How to Become a Certified Care Manager: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Learn how to become a certified care manager. Research the education requirements, licensure information and experience required for starting a career in care management.

Should I Become a Certified Care Manager?

A care manager assesses a patient's long- and short-term needs and works with professional caregivers to plan a program that addresses those needs. These managers' job duties cover five main areas: assessing and identifying client strengths and needs, establishing a plan of care, implementing a care plan, monitoring a patient's progress and acting professionally. Travel to meet with clients is often necessary.

Career Requirements

Degree Level A minimum of an associate's degree or RN diploma is required for certification
Degree Fields A field related to care management, which includes rehabilitation, registered nursing, public health, human services, psychology, gerontology, counseling and social work
Licensure or Certification No license required; certification is available through the National Academy of Certified Care Managers
Experience Minimum of three years, paid full-time supervisory and two years direct-patient care experience is required
Key Skills Communication, observation, counseling, coordination, interpersonal, critical-thinking, interviewing and document analysis skills
Salary (2014) $66,640 per year (Median salary for registered nurses)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Earn a Degree

The National Academy of Certified Care Managers (NACCM) requires that applicants have at least either an associate's degree in social work, counseling, nursing, public health or a comparable discipline or a RN diploma to be eligible for certification. Associate's degree programs in social and community health usually require completion of coursework and a field experience. Classes in these 2-year programs cover topics like wellness for life, anatomy, physiology, and social welfare programs.

RN diploma programs require approximately one year to complete. Classes in these programs cover topics like anatomy, physiology, microbiology, nutrition, psychology and chemistry. All states require nurses to be licensed, generally by passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) offered by the National Council State Boards of Nursing.

Success Tip:

  • Participate in a field experience. Students in associate's degree programs and nursing diploma programs may be able to complete multiple field experiences, possibly in a care management firm. Interning with a care manager allows individuals to network with professionals in the field and perform some of the job tasks they will be responsible for completing in their jobs.

Step 2: Gain Work Experience

The NACCM requires that diploma and associate's degree holders have at least three years of supervisory care management experience and two years of direct patient-care experience in a field such as social work, mental health counseling or care management. This means that at least five years of work experience distributed according to NACCM's guidelines must be acquired prior to seeking certification.

Success Tip:

  • Prepare for the certification exam. The NACCM offers a handbook containing a test description and question samples to certification candidates. Using this handbook to study may make it more like that an individual passes the exam on their first try.

Step 3: Earn Certification

The NACCM's Care Manager, Certified (CMC) credential identifies the holder as meeting a high standard of experience and care in the field. Earning this certification requires passing an exam. Exams are offered twice a year at more than 400 testing sites located throughout the nation.

Step 4: Maintain Certification

The CMC certification lasts for three years. To renew it, individuals must complete at least 15 hours of continuing education every year for a total of 45 hours and provide documentation of engaging in the practice of care management during the three year period.

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