can achieve from home.

Gaining a Master’s degree can show employers that you have the intention of working as a criminal justice caseworker until retirement, which can give you job security.

Education and experience are the most important aspects of this career choice.


In order to get the full education needed to be a great criminal justice case manager, you may want to opt for your Bachelor’s degree.

However, you can always start out with gaining your Associates’s degree.

This can take up to two years and covers topics like criminal psychology, case management training and how to work with offenders on a regular basis.

You could consider an Associates’ degree a step into the door of the world.

If you want to get a better education, and possibly a higher paying job, you’ll want to go for your Bachelor’s degree.

Receiving a Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice can give you many benefits.

First of all, you’ll have acquired great knowledge about case management, victim advocacy, probation, and parole.

There are many career paths to take ones you obtain a Bachelor’s degree, but it’s also possible to continue your education.

With a Master’s degree, or even further, you can rest assured that your knowledge and competency are at the top of your career.

Many people who desire to work as a criminal justice case manager stop after they receive their Bachelor’s degree.

This is typically done because the salary increase isn’t enough to make education and student loans worth the price.

One of the great things about this career path is that there are several online programs that you can do all from the comfort of your home.

You’ll also be required to do an internship or work with law enforcement or a private company in order to gain experience while also getting your degree.

Some of the things that you can learn throughout your education include:

  • Health care administration
  • Sociology
  • Psychology
  • Social work
  • Public health
  • Business and communication

The degree is well rounded and can help you in achieving your goals regardless of the branch of law enforcement you would like to work in.

Video About The Career


The licensing and certification requirements can vary depending on where you expect to work, and also the state you are working in.

Some positions don’t require a license or certification at all.

For example, if you work in legal case management or medical case management, you won’t be required to obtain any other certifications or licensing.

Aside from those types of jobs, becoming certified as a case manager is highly recommended.

It’s possible to obtain a general certification to become a Board Certified Case Manager.

In order to get this certification, there are several requirements:

  • Have a license such as RN, LCSW, or RX
  • Bachelor’s or Master’s degree from an accredited institution
  • 12-months full-time case management experience
  • Or 12 months of full-time supervisor experience

As a Board Certified Case Manager, you’ll show employers that you have the experience and knowledge needed to deal with complex challenges and the know-how to uphold professional and ethical standards.

There are also certifications that pertain to specific jobs within the criminal justice case manager career.

A medical case manager may want to become certified as an Accredited Case Manager.

This certification is specifically designed for the health system and transition of care case managers.

While gaining this certification, you can expect:

  • To address case management in health care settings
  • Test your core knowledge that is shared by nurses and social workers
  • To utilize simulation testing methodology to test beyond knowledge and comprehension

In order to be eligible for this certification, you’ll need to have at least 36 months of experience with a health delivery system.

One other certification that you can acquire within this career field is the Certified Social Work Case Manager accreditation.

In order to be eligible for this specific certification, you’ll need to have a Bachelor’s degree and 4,500 supervised hours of experience.

This certification will help employers see that you are serious and passionate about your current career.

Any certification also shows employers that you are competent and ready to work in the career for the long haul.

Certification Example:

criminal justice case manager certificate

Average Training Program Duration: 4+ Years

When it comes to becoming certified as a criminal justice case manager, the time it takes is entirely up to you.

Most certifications require that you take an exam, pass it, and also show your understanding of the subject matter through physically simulating the situations you’ll be put in.

Depending on how much time you’d like to take to ensure you understand all of the required knowledge, this can take from two weeks to several months to do.

You’ll also have the opportunity to re-do an exam if you fail, but there is a cap on how many times you may apply for certification.

Popular Programs

Job Outlook

Within the next ten years, it looks like the career will climb around three percent.

This is a little slower than other occupations within the same field.

If you are interested in becoming a criminal justice case manager, you will want to look into your state’s funding for corrections so that you know your specific career outlook.

Each state is different, as each state government creates its own laws.

With that being said, it doesn’t look like this career will go extinct any time soon, as jail or prison time is viewed as a viable punishment for criminals.

This career will be a great option or stepping stone for the interested candidate.

Employment Growth Projection: 4%


That's a higher than average projected growth of 3,500 jobs.

Criminal Justice Case Manager: Interest Over Time

Should You Become a Criminal Justice Case Manager?

Overall Satisfaction: Medium

Overall Satisfaction

Criminal justice case managers can work in a variety of settings, including local, state, and federal correctional facilities.

