The Pros and Cons of a Care Manager Career
Care managers work in a variety of fields, including healthcare, counseling and social work, and are responsible for managing the care of a patient or group of patients. Keep reading to learn more about the pros and cons of a care manager career to see if this is a field you'd like to pursue.
|Pros of a Care Manager Career|
|Above-average salary (median salary of $63,440)*|
|Can work in a variety of places (doctors' offices, insurance companies, private practice, hospitals, home health care agencies)**|
|Occupation is open to people from different educational backgrounds***|
|Opportunity to help people with chronic disabilities****|
|Cons of a Care Manager Career|
|Must deal with people in crisis situations*****|
|Overnight and weekend work may be required for emergencies******|
|Must keep current with and adapt to new regulations******|
|Licensure is required for some positions*****|
Sources: *Salary.com, **Case Management Society of America, ***iseek.org, ****National Academy of Certified Care Managers, *****Monster.com, ******U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Care managers assess patients to determine the kind of care and services needed. They then monitor patients to ensure the treatment is effective. Care managers collect and analyze patient data and look for ways to improve efficiency. They consult with physicians and other healthcare personnel, working as a team to provide medical services. Some care managers work directly with patients, and some perform assessments and make referrals over the telephone.
Care managers can come from a wide range of fields. They might have backgrounds in nursing, psychology, public health or social work, to name a few. According to a March 2012 search of job posts on Monster.com, most employers were looking for care managers who were registered nurses (RNs). According to Salary.com, the median annual salary of a case manager was around $63,440 in August 2015.
Care managers are typically trained in one of the health and human services fields, such as nursing, social work, psychology or gerontology. If you are interested in pursuing a care manager career, you should obtain a bachelor's degree in one of these fields. Employers often require a bachelor's degree along with some relevant experience, and some require a master's degree. Licensure or certification is sometimes required. For example, if the position requires an RN, you must have a current RN license. If the job opening calls for a social worker, certification may be required.
Job Postings from Real Employers
Employers usually require care managers to have experience and credentials in the health and human services field. Below are positions for care managers that were open in May 2012:
- A healthcare services firm in New York seeks a care manager to monitor substance abuse and mental health services. Duties include data collection and analysis, crisis intervention, patient advocacy and telephone triage. Candidates should have at least three years of managed care experience and RN credentials or a graduate degree in behavioral health or an associated field.
- A Texas behavioral health company is looking for a care manager with at least three years of experience in substance abuse or psychiatric care management. Duties include telephone assessments, referrals, case reviews and treatment evaluations. A master's degree in a related field and clinical licensure are required.
- A not-for-profit health plan company in Massachusetts wants to hire a nurse care manager to asses, implement and evaluate a managed care plan. Other responsibilities include identifying potential problems and offering solutions, coordinating care and educating members about wellness options. RN credentials, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or equivalent, current licensure and at least five years of experience are required.
How to Get an Edge in the Field
Membership in a professional organization for care managers, such as the Case Management Society of America or the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM) can give your career a boost. Some professional organizations provide educational resources that can help you earn the continuing education credits required in some jurisdictions for licensing or certification. They also offer networking opportunities. Some organizations post job openings for care managers on their websites, and some offer professional certifications. For example, the NAPGCM offers geriatric care manager certification for those who specialize in the field of senior care. Candidates must fulfill educational and work requirements established by the NAPGCM and possess credentials in the care management field to be eligible for this certification.
Other Career Paths
If the idea of a career in the health services field appeals to you, yet you'd like to increase your earning potential, you may be interested in becoming a physician assistant. Physician assistants perform many of the same functions as a medical doctor, such as conducting physical examinations, making diagnoses and prescribing medication, under the supervision of a physician. A master's degree is required for this occupation. According to the BLS, physician assistants earned a mean annual wage of $89,000 in May 2011. The job outlook for physician assistants is very good, with the number of jobs projected to increase by 30% between 2010 and 2020, which is much faster than average.
EMT or Paramedic
If you aren't ready to attend a college degree program but are interested in helping people who have medical problems, an emergency medical technician (EMT) or paramedic career is an option. These occupations typically don't require the same level of education as a care manager. EMTs and paramedics provide medical care to injured or sick people during emergencies. They determine the treatment required and transport patients to emergency facilities in ambulances. The mean annual wage for EMTs and paramedics in May 2011 was $34,000, according to the BLS, which also projected that the job outlook for paramedics and EMTs would grow 33%, much faster than average, between 2010 and 2020.