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

Feb 27, 2019

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

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  • 0:03 Becoming a Certified…
  • 0:37 Career Requirements
  • 1:31 Step 1: Earn a Degree
  • 2:53 Step 2: Gain Work Experience
  • 3:40 Step 3: Earn Certification
  • 4:01 Step 4: Maintain Certification

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Becoming a Certified Care Manager

So you think you might like to 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. Care 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

So, what are the 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 Some employers require a nursing license; certification is available through the National Academy of Certified Care Managers
Experience 3 years of supervised care management experience
Key Skills Communication, observation, counseling, coordination, interpersonal, critical-thinking, interviewing, and document analysis skills
Median Salary $66,640 per year (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 an 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 for certification candidates. Using this handbook to study may make it more likely that an individual passes the exam on their first try.

Step 3: Earn Certification

The NACCM's Certified Care Manager 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.

Obtaining a degree, gaining work experience, earning certification, and maintaining certification are the steps to take to make the most of a career as a certified care manager.

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