Among the important jobs available for graduates in psychology, reentry managers serve a significant role in the criminal justice system and work with a vulnerable population of individuals in the vital process of making ongoing life changes. While the skills and education necessary for an effective career development plan in this field will vary according to interest and specialty, there are core requirements necessary to do this job well and to secure longevity in the field.

Coursework

A strong background in psychology is essential for success in this job. In addition to psychology, a detailed understanding of the criminal justice system is needed to best serve clients. Impeccable communication skills are not only vital to record keeping duties, but also for handwritten and electronic communication to a variety of stakeholders and constituents in each individual case. Strong organizational skills and an empathetic personality are also highly regarded attributes for professional success.

Some professionals begin their education with a two year associate of arts degree which prepares students for an entry level support role such as administrative assistant; a four year bachelor’s degree provides more opportunity. With internships and field experience in the profession, résumé power increases. The most highly sought after jobs require detailed experience and education from highly regarded programs. And now, with the increasing number of online programs from nationally ranked and regionally accredited programs, continuing education is even more convenient than before.

Once one has acquired a strong repertoire of professional acumen in the field, a master’s degree is a natural progression for leadership opportunities. Leaders in the field manage reentry programs, supervise other reentry professionals and conduct research to improve existing programs. Two common job titles for master’s level professionals include a reentry case manager and a clinical reentry manager. In addition, trainers in the field and speakers who work with teams of reentry professionals usually have also acquired this advanced degree.

Professional Opportunity

According to the National Reentry Resource Center, over 600,000 people reenter society each year after being incarcerated for various amounts of time. These individuals need the assistance of reentry managers, who will aid in creating a comprehensive reentry plan, implementing levels of accountability, indentifying community resources, and helping to create a positive opportunity for personal growth.  Justice departments, national, state, and local law enforcement offices, nonprofits, civic and faith-based groups all hire reentry managers, coordinators, and assistants to provide services for individuals recently transitioning into society after incarceration.

Professionals interested in this field must be highly organized, motivated, and should be able to look at the whole picture as well as the important details that lead to success. Success plans for people reentering society often include mental health services, drug and alcohol treatment, job placement, housing locations, and ongoing services to help an individual reconnect with family and society in positive ways. Because of the multi-faceted complexity of the challenges facing reentry, part of the plan is addressing what happens when parts of the plan fail, which is often the case in the process of making lasting change.  Therefore, professionals in this field need to have the professional maturity and resilience to keep the positive momentum moving forward even when specific aspects of the plan fails. Success in this field is measured in stages, steps, and goals, not necessarily in reaching a finite end point.

Conclusion

For professionals looking for a meaningful way to serve others with a psychology or criminal justice background, being a reentry manager provides vital services to individuals attempting to reenter mainstream society after a period of incarceration. While the best jobs require the highest degree of education and experience, coursework can be completed while accumulating experience through the convenience of degree programs from top-tier, regionally accredited colleges and universities.

While the work of reentry professionals is challenging and constantly changing, the job they do is vital to a vulnerable population of individuals striving to make lasting changes for an improved quality of life. Internal and external rewards can be great for those dedicated to obtaining the best education, most comprehensive experience, and ongoing professional service necessary to set an individual’s skill set apart from the competition. 

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