Case managers help people live better lives by facilitating the specialized care and services required to meet their needs. Individuals pursuing case manager careers can find work in a variety of settings, such as human service agencies, social service facilities, hospitals, mental health providers and substance abuse recovery facilities.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports case manager employment is expected to grow much faster than the average occupation in the coming years. Job growth will occur through an expanding population, increased need for social and human services, and higher demand for mental health and substance abuse treatment. While job openings are expected to grow, job seekers with advanced education will have the best prospects.
Case managers facilitate and coordinate healthcare, mental health services, and developmental and educational programs for children, adults and families. They may provide direct instructions and early intervention to help people avoid health or learning problems. Case managers conduct screenings to determine eligibility for services and often follow up after care has been administered.
Because most case managers work as part of a team, good interpersonal skills are necessary for success in a case manager career. Professionals in this field are required to keep accurate records of their clients’ assessments, program participation and outcomes. Additional paperwork is often required, such as federal- and state-mandated forms and insurance filings.
A case manager’s career can be spent in an office, hospital, clinic, government agency or private practice. While most case managers work a 40-hour week, evening or weekend hours may be required. Travel is sometimes necessary. Because of the nature of their work, a case manager’s job can be stressful.
Salaries vary for case manager jobs. The BLS reports that the median salary for case managers was $38,200 in May 2009. National salary data on PayScale.com indicated that case manager salaries ranged between $28,757 and $45,815 in July 2010. Recent graduates with a bachelor’s degree will generally have an income at the lower end of that salary range, and can improve their marketability and attain substantially higher earnings with further experience and education.
Case manager jobs generally require a bachelor’s degree in applied psychology or social work. Bachelor’s degree holders may start out in an entry-level role and receive employer assistance to complete a master’s degree. Case managers often advance their careers through further education and specialization.
A first step for individuals interested in case manager careers could be a bachelor’s degree in applied psychology. Coursework typically includes lifespan development and psychology, multicultural issues, learning and motivation, social psychology and abnormal psychology.
An applied psychology education prepares graduates to:
Many agencies offer opportunities for continuing education. It’s possible to gain an entry-level job with a bachelor’s degree and use an employer’s tuition assistance program to pay for a master’s degree.
Case managers must demonstrate solid critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, and be able to communicate well and work effectively in a team setting. Having a calm demeanor and willingness to advocate for others will also ensure success for a case manager. If these are qualities you possess, then a case manager career could be a great fit for your skills.