What is Corrections and Case Management?
Corrections and case management are terms used to describe parts of our criminal justice system. Professionals in these fields work with convicted criminals to help them rehabilitate themselves. Those who are not corrections officers may be called case managers and they help individuals in their caseload to find mental health centers or other social services. They also help individuals in drug court.
While this is a terrific career option in itself, many use their experience in corrections to branch off into work for mental health services, family services agencies, and juvenile justice organizations. When a person starts a career in corrections and case management, they can decide whether to seek more specialized experience as case managers or to move up into administration.
Each state has its own approach to criminal justice, including its own department of corrections and state prison network. Thus, those who wish to work with the Alabama Department of Corrections should definitely consider attending a local Alabama college or university. The coursework is more likely to focus on Alabama's special approach to the field, not to mention that local internships are more likely to pay off with a position in Alabama. Thus, this page focuses on Alabama's colleges and universities that offer degrees leading to a career in criminal justice and corrections case management in particular.
Corrections and Case Management Education in Alabama
Associate Degree in Corrections and Case Management (AS)
A two-year associate degree in criminal justice or corrections and case management is a terrific way to launch a career. Students are able to convert their associate degree into a position in an Alabama correctional facility or elsewhere in the criminal justice system. Since the Alabama Department of Corrections only requires a high school diploma or a GED to apply, a two-year college degree will help you land a better position that can springboard a terrific career.
Since this career is relatively easy to enter with an associate degree, students can earn this degree and be prepared to make better decisions regarding later degrees. That is, as a corrections employee with a two-year degree they can observe many other sorts of positions within the ADOC and then plan their bachelor’s degrees accordingly. Some may wish to delve deeper into case management and counseling, while others might prefer to branch into another law enforcement career. Others may decide to direct their energies towards the ultimate goal of law school. An associate degree in corrections and case management will help anyone build the career that best suits them.
Bachelor's Degree in Corrections and Case Management (BS)
Once a professional has completed their bachelor’s degree in corrections and case management, they can command a position with more responsibility and a higher salary. A four-year bachelor’s degree will help any corrections professional stand out in their field. In fact, those who earn a bachelor’s degree will likely rise into management very quickly. Four-year degrees require more time and credits, thus enabling students to find more opportunities to create a well-rounded transcript.
A bachelor’s degree program in criminal justice also provides more academic opportunities so that a student can explore other, complimentary fields. It can be advantageous for some students to add a minor field to their transcripts, especially if they aren’t 100% sure where their career is heading after they earn their degree. Psychology, sociology, and legal studies are fantastic adjacent fields for those in corrections and case management. For those who are interested in becoming administrators, courses in accounting, management, and leadership may help boost their resumes. In fact, when it comes time to consider a master’s degree, students may choose to pursue a full degree in what was once their minor field.
Master's Degree in Corrections and Case Management (MS or MC)
Some Alabama corrections professionals decide that they want to bring their career to the next level with a master’s degree in corrections and case management. There are many options for those who wish to pursue a master’s degree. To decide, professionals need to determine their long-term goals.
Some may wish to dive deeper into case management and the social work aspect of the profession. For this, a master’s degree in corrections and case management or a master's in criminal justice will be a great help. Others might choose a master’s degree in psychology and counsel prisoners. Still others may desire a move into upper management. For these professionals, an MBA will rocket them to the next level. There are also dual MBA programs that provide training in business and also social work, public administration, or psychology.
PhD Degree in Corrections and Case Management (PhD)
While this level of academic accomplishment is rare in the world of government, it certainly helps boost salaries and position. However, one of the more common uses for a doctoral degree in corrections and case management is in academia. Those who reach this level often do so with the goal of teaching at the college and university level. However, those with a PhD in the field might also conduct research and work as consultants to corrections facilities nationwide. These academic superstars also find work in think tanks and independent research institutes. But you should keep in mind that some are able to maintain a position with a college or university while completing consulting projects on the side.
By and large, this field does not require a PhD and professionals should consider this option carefully. If there is a specific goal that can only be reached with this top-level degree, then the choice is clear. However, few who work in corrections, or government in general, find a need for a doctoral degree in corrections case management.
Become a Corrections and Case Manager in Alabama
Corrections and case management is a field that may not be on the radar for many people. Rather, most think of related work in fields such as social work, psychology, and elsewhere in the criminal justice system. Thus, when considering the helping professions, students should include corrections case management as an option for their career goals.
