Career Definition of a Case Manager
Case managers use their knowledge of client care and health services to help patients stay as healthy and functional as possible. They frequently work with elderly patients in need of at-home services or recovering substance abusers. Their clients may also include chronically ill or hospice patients and people with disabilities. Specialized case managers include rehabilitation counselors, medical social workers and treatment specialists.
|Educational and Licensing Requirements||Associate's or bachelor's degree; additional licensing and certification may be required|
|Job Skills||Ability to efficiently balance competing interests, good communication and interpersonal skills, compassionate and professional attitude|
|Median Salary (2019)*||$39,342 (case managers)|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)**||15% (registered nurses), 16% (social workers), 13% (rehabilitation counselors) and 23% (substance abuse, mental health and behavioral disorder counselors)|
Sources: *PayScale.com, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Candidates with an associate or bachelor's degree in health care administration, psychology or social work may be eligible for a position as a case manager. Some case managers are also nurses or social workers who hold undergraduate or graduate degrees that are relevant to their area of work. According to the Commission for Case Manager Certification, case managers must also be familiar with the legal and regulatory standards governing their work. Although optional, a professional certification can provide proof of competency in case management.
Case managers must balance the needs of their patients, health care institutions and insurance companies tactfully and ethically. Communication and interpersonal skills can be helpful when serving as an advocate for others. Case managers must also have the ability to be both compassionate and professional in their dealings with clients.
Employment and Salary Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of registered nurses is expected to grow by 15% and employment of social workers by 16% between 2016 and 2026, two occupational groups that may include cases managers. During the same 10-year period, rehabilitation counselors are expected to see a growth in jobs of 13%, while substance abuse, mental health and behavioral disorder counselors are predicted to enjoy a 23%, or much faster than average, increase in employment nationwide. As of 2019, PayScale.com reported that case managers made a median annual salary of $39,342.
Alternate Career Options
Similar career options in this field include:
Occupational therapists may be employed by doctors' offices, health care facilities, hospitals or nursing homes, where they help disabled, ill or injured clients perform everyday activities. A Master of Occupational Therapy or similar degree is standard for obtaining a position; aspiring professionals will also need to be licensed or registered with the state. The BLS reports that employment prospects for occupational therapists nationwide are projected to increase by a much-faster-than-average rate of 24% from 2016-2026. Therapists actively employed in this profession in May 2017 were paid a median yearly salary of $83,200.
Social and Community Service Managers
Social and community service managers gather information, assess local needs and develop programs for different populations, including the chronically hungry, homeless or unemployed. In addition to professional experience, ideal candidates will have a master's degree in public administration or health, business or social work; individual employers may consider candidates with a bachelor's degree in a relevant field of study. According to the BLS, the number of jobs for social and community service managers is expected to increase at a rate of 18% nationwide from 2016-2026. The BLS also reported that the median annual wage for social and community service managers in May 2017 was $64,100.