Life Care Planner: Job Duties & Career Requirements

Life care planners are responsible for projecting the future costs of medical equipment and services for ill or catastrophically injured patients. Continue reading to learn more about professional requirements, useful skills and alternative employment options for life care planners and make an informed decision about your career.

Career Definition for a Life Care Planner

Life care planners use recommendations provided by physicians to determine the cost of a patient's care. They also develop patient support systems, taking into consideration a client's level of impairment and age. On an average day, life care planners can spend between three and four hours with their patients. The other part of the day may be devoted to marketing, record-keeping and developmental tasks.

Education Bachelor's degree in nursing or a related field, plus licensure within that chosen healthcare field
Job Skills Working knowledge of medical, healthcare, and legal systems
Median Salary (2015)* $29,520 (all healthcare support occupations)
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 23% (all healthcare support occupations)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Most life care planners are registered nurses or other licensed healthcare professionals who hold a bachelor's degree in nursing, physical therapy or a related field. A professional credential is available from the Commission on Health Care Certification (CHCC), which requires a minimum of 120 hours of training to complete. Course topics include studies in disability and medical case management, life care development, health care finance and other related topics (www.ichcc.org).

Required Skills

Life care planners must have extensive knowledge of both the medical and legal fields, which can help them determine the cost of services and equipment, as well as payouts associated with work-related or other injuries. Interpersonal skills are key, as life planners must often communicate with seriously injured or ill patients on a daily basis.

Career Outlook

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not publish data specific for life care planners, it does predict job growth of 23% for all healthcare support occupations, much faster than the average job growth, between 2014 and 2024. Employment opportunities for registered nurses are projected to grow 16% during the same 10-year period (www.bls.gov).

Alternate Career Options

Similar careers in this field include:

Health Educators and Community Health Workers

Health educators and community health workers develop wellness programs and gather information for colleges, hospitals, nonprofit organizations and physicians. Minimum educational requirements for community health workers include a high school diploma and short-term on-the-job training; aspiring educators usually need a bachelor's degree in health education or promotion and a Certified Health Education Specialist credential. The BLS has projected a 13%, or faster-than-average, growth in jobs for health educators and community health workers nationwide from 2014-2024. As reported by the BLS, in May 2015, health educators and community health workers were paid average yearly salaries of $43,840 ('www.bls.gov).

Social and Human Service Assistants

Social and human service assistants work under the direction of more senior-level professionals to help people in need, including the disabled, elderly, homeless and mentally ill. Their responsibilities can include helping clients apply for public assistance or find counseling, personal care and rehabilitation services. Entry-level positions require a minimum of a high school diploma; candidates with a certificate or a 2-year degree in behavioral or social science, gerontology or human services may be preferred. Between 2014 and 2024, the BLS has projected a 11% growth, faster than average, in jobs for social and human service assistants, who earned average annual wages of $30,830 in May 2015 (www.bls.gov).


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