With that in mind, to become a professional in the field of corrections case management, it's vital to start with a desire to make a career from helping others. In this way, corrections case management can be considered something of a calling and a passion. For those who are thinking of social work or psychology, consider how those skills and energies can be used in the corrections system. With so many people currently in Alabama's corrections system, the demand for qualified, passionate workers is high.
Once it’s clear that corrections case management is your career goal, your first step should be to seek out a college degree. In Alabama, the corrections department is willing to hire workers with just a high school diploma or a GED. Thus, a two-year degree is sure to provide a leg-up in the hiring pool as well as better salary and long-term prospects. With this in mind, it's also possible to begin work and attend college at night or online.
With a bit of experience, most corrections workers will start to desire more pay and a promotion. They should then dive into their studies and work toward a bachelor’s degree, if not a master’s degree. With a master’s degree, there are many options. Some many wish to continue working with inmates and then complete a graduate degree in corrections and case management. Others may seek a bit more flexibility and may enroll in a master of social work program and still others may desire a position in upper administration and then work for an MBA or a master of public administration.
Another option is to pursue certifications and other professional credentials. Thus, rather than completing a full master’s degree program, student can earn a graduate certificate in corrections and case management. Those credits may later be used towards a full graduate degree or perhaps added to some other degree, such as an MBA or MSW.
Top College Programs in Alabama for Corrections and Case Management
- Troy University:
At Troy, students can complete a degree in criminal justice that will lead to success in the Alabama Department of Corrections. Some students may opt for their accelerated law program that combines a Juris Doctor degree with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. With this program, students can graduate with a law degree in a mere six years.
- University of Alabama:
Undergraduate students in University of Alabama's department of Criminology & Criminal Justice can choose between four minors. Two of these choices: sociology and criminal justice, would make for a good choice if the long-range goal is to become a case manager. Since the program has an interdisciplinary approach, students may be able to forge their own path to becoming a case manager.
- Athens State University:
This Alabama university offers a comprehensive criminal justice degree program. Students can forge careers in law enforcement, criminology, criminal law, corrections, and juvenile delinquency. ASU's program also helps students create an academic foundation for success as government officials.
- Auburn University at Montgomery:
Students in the AUM criminal justice program can specialize in law enforcement, corrections, juvenile justice, or security administration. Students can also opt for the legal studies track which seeks to prepare them for law school.
- University of Alabama at Birmingham:
Students at UAB can enter the school's department of criminal justice with an eye to one of many different future outcomes: law enforcement, private security, probation, parole, corrections, cyber-crime/computer forensics, law school, or graduate school. In fact, students have the opportunity to explore one of these options via the internship program.
Careers for Corrections and Case Management Graduates
- Correctional Officer:
Professionals in the correctional system can work as prison guards, case managers, or administrators. Professionals in corrections seek to keep their prisoners safe and help them rehabilitate so that they don't return to their incarcerated state. Options in this field include but are not limited to parole/probation officers, counselors, and prison guards. With a degree in criminal justice, workers are bound to go far.
- Patrol or Police Officer:
Most criminal justice students are assumed to be in hot pursuit of this position. Though police officers only need a high school diploma, or the equivalent, a college degree will help them become even better officers. With a bachelor's degree, officers can rise in the ranks and enjoy all the benefits that come with higher rank.
- Probation/Parole Officer:
These corrections professionals work with individuals who either are out of prison on a contingent release or who are completing their sentence outside of a prison or jail facility. This position requires case management skills and is considered something of a social work position.
- FBI/DEA/ATF/NSA/CIA Agent:
Federal law enforcement agents work to enforce federal laws. Professionals might focus on areas such as human trafficking, cyber-crime, or drug trafficking, to name a few specialties. Agents in the CIA or NSA work with people and information on an international level. These agencies hire workers with a wide range of backgrounds including accounting, cyber security, forensic science, and law.
- Crime Scene Investigator:
This is where criminal justice meets science. This career path will require academic credentials. Many are drawn to this line of work by the proliferation of television shows that feature these professionals, though students should ensure that they understand the reality of these positions rather than just the dramatization of them before they pursue this type of degree. To excel in this field, students should focus on forensic science and perhaps work on a minor degree in biology.
This position generally requires a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. Detectives typically work one specific sort of crime, depending on where they are hired. Some investigate vice crimes while others seek to find murderers. There are also detectives that are trained to work on financial crimes.
These professionals are the hub of all police activity. Dispatchers receive calls from citizens who are reporting crimes or reports from officers and then they dispatch others to investigate. Dispatchers need to be able to think on their feet and discern what resources are needed for each call. This position does not require any particular degree but can be a terrific job with which to start a career in criminal justice.