Career Profile: Case Manager

What They Do

Case managers work with a variety of different environments and function as liaisons between clients and health care professionals who administer treatment and services. A case manager’s responsibilities consist of client care and health services. Often, case managers work with elderly patients in at-home service situations, recovering substance abusers, the chronically ill, hospice patients or people with disabilities.

Many of the responsibilities of a case worker hinge on communicating with the clients and determining what their therapeutic medical, psycho-social and psychiatric needs are. This involves conducting intake interviews, coordinating services, obtaining additional resources for the clients and maintaining records.

A case manager also helps clients to develop their own treatment and recovery plans. This may involve setting schedules and routines, establishing treatment goals and reviewing and evaluating the effectiveness of former treatments and programs. Case workers also maintain records of their clients’ progress and responses. This requires observation and communication with both the client at the people around the client. By maintaining these records, a case worker can improve or change the results of a treatment plan. Along with the client, the case manager can rewrite policies, redesign processes and routines and implementing other changes that yield better results. Case managers also help their clients to access other resources that can aid in their progress. This includes working with government agencies to help their clients receive benefits or connecting clients with support groups and community resources.

Career Growth

Though there is no specific data on case managers, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the field of social work is projected to grow 19 percent between 2012 and 2022, which is a much faster rate than the average occupational growth. This may be due to the aging population of the Baby Boomer generation requiring more health, medical and social services.

Case managers may consider advancing their careers by earning a master’s degree in social work in order to acquire a position as a social worker.

Salary Potential

According to the BLS, those who work in the health care and social work field make around $49,830 a year. Most work in local, state or private hospitals, though some work in ambulatory health care services, nursing and residential care facilities and social assistance agencies and organizations.

Education Required

Generally, the required level of education for an entry-level case management position is a bachelor’s degree. Many case managers earn a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work. Undergraduate programs in social work focus on equipping students with the social work knowledge, values and competency skills that are necessary for their chosen field. These programs use the case study method to help students gain knowledge about human behavior and the social context of their environment. Other subjects include: social welfare policies and services, multicultural social work, human diversity, social and economic justice, social work ethical standards and social work research methods. These programs also require students to complete final evaluations, a practicum and field placement or internships.

A Bachelor of Arts in Social Work program should encourage their graduates to pursue licensure and certification as soon as or before graduation. Depending on the state in which a case manager lives, the certification and licensure requirements may differ. The Commission for Case Manager Certification offers professional certifications for case managers who wish to show their competency and skills. The Association of Social Work Boards reports on the requirements and licensure-needs of all kinds of social worker designations.