Becoming a Care Manager: Salary Information & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of a career as a care manager? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary info to see if becoming a care manager is right for you.
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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.

Career Info

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.

Requirements

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

Physician Assistant

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.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Purdue University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA: Health Care Management
      • Master of Healthcare Admin
      • Master: Management/Health Care Mgmt
      • Master of Health Informatics
      • MS in Nursing
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Healthcare Admin
      • Master of Healthcare Admin
    Certificate
      • Medical Office Administration Certificate
      • Medical Billing and Coding Certificate
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Health Care Administration
      • M.S. in Health Informatics
    Bachelor's
      • BS in Health Care Administration
      • B.S. in Health Sciences
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Columbia Southern University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA - Health Care Management
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Health Care Administration/Emer Med Service
    Associate's
      • AS - Health Information Science
      • AS - Health Information Science Med. Coding Emph
    Certificate
      • Graduate Certificate - Health Care Management
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Walden University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) - General
      • Master of Business Administration (MBA) - Healthcare Management
      • Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) - Leadership & Organizational Development
      • Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) - Social Entrepreneurship & Innovation
      • Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) - Systems & Policy
    Bachelor's
      • BS Healthcare Management
      • BS in Business Administration (BSBA) - Healthcare Management
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Liberty University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • DBA: Healthcare Management
    Master's
      • MA: Medical Sciences: Business Management
      • MS: Healthcare Administration: Accounting
      • MS: Healthcare Administration: Leadership
      • MS: Healthcare Administration: Marketing
      • MS: Healthcare Administration: Non-Profit Management
      • MS: Healthcare Administration: Public Administration
    Bachelor's
      • BS: Healthcare Administration
      • BS: Informatics: Healthcare Informatics
    Associate's
      • AAS: Medical Office Assistant
  • Campus and Online Programs
    6. The Chicago School

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Dual Enrollment: Master of Health Service Administration and Master of Public Health
      • Master of Health Services Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Colorado Christian University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Health Care Administration, A.S.
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Independence University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Health Services Management (BS)
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Healthcare Admin and Management
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Healthcare Admin and Management
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Bryant & Stratton College

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Health Services Admin
    Associate's
      • AS - Medical Administrative Assistant
      • AS - Medical Reimbursement and Coding
    Certificate
      • Health Services Admin Diploma
      • Medical Office Assisting Diploma
      • Medical Billing and Coding Diploma

Featured Schools

Purdue University Global

  • MBA: Health Care Management
  • Bachelor: Healthcare Admin
  • Medical Office Administration Certificate

Which subject are you interested in?

Grand Canyon University

  • MS in Health Care Administration
  • M.S. in Health Informatics
  • BS in Health Care Administration
  • B.S. in Health Sciences

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Columbia Southern University

  • MBA - Health Care Management
  • BS - Health Care Administration/Emer Med Service
  • AS - Health Information Science
  • Graduate Certificate - Health Care Management

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Walden University

  • Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) - General
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA) - Healthcare Management
  • BS Healthcare Management
  • BS in Business Administration (BSBA) - Healthcare Management

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Liberty University

  • DBA: Healthcare Management
  • MA: Medical Sciences: Business Management
  • BS: Healthcare Administration
  • AAS: Medical Office Assistant

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The Chicago School

  • Dual Enrollment: Master of Health Service Administration and Master of Public Health
  • Master of Health Services Administration

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Colorado Christian University

  • Health Care Administration, A.S.

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Independence University

  • Health Services Management (BS)

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