Case managers work with individuals and families to help them overcome hardship, and access social services and support.
New case managers usually earn
$47K-$65K per year
Case managers with experience usually earn
$65K-$78K per year
Source: MSD and PSA; and Corrections, 2020.
Pay for case managers varies depending on their experience and employer.
- New case managers usually earn between $47,000 and $65,000 a year.
- Experienced case managers usually earn between $65,000 and $78,000.
- Principal case managers can earn up to $110,000.
Sources: Ministry of Social Development and Public Service Association, ‘Service Delivery Collective Agreement, 1 November 2018 to 31 October 2020’, 2020; and Department of Corrections website, 2020.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)
What you will do
Case managers may do some or all of the following:
- help people find work or return to work
- find housing for people or organise financial help
- help people to get treatment and attend programmes while they are in prison
- develop plans to help prisoners live successfully when they are released
- help clients who have made insurance claims
- write reports, case notes and recommendations
- give emergency assistance and support in a crisis
- present seminars on life skills and job seeking
- attend court or give evidence when a client complains.
Skills and knowledge
Case managers need to have:
- an understanding of how to assess information and write reports
- knowledge of relevant government policies and regulations
- knowledge of the communities they work in and social agencies
- an understanding of how to calculate percentages and money
- an understanding of the Treaty of Waitangi.
- usually work regular business hours
- usually work in offices, but may also visit clients at home, in hospital, at work or in prison
- may encounter angry or distressed clients.
What's the job really like?
How did you become a case manager?
"I was working as a security guard at the Palmerston North Work and Income office. Managers saw potential in me to be a case manager because of how well I got on with clients.
"When the opportunity came up, I put myself out there and the rest is history."
What do you do on a typical day on the job?
"I interview my clients face to face or on the phone and discuss employment options and plans with them.
"I invest a lot of time in working with everyone to gain full-time work and looking into ways to make it happen. For example, if they’re on their learner driver’s licence I will work with them to get their restricted licence if this is an obstacle for them in obtaining employment.
"Every client’s situation is different, so it’s important to me to tailor my service to meet each client’s need."
What do you most enjoy about your work?
"I really enjoy assisting my clients to obtain full-time work and making sure that they get everything that they are entitled to.
"I find it rewarding being able to relate to my clients and motivating them to do their best so that they can support their families and have a better future.
"My colleagues and I are also a close-knit team who support and help each other to do the best that we can for our clients."
Conan and Barbara, case managers at Rimutaka Prison, talk about their work – 1.05 mins (Video courtesy of Department of Corrections)
Barbara: Hi, my name is Barbara, and I'm a case manager.
Conan: I was working in parking, family situation changed, I had one addition on the way, and I decided to apply to Corrections.
Barbara: I was working as a caregiver in a rest home, and I'd been there quite a while, and it was a really awesome job, but then one day I saw this advert for Corrections in the local newspaper, and I looked at it and I thought, "Mmm, dunno, I reckon I could do that".
I know, when I do come to work, and I'm working with the prisoners, that I am making a difference – every day. It happened to me yesterday and it hopefully will happen again tomorrow. That's what really keeps me going.
Conan: If I can change someone's life, just that little bit, and improve their lives – and their family's – I'm happy. That's what gets me up in the morning.
There are no specific requirements to become a case manager, as training usually happens on the job. However, many employers prefer to hire people who have a tertiary qualification such as a New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing (Social and Community Services) (Level 4) or a New Zealand Certificate in Case Management (Level 5).
A qualification in nursing, social work or occupational therapy may also be useful.
Vulnerable Children Act
The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 means that if you have certain serious convictions, you can't be employed in a role where you are responsible for, or work alone with, children.
No specific secondary education is required for this job, but English and maths to at least NCEA Level 2 are useful.
Case managers need to be:
- excellent communicators and listeners
- good at making decisions and solving problems
- understanding and empathetic
- able to cope with stressful situations
- able to keep information private and work within a code of ethics
- able to relate to people from various cultures and build relationships
- well organised and reliable.
Useful experience for case managers includes:
- welfare agency work
- customer service
- youth or community work
- administration, processing or budgeting work
- work with families, children or people with disabilities
- counselling and support work
- work within an iwi/Māori social service.
Find out more about training
- 0508 754 557 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.skills.org.nz
- Department of Corrections
- 0800 437 668 - email@example.com - www.careers.corrections.govt.nz/
What are the chances of getting a job?
High demand for case managers in government agencies
Chances of getting a job as a case manager are good due to:
- high turnover of staff, sometimes due to case managers moving into other roles in their organisation
- more case managers needed to work in prisons
- the Ministry of Social Development's programme of work-focused case management.
Some agencies have regular case manager intakes throughout the year, when they hire groups of staff.
According to the Census, 6,198 case managers worked in New Zealand in 2018.
Most case managers work for government agencies
Most case managers work for large government agencies such as:
- the Ministry of Social Development
- Kāinga Ora
- the Department of Corrections.
- Department of Corrections website, accessed September 2020, (careers.corrections.govt.nz).
- Ministry of Social Development and Public Service Association, ‘Service Delivery Collective Agreement, 1 November 2018 to 31 October 2020’, accessed September 2020, (www.psa.org.nz).
- Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)
Progression and specialisations
Experienced case managers may progress to jobs such as:
- team leader or manager
- community or project co-ordinator
- training support person
- work broker
- disability co-ordinator.
Last updated 31 March 2021