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Case Manager: Job & Career Information

Case mangers work as liaisons between patients and other health care professionals offering treatment and services. Read on for more information about careers, education, employment outlook and salary for case managers!

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Career Definition

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.

How to Become a Case Manager

Required Education

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 (www.ccmcertification.org).

Skills Required

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 both registered nurses and social workers, occupational groups that may include cases managers, is expected to grow by 19% nationwide between 2012 and 2022. During the same 10-year period, rehabilitation counselors will also see a faster-than-average growth in jobs, with substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors enjoying a 31%, or much faster than average, increase in employment nationwide (www.bls.gov)

As of March 2014, case managers with a registered nursing credential earned a median income of $70,192, according to Salary.com. Case managers without this credential earned a median salary of $59,258 at that same time.

Alternate Career Options

Occupational Therapists

Occupational therapists may be employed by doctor's 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 29% through 2022. Therapists actively employed in their profession in May 2012 were paid a median yearly salary of $75,400 (www.bls.gov).

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 faster-than-average rate of 21% nationwide from 2012-2022. The BLS also reported that the median annual wage for a social or community service manager in May 2012 was $59,970 (www.bls.gov).

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