Being a Case Manager is like being a PR rep for social and human service organizations as well as for the clients they serve. They coordinate and manage teams of social workers and other direct care specialists. They sometimes work directly with clients, but an emphasis on indirect care is often the distinction between them and case workers or social workers. They will need to know that job, but primarily they are the liaisons between patients and other health care professionals. They source the treatments or any other services that either party may need. Once you choose a specialization, those needed requirements will be understood. The first step is to begin on your education path.
Employers will expect a bachelor’s degree for entry-level positions. A bachelor’s of social work (BSW) is the preferred undergraduate degree; however, any of the following should suffice:
- health care administration
- public administration
- urban studies
A master’s degree should be sought for advancement. The preferred graduate degrees are as follows:
- social work
- public or business administration
- public health
It is really important to seek an internship while in school. Work experience is a must for employers to notice you. An internship sets the student up to find work directly post degree. Workers need to demonstrate the ability to manage and lead both services and clients.
According to the Commission for Case Manager Certification, a Case Manager ought to be familiar with legal and regulatory standards leading their work. It proves competency as a Case Manager and will help with employability.
Case Managers work in all types of facilities: rehabilitative centers, hospitals, hospice organizations, non profit organizations, and government agencies. They may work with the mentally ill, recovering addicts, immigrants, the homeless, ex-offenders, those with disabilities, senior citizens, families and children. Working within this diversity of life experiences obviously requires many different approaches for a Case Manager to meet the needs of clientele.
Some clients are in dire situations or going through major life transitions. This can be an emotional career path that doesn’t stay in the office when you clock out. Not only will you need compassion to help clients stay positive and improve their situations, you will need to exercise boundaries as you take on their needs.
Expect to communicate all day, whether that is directly with clients or through your team of other service providers. You will need excellent listening skills as well as speaking skills as you advocate for others.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment is projected to grow 21% form 2012 to 2022 in this field. Employment needs will definitely increase concerning the elderly population. The demand for services will drive employment growth and Case Managers will benefit.
Also according to the BLS, the median annual wage for Case Managers was $59,970 in May of 2012. The highest 10% earned more than $99,150.