Many people inquire about what role social workers have in the criminal justice system. They are particularly interested in whether or not they could work in the criminal justice system once they graduated with their social work degree. The answer is yes.
At the undergraduate level, people with degrees in social work, psychology, sociology, and related degrees, are often competing for the same jobs. Some refer to these jobs as “entry level.”
Individuals who work in the criminal justice field and who a have degree in social work may consider themselves forensic social workers. There are degree programs across the country that focus on forensic social workbut they’re relatively sparse, compared to other traditional social work programs. You can read more about those programs at the National Organization For Forensic Social Work (NOFSW) website.
One of the many benefits of having a social work degree is its versatility. Below is a list of possible jobs that one could hold in the criminal justice system with a social work degree. Many require a master’s degree in social work but not all of them.
15 Criminal Justice Career Options for Social Workers
1. Mental Health or Drug Court Coordinator/Program Manager
2. Guardian Ad Litem (court-appointed individual who represents the best interests of the child in a divorce or parental responsibility case)
3. Parole or Probation Officer
4. Assisting a team of lawyers investigating a case of possible innocence (i.e. Innocence Project)
5. Victim Advocate
6. Sex Offender Therapist
7. Policy Analyst
8. Providing expert testimony in a legal trial
9. Assistant to a public defender
10. Forensic investigator at the local Medical Examiners’ office
11. Custody Evaluator
12. Mental Health Evaluator
13. Mitigation Specialist
14. Case Manager for offenders leaving prison and transiting back into society
15. Conflict Mediator