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Human Service Careers: Case Manager

January 12, 2017

Photo of female case manager speaking with male client at a conference table.

A case manager is uniquely qualified to understand client needs and desires, helping advocate for and coordinate appropriate care. As a result, this fills an essential role in the social services and health care fields, as well as in several specialty areas. Follow along for more information on this career and to learn how to become a case manager.

What Is a Case Manager?

A case manager supports individuals and families in meeting their comprehensive health needs through communication and available resources. This is accomplished through case management, or a collaborative process of assessment, planning, facilitation, care coordination, evaluation and advocacy, according to the Case Management Society of America (CMSA).

“Case management serves as a means for achieving client wellness and autonomy through advocacy, communication, education, identification of service resources and service facilitation,” the CMSA says. “The case manager helps identify appropriate providers and facilities throughout the continuum of services, while ensuring that available resources are being used in a timely and cost-effective manner in order to obtain optimum value for both the client and the reimbursement source.”

Different case management models are used depending on the environment. Employers in this profession can vary widely, as a case manager can work in medicine, social work and other fields such as behavioral health. A case manager may work in environments such as hospitals, mental health clinics, crisis centers, legal advocacy organizations, welfare agencies and schools.

Case managers earn an annual median salary of $38,057, according to PayScale.

How to Become a Case Manager

A limited number of case managers enter the field with an associate degree, and some case managers have a master’s degree. Most case managers have a bachelor’s degree that relates to their field of specialty, and they often complete an internship at a clinic or agency prior to obtaining full-time employment.

Case managers may become certified by the Commission for Case Manager Certification (CCMC). The organization ensures that more than 40,000 board-certified case managers “possess the education, skills, and experience needed to deliver appropriate services to all they serve,” the CCMC says. To be eligible for the exam, applicants must meet specific licensure/education and employment qualifications.

  • Applicants need licensure/certification in a health or human services discipline that allows the professional to conduct an assessment independently, or have a bachelor’s or graduate degree in social work, nursing or another health or human services field promoting well-being of the persons being served.
  • Applicants need to have one of the following: 12 months of acceptable full-time case management employment experience supervised by a board-certified case manager; 24 months of acceptable full-time case management employment experience; or 12 months of acceptable full-time case management employment experience as a supervisor of individuals who provide case management services.

Advocating for Others

Grace College’s online human services degree prepares students to advocate for those in need of assistance and support. Graduates gain the knowledge and skills to enter fields like case management.

This GOAL (Grace Opportunities for Adult Learners) program is designed for adults who are currently balancing work and personal commitments. It can be completed in as little as 16 months, is priced substantially below most degree completion programs and is taught by outstanding and understanding faculty who are geared toward teaching adults.