If you like helping people, a career as a caseworker counselor may be for you. Caseworkers are found in non-profit and government agencies, including mental health clinics, hospitals, and child welfare. They work with a variety of situations, including poverty and homelessness, mental illness and developmental disability, chronic illness, and child protection and adoption. As a caseworker, your job is to assess, design a plan, and work with individuals and families in carrying out the plan. The job requires counseling, but may also include transporting your client to needed services.
Get trained in case management. The most common counseling case management degree is in social work; however, education in psychology, counseling or human services can qualify as well. Some case managers have a background in nursing, but your level of education will depend on your goals. Some jobs require a bachelor's degree, while others will want you to have a master's degree and possibly a license. During your training, you'll learn about interviewing and assessment, human development and intervention strategies. In many cases you can specialize in an area, such as working with children and families.
Gain experience through a practicum. Many education programs require an internship. Work with your adviser to get a placement as a case counselor in the area where you're interested in working. For example, if you want to work with the elderly, ask for an internship in a geriatric setting.
Learn how to keep thorough, accurate case notes. Case notes not only help you track what you've done with your clients and their progress, but it's often required for insurance purposes. Case notes usually outline the purpose of the meeting, any issues addressed, strategies implemented and goals for the next visit.
Maintain a clean driving record and get a reliable car. Case management services often require traveling to client homes and occasionally transporting them to other locations. Your place of employment will likely do a driving background check before hiring you.
Contact non-profit and public agencies about case work jobs in your area. Concentrate on agencies that focus on the population you want to work with. For example, if you want to be a case counselor for people in drug treatment, you can contact public and private rehabilitation centers, hospitals and mental health clinics.
- Most agencies require case managers to have yearly continuing education to maintain their position. Keep informed through industry journals, seminars and research.
Leslie Truex has been telecommuting and freelancing since 1994. She wrote the "The Work-At-Home Success Bible" and is a career/business and writing instructor at Piedmont Virginia Community College. Truex has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Willamette University and a Master of Social Work from California State University-Sacramento. She has been an Aerobics and Fitness Association of America certified fitness instructor since 2001.