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Case Manager

Kaiwhakahaere Kēhi

Alternative titles for this job

Case managers work with individuals and families to help them overcome hardship, and access social services and support.


Case managers usually earn

$50K-$65K per year

Source: Department of Corrections and Payscale, 2016.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as a case manager are good due to high turnover and increasing demand for their services.


Pay for case managers varies depending on their experience and employer.

  • Case managers usually start on around $50,000 a year. 
  • Experienced case managers usually earn up to $58,000.
  • Skilled case managers with experience at the Department of Corrections can earn up to $65,000.

Sources: Department of Corrections, 'Case Manager', 2016; Payscale, 'Case Manager Salary', 2016.

(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, return to work or become more independent
  • find housing for people or organise financial help
  • help people to get the right treatment and programmes while they are in prison, including work skills training
  • 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 the Treaty of Waitangi 
  • knowledge of relevant government policies and regulations
  • accurate and timely processing and computing skills
  • an understanding of how to calculate percentages and money
  • knowledge of the communities they work in and social agencies
  • an understanding of how to assess information and write reports.

Working conditions

Case managers:

  • usually work regular business hours
  • usually work in offices, but may also visit clients at home, hospital, work or in prison
  • may encounter angry or distressed clients.

What's the job really like?

Kenape Saupese

Kenape Saupese

Case Manager

What do you like about what you do?

"Giving back to those who helped raise me, I guess – my community.

"Also giving clients the sense that they can do things themselves and that the financial assistance we offer is temporary – and it should be. I enjoy setting some sort of platform for families to grow. I just like seeing people get work."

What kind of person makes a good case manager?

"Someone who is confident, honest and can manage their time. You need to work hard, like helping people, be onto it, and like seeing people grow and succeed.

"We witness people's struggles – you need to know the struggles are real and deal with them. The people we deal with, and the situations, are never the same.

"We are administrating people's lives, people's money. It's a big thing – people rely on us."

Conan and Barbara, case managers at Rimutaka Prison, talk about their work – 1.05 mins (Video courtesy of Department of Corrections)

Conan: Hi, my name is Conan, and I'm a case manager at Rimutaka Prison.

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.

Entry requirements

To become a case manager you usually need work experience in a customer contact role, and a full driver's licence.

Some employers may prefer you to have a relevant tertiary qualification, such as a National Certificate in Social Services, or a health qualification in nursing, social work or occupational therapy.

On-the-job training

Most agencies provide training for case managers, which can take up to six weeks. The Department of Corrections provides three weeks' training about the department's work, and specific training in case management which takes another nine weeks. 

Some agencies have a cadet programme. Under this programme, people with little work experience or qualifications may be hired. Training is done on the job and can count towards NZQA qualifications.

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.

Secondary education

NCEA Level 2 in maths and English is usually required.

Personal requirements

Case managers need to be:

  • excellent communicators and listeners
  • good at making decisions and solving problems
  • trustworthy and honest
  • understanding and empathetic
  • reliable, adaptable, resilient and 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 lifestyles and build relationships
  • well organised with good planning skills.

You need to be able to adjust to change because we do everything – phone calls, administration, reception, processing, seeing clients.

Photo: Kenape Saupese

Kenape Saupese

Case Manager

Useful experience

Useful experience for case managers includes:

  • welfare agency work
  • customer service work
  • youth or community work
  • administration, processing or budgeting work
  • work with families, children or people with disabilities
  • counselling and support work, or other work that involves helping people
  • work within an iwi/Māori social service
  • work with people from various cultures.

Find out more about training

The Skills Organisation
0508 754 557 - support@skills.org.nz - www.skills.org.nz
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

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, such as team leader or work broker
  • increasing numbers of prisoners, which means more case managers are needed to work in prisons in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Hawke's Bay and Whanganui
  • the Ministry of Social Development's programme of Work Focused Case Management, which aims to meet the goal of having more people out of welfare and in sustainable work.

Some agencies have regular case manager intakes throughout the year, when they hire groups of staff.

Government agencies the major employers of case managers

Most case managers work for large government agencies such as:

  • Ministry of Social Development and Work and Income
  • Housing New Zealand
  • Accident Compensation Corporation
  • Department of Corrections.


  • Cooksley, B, principal adviser recruitment, Department of Corrections, Careers New Zealand interview, June 2016.
  • Department of Corrections website, accessed June 2016, (frontlinejobs.corrections.govt.nz).
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2006-2014 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2015.
  • Ministry of Social Development, 'Strategic Intentions 2015-2019', (www.msd.govt.nz).

(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 other roles in their organisation such as:

  • team leader or manager
  • community or project co-ordinator
  • training support person
  • work broker
  • disability co-ordinator
  • public adviser.

They may also move into work as policy analyst.

Management training and study awards

Some case managers can apply for leadership training programmes. These can be run by in-house trainers or outside course providers.

Some agencies give study awards for case managers to do research or university study, or visit other agencies.

Case manager Kenape Saupese sits at a desk and types at a computer

Case manager Kenape Saupese writing case notes

Last updated 24 June 2020