Correctional Treatment Specialist: Job Description and Requirements

A correctional treatment specialist works with convicted criminals and their parole or probation officers in order to produce a plan of action for their rehabilitation and reintroduction to society. This frequently involves psychological probing of their subjects and assistance in therapeutic treatments to deal with possible past drug or sexual abuse, manage violent outbursts and improve vocational skills.

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Job Description of a Correctional Treatment Specialist

A correctional treatment specialist, also known as a case manager, is a key connection between the justice department and social services system, working with convicted criminals to facilitate rehabilitation and reintegration into society. Though similar to the job of a probation or parole officer, a correctional treatment specialist focuses on the construction of a course of action or plan of treatment for offenders to follow both within jail and when released.

Daily Responsibilities

The correctional treatment specialist works in an advisory position with convicted criminals. Together with observations from a probation officer, parole officer or other justice official, the correctional treatment specialist works with a convict to implement a plan for their successful reintroduction into society. Many specialists work within prisons and directly with inmates, while other specialists work in independent offices of probation or parole officers.

Through their careful analysis of a convict's past behaviors and psychological tendencies, correctional treatment specialists can make a huge difference in the path of their clients' lives. They write case plans used in parole hearings and suggest any counseling (group or individual therapy) needed for anger management and drug abuse therapy. They also seek to assist clients in acquiring desired job skills or finding educational opportunities that they would be interested in pursuing.

Correctional Treatment Specialists Career Requirements

In most cases, employers of correctional treatment specialists require applicants have at least a bachelor's degree. Course of study or major is preferably in the social or behavioral sciences or criminal justice; however, some employers accept graduates with other majors as long as there is a concentration of courses in psychology and behavioral sciences.

In addition to the standard educational requirements, most employers ask applicants to undergo a series of additional tests to prove that they can withstand the sometimes emotional and physical challenges of working in a correctional facility. Tests include standard written and oral interviews, psychological testing and physical fitness testing.

Most states also require correctional treatment specialists to be within a certain age range. Age limit depends on the state and the department where the specialist wants to work.

Employment Opportunities and Advancement

Correctional treatment specialists may advance by being promoted to a senior-level position after accumulating years of experience. Some positions may require further education (either a master's or Ph.D.) in a related field, such as criminology, psychology or law. Some correctional treatment specialists may enter law school and seek a degree in an alternate branch of the justice system. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), correctional treatment specialists, as of May 2012, made a median salary of approximately $48,190 a year.

Because of the ever-increasing population problem in U.S. prisons, correctional treatment specialists are needed to cover the demand caused from prisoners being released from overburdened incarceration facilities. Thus, according to the BLS, employment opportunities for correctional treatment specialists are projected to grow 18% in the years 2010-2020, which is near the average for all careers.

Certification

Correction treatment specialists are not required to be licensed or certified. However, the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification offers a voluntary certification. In order to gain certification, applicants need a master's degree in rehabilitation counseling, counseling or other related disciplines. The computer exam is 3-4 hours long and is made up of 175 questions (multiple-choice). Areas tested include job development, vocational consultation, medical health counseling and professional ethics.

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