How Do I Become a Case Manager?

If you enjoy working with and helping people and are good at solving problems and discovering resources, you might be wondering how to become a case manager. The healthcare field is vast and varied, but whether patients are dealing with psychological conditions, critical injuries or illnesses or a combination of concerns, they and their families often need help accessing the right resources. That’s where a case manager comes in. Case management is a specific discipline of social work in which a healthcare provider of some kind helps patients organize, access, and make the most of the healthcare services they need.

Case managers may come from diverse areas of the healthcare industry, including nursing or social work. The occupation falls under the category of social services or human services. As you might expect, success in this position requires excellent listening and problem-solving skills as well as compassion for patients. Only by talking to patients and their families can a case manager determine what problems their clients are facing, how well medical and support services are currently working for the client, and what resources are still needed. Part of a case manager’s job responsibilities may be to help patients set realistic, attainable goals toward achieving wellness. A case manager’s clients are often children, the elderly, or adults dealing with a serious physical or mental injury, illness, or disability.

Although the term “manager” is in the job title, case managers typically don’t manage people. Instead, they collaborate with other healthcare providers, such as doctors, counselors, and social welfare programs as needed to coordinate the resources and services that give patients the best chance of reaching their goals. Case managers play a vital role in the team treating the patient.

To begin preparing for a career as a case manager, students should first earn a bachelor’s degree in either nursing or social work from an accredited school. Further education is often needed, especially if the student wants to work in a hospital setting. Master’s-level degrees in social work help students attain the knowledge and skills they need. Aspiring case managers can also seek certification through the Case Management Society of America. While not necessarily a requirement for securing a position in the field, this certification shows a candidate’s dedication to the field and may give him or her a competitive edge in the job market.

The median annual salary for this position is $69,407 for case managers with a nursing background and $58,640 for those without a nursing background. For many case managers, salary is only one consideration. Often, these professionals enter this position because they have a passion for helping others and enjoy listening to patients’ stories and assisting them in solving problems. If you are a good, compassionate listener and possess the ingenuity, creativity, and organizational skills to find the right resources, knowing how to become a case manager could be your first step toward a fulfilling new career in healthcare and human social services.

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