Some work with probation and parole officers in independent offices.

So, two criminal justice case managers can have different experiences with their job satisfaction.

Those that work in correctional facilities tend to find it more stressful than those who work in offices, but both jobs do pack a punch.

Advancement in this career is possible through experience and education.

Hours can be long and arduous, especially on holidays and weekends.

Average Salary: High

Average Salary

The average salary in the United States for a criminal justice case manager is around $77,000 a year.

This is the average for people who have Bachelor’s degrees.

Some people decide to obtain a Master’s, which can bring the average salary up to around $80,000.

The average salary can also depend on the state government as well, so you’ll want to study up on your state’s laws.

Larger cities may pay more to their criminal justice case managers than a smaller town.

Job Growth Outlook: Medium

Job Growth Outlook

Even though the job growth outlook for a criminal justice case manager is small at 3% in the next ten years, the job will not disappear any time soon.

Unfortunately, in most cases, crime happens every day in the United States.

This means that there will always be a need for criminal justice case managers, as they handle criminals, whether in the prison or through the court.

There has been a steady use of criminal justice case managers in rehabilitation centers as well as in juvenile detention centers.

Having these options can help when searching for employment.

Education Duration: 4+ Years

Education Duration

The length of your education depends on you.

If you want to obtain an Associate’s degree, and stop there, then that’s fine.

This should take you around two years to complete.

However, to get the most out of your career as a criminal justice case manager, you will want to at least gain your Bachelor’s degree.

Obtaining a Bachelor’s degree can take you around four years to complete.

Beyond that, a Master’s degree can take you another two years to complete.

All in all, it may take around 6 or more years to gain the education you desire.

Personal Skills Needed

Personal Skills Needed

As a criminal justice case manager, you will likely be dealing with several cases at one time, this means that you’ll have to have specific character traits in order to keep everything in line.

Some of these traits include:

  • Detail-oriented and on time
  • Show empathy toward your cases
  • Patience
  • Discernment
  • Courage
  • Critical thinking
  • Physically fit
  • Communication skills
  • Negotiation skills
  • Advocacy skills

You must remember that you may be working with people who are violent or make you feel unsafe.

If you find yourself in a situation that you’re not sure about, you must be prepared to defend yourself or seek help.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the average salary of a criminal justice case manager?

As of 2019, the average salary for a criminal justice case manager is around $77,000 a year.

People who decide to gain a Master’s degree will likely make more than that, at around $80,000 a year.

Salary may vary depending on if you work for a local, state, or government jurisdiction.

Other varying factors include certifications, licensing, and experience.

Criminal justice case managers who work in larger prisons will likely make more than those that work in smaller jails or probation offices.

Q. How long does it take to become a criminal justice case manager?

With an Associate’s degree that can take around two years, you can begin entry-level work as a criminal justice case manager.

In order to gain more promotions within your field, obtaining a Bachelor’s degree is required.

This can take an additional two years.

There are also those people who wish to educate themselves even more and get their Master’s degree.

The typical Master’s program can take around two years to complete.

It can take between 2 and 6 years to become a criminal justice case manager.

Q. What does a criminal justice case manager do?

A criminal justice case manager is the link between offenders and society.

The main goal of a criminal justice case manager is to rehabilitate back into the outside world.

This can look like job searching, or finding resources like Alcoholics Anonymous.

It could also be communicating with organizations as well as patients to gather information and be on the same page.

Each day may be different, especially with different clients, but the job can really help prisoners and offenders get back on their feet.

Q. What is the demand for criminal justice case managers?

Unfortunately, there will always be crime around which means there will always be criminals.

This is a good thing for criminal justice case managers because that means steady work and a demand for the job.

The use of incarceration as a punishment is still very prevalent today and doesn’t seem to be going extinct any time soon.

Though the job growth rate doesn’t seem to be growing much, at 3% within the next ten years, there will be a steady flow of available jobs.

Q. How much does it cost to become a criminal justice case manager?

This answer can vary depending on the type of school you decide on.

The typical Bachelor’s degree in the United States can cost around $30,000.

It is advised to at least obtain a Bachelor’s degree before pursuing a career as a criminal justice case manager.

It is possible to gain an entry-level job with an Associate’s degree, which can cost around $12,000.

Some criminal justice case managers have also obtained their Master’s degree.

This can run around another $30,000.

Depending on how much education you receive, the cost to become a criminal justice case manager is from $12,000-30,000.

Similar Careers

Leave a Comment