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How to Become a Care Manager

Duties, Responsibilities, Requirements, Certifications, Job Outlook, and Salary

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If you possess strong communication skills, enjoy championing the health of others, and excel at connecting patients with support systems for continuing care, becoming a Care Manager could be a great career choice for you.

Care Managers are passionate advocates who act as the point of contact between a patient and a practice. They are essential to a healthcare organization’s success and often fill a variety of roles.

One of the many perks of this position is the ability to work remotely. In fact, we featured Care Managers on our list of the best work from home nursing jobs. Therefore, we’ve put together this career guide to help you better understand the role of a Care Manager.

(Click here to see our full list of the best work from home nursing jobs).

Continue reading to learn more about the requirements, responsibilities, training, salary, and job outlook of Care Managers.

Care Manager Definition

What is a Care Manager?

Nurse Care Managers are responsible for helping patients diagnosed with complex illnesses, recuperating from a traumatic clinical event, or handling multiple clinical co-morbidities. They are responsible for communicating with health care providers, managing medications, and researching treatment options for their patients.

Care Manager Duties & Responsibilities

What Does a Care Manager Do?

Nurse Care Managers lead the development and management of a complete, individualized care plan with each patient. They support their patients by providing them with quality care through a number of tasks.

Some of the day-to-day job responsibilities of a Care Manager include:

  • Answering patient calls and secure messages
  • Performing appropriate triage and escalation of routine
  • Assessing, identifying, and closing clinical or non-clinical gaps in patient care
  • Completing proactive telephonic consultations to screen for new issues, reassessing the patient, updating the care plan, and evaluating progress
  • Evaluating changes in patient symptoms and determining next steps
  • Supporting the safe transfer of the patient to their PCP, ED, or hospital
  • Educating patients and families on treatment options, such as cost, efficacy, and possible side effects
  • Providing disease and symptom-specific patient education
  • Coordinating the delivery of clinical and community services
  • If appropriate, documenting the patient’s wishes using Advanced Care Planning documents
  • Acting as a liaison and advocate with the patient’s family, providers, facilities, etc.
  • Participating in chart reviews and grand rounds to facilitate care coordination for complex patients

Where Do Care Managers Work?

Since a Care Manager conducts phone interviews and coordinates care, many of their tasks fall under the virtual realm and don’t always require in-person meetings. This means they can usually meet their job requirements from home. So even before the pandemic, you could find remote positions for a nursing Care Manager.

These remote professionals may work at home or in hospitals, inpatient care centers, larger medical facilities, and more.

Care Manager Hours

Care Managers typically work during regular business hours and tend to fill full-time positions at 40+ hours per week. On occasion, they may need to work outside of regular business hours to assist their patients.

Care Manager Skills

Becoming a Care Manager might be a great fit for you if you:

  • Offer strong interpersonal communication skills
  • Build positive relationships with patients
  • Coordinate with other healthcare professionals
  • Enjoy organization, sending emails, making telephone calls, etc.
  • Feel passionate about chronic health issues and helping others
  • Excel at multitasking, problem solving, and time management
  • Are resourceful and eager to find solutions to problems
  • Approach tasks with a patient and dedicated mindset
  • Work well with others, various types of personalities, etc.

BSN sign on a stack of books with a stethoscope

Care Manager Schooling & Certification

How Long Does It Take to Become a Care Manager?

What Degree Do You Need to Be a Care Manager?

In order to be qualified for the role of a Care Manager, you will likely need to earn an advanced nursing degree. Most Care Managers start by obtaining a bachelor’s degree from an accredited program with an emphasis on public health, health information management, or nursing, such as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. It’s vital that they also obtain an active RN license so that they can show their credentials as well as their experience.

It’s also recommended that Care Managers pursue certification.

If you’d like to become a Care Manager, then you’ll need to take the following steps:

1. Earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree (BSN)

The first step to becoming a Care Manager is to earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Candidates of BSN programs must usually submit various application materials, such as academic transcripts, GRE scores, personal essays, and letters of recommendation.

The core nursing classes during a BSN program often include the following topics:

  • Professional nursing
  • Health assessment
  • Family nursing
  • Medical and surgical care
  • Nursing management
  • Psychosocial nursing

2. Pass the NCLEX-RN Licensure Exam

The next step is to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) developed two exams to test the competence of aspiring RNs and LPNs/LVNs.

Learn more about the NCLEX and what to expect with this detailed FAQ section.

(You can also click here to learn more on how to become a nurse).

3. Consider Certification

While certification is optional for Care Managers, it would likely be beneficial to pursue it. The Professional Association of Health Care Office Management offers certification in medical management, while the American Health Information Management Association provides health information management certification. In addition, the American College of Health Care Administrators offers the Certified Nursing Home Administrator and Certified Assisted Living Administrator credentials.

Care Manager School Cost

So, how much does it cost to become a Care Manager? As previously stated, most Care Managers have earned a bachelor’s degree. If they choose to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, the cost will depend on the institution.

However, you can probably expect to pay anywhere from $40,000 to $100,000 when this process is all said and done.

Work from Home Opportunities

In order to become a Remote Care Manager, you will normally need to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, an active RN license, and at least three years of related clinical experience. In addition, aspiring remote Care Managers should gain experience in telephonic care management, case management, home care, or hospice.

You can start by searching for Remote Care Manager positions on job recruiting sites like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, FlexJobs, and LinkedIn.

(Related: Interested in a career in nursing? Click here to discover the highest paying cities for nurses.)

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Care Manager’s Salary

How Much Does a Care Manager Make?

According to Salary.com, the average annual salary for Care Managers is around $83,000 per year or about $42 per hour. Although the range typically falls between $75,000 and $99,000, Care Managers that earn salaries in the 90th percentile can make more than $113,000 per year!

(Click here to learn about the highest paid nursing jobs).

Care Manager Job Outlook

Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) may not offer specific job outlook data for Care Managers at this time, they do predict great overall growth for Medical and Health Services Managers and Registered Nurses throughout the next decade. According to the BLS, overall employment of Medical and Health Services Managers is projected to grow 32 percent by 2030.

Why Pursue a Career as a Care Manager?

If you’re looking for a new career in the medical field, you might want to consider becoming a Care Manager. In this role, you can build relationships with patients, ensure chronic conditions are managed properly, and reduce hospitalizations as well as medical costs for patients. Your skills fill a crucial role in the public health infrastructure across the globe. In addition, you can champion individual health while searching for potential issues early in the management process.

If you’re an aspiring nurse but don’t know where to begin, you can earn your Vocational Nursing diploma, BSN degree, or enroll in any of our other nursing programs at Unitek College.