How to Become a Nurse Case Manager | Salary & Guide 2024

11 Min Read Published June 26, 2024
How to Become a Nurse Case Manager

 A nurse case manager, also known as a care coordinator, specializes in organizing and coordinating patient care and treatment by all members of the care team.

In most healthcare settings, multiple specialties and numerous doctors can attend to a single patient. Nurse case managers ensure everyone works as a team to provide the best care for the patient. This guide will cover everything you need to know about becoming a nurse case manager, including education requirements, certification, and salary expectations. 

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GCU's College of Nursing and Health Care Professions has a nearly 35-year tradition of preparing students to fill evolving healthcare roles as highly qualified professionals. GCU offers a full spectrum of nursing degrees, from a pre-licensure BSN degree to a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

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RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Purdue Global

At Purdue Global, discover a faster, more affordable way to earn your Nursing degree. Purdue Global is committed to keeping your tuition costs as low as possible and helping you find the most efficient path to your degree.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, but certain programs have state restrictions. Check with Purdue for details.

Western Governors University

WGU's award-winning online programs are created to help you succeed while graduating faster and with less debt. WGU is a CCNE accredited, nonprofit university offering nursing bachelor's and master's degrees.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Georgetown University
Nursing@Georgetown delivers Georgetown University’s MS in Nursing program online, preparing RNs with a BSN to pursue certification in an APRN specialty. Students can earn their degree in as few as 19 months.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, excluding NY and WA.

What is a Nurse Case Manager?

A case manager is a specialized registered nurse (RN) who works with patients and providers to determine the specific care required and the best options for that care. By collaborating with multiple specialties, RN case managers ensure patients receive quality medical care.

Since patient needs vary based on their condition, nurse case managers examine each case individually. They act as patient advocates to meet their patients' needs effectively and efficiently.

Nurse case management is also considered one of the easiest nursing jobs because of its hours. Many case management nurses work regular 8-hour days, unlike other types of nurses who work 12-hour shifts or have to be on-call. 

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Nurse Case Manager Salary

The average annual nurse case manager salary is $98,869 or $48 per hour, according to ZipRecruiter. Salary.com reports similar data, stating that RN case managers earn approximately $94,892 annually. These estimates exceed the average RN salary in the US of $86,070 per year, as reported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Nurse Case Manager Pay by Experience

You can increase your nurse case manager salary with experience. The longer you work in the field, the more you can earn:

  • Entry level: $71,229 annually; $34.45 per hour
  • Early-career: $74,322 annually; $34.89 per hour
  • Mid-career: $78,366 annually; $37.03 per hour
  • Experienced: $80,992 annually; $39.79 per hour
  • Late-career: $83,779 annually; $40.68 per hour

Source: Payscale, Retrieved June 26, 2024

Highest Paying Cities for Nurse Case Managers

Case managers have reported the highest salaries in the following locations as of June 2024, according to ZipRecruiter:

State Annual Salary Hourly Wage
San Jose, CA $126,731 $60.93
Oakland, CA $123,942 $59.59
Hayward, CA $123,732 $59.49
Antioch, CA $123,648 $59.45
Seattle, WA $123,052 $59.16

Nurse case managers are often salaried, which means they have fewer opportunities for overtime. However, you can discuss overtime potential during your salary negotiations. If you land an hourly position, you can work overtime to maximize your nurse case manager income.

As with all jobs in the nursing field, earning potential increases with additional education and experience. Nurses typically receive a raise during annual employee performance reviews, and certifications can give nurses an additional bump in their paychecks.

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How to Become a Nurse Case Manager

Step 1: Become a Registered Nurse

To become a nurse case manager, you first must become a registered nurse (RN). RN licensure requires graduation from an accredited nursing program. You can earn your RN license by earning a 2-year Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a 4-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

You'll then sit for the national licensure exam, called the NCLEX-RN. Once you pass the test, you can apply for RN licensure with your state board of nursing.

Step 2: Gain Nursing Experience

Nurse case managers have a wealth of clinical experience that gives them the skills and qualifications they need to do their jobs effectively. Before pursuing an RN case manager position, you should acquire five years of nursing experience.

Step 3: Apply for Nurse Case Manager Jobs

As you earn experience, seek out entry-level case management jobs that allow you to work under the direct supervision of an experienced RN care coordinator. These roles can prepare you for certification and becoming a senior nurse case manager.

Step 4: Earn a Nurse Case Manager Certification

Nurse case managers can select from several certifications that demonstrate their skills and competencies, including:

Often, employers prefer candidates with verifiable skills in addition to experience. Earning one or more of these credentials can give you a competitive edge when applying for nurse case management roles. 

Popular Online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Programs

Sponsored
Grand Canyon University

GCU's College of Nursing and Health Care Professions has a nearly 35-year tradition of preparing students to fill evolving healthcare roles as highly qualified professionals. GCU offers a full spectrum of nursing degrees, from a pre-licensure BSN degree to a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Purdue Global

At Purdue Global, discover a faster, more affordable way to earn your Nursing degree. Purdue Global is committed to keeping your tuition costs as low as possible and helping you find the most efficient path to your degree.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, but certain programs have state restrictions. Check with Purdue for details.

Western Governors University

WGU's award-winning online programs are created to help you succeed while graduating faster and with less debt. WGU is a CCNE accredited, nonprofit university offering nursing bachelor's and master's degrees.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Georgetown University
Nursing@Georgetown delivers Georgetown University’s MS in Nursing program online, preparing RNs with a BSN to pursue certification in an APRN specialty. Students can earn their degree in as few as 19 months.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, excluding NY and WA.

What Do Nurse Case Managers Do?

Nurse case managers are primarily in charge of coordinating patient care. Their duties include identifying the resources and services best suited for each patient. This work is crucial because it helps decrease hospitalizations for high-risk patients, streamlines care, and customizes treatment plans for individualized assistance.

The most common patient population cared for by nurse case managers are those with chronic health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or COPD. You can expect to manage multiple patients simultaneously as an RN case manager. Additionally, you'll be assigned to those with chronic conditions that experience frequent hospitalizations or outpatient care visits.

Some of the most common nurse case manager duties include:

  • Create and manage client-focused case management plan and long-term health care plan for patients with chronic or serious conditions
  • Identify patient needs and connect them to available services and resources
  • Develop a tracking system for patient care coordination and care management across the continuum, including care transitions, primary and specialty care
  • Oversee systems for identifying high-risk patients through EMR, referrals, registries from health insurance payers
  • Educate the client/family/caregiver about the case management process and offer guidance as they navigate complex medical decisions
  • Partner with external case management programs to coordinate care
  • Provide follow-up services to patients, including booking future appointments, following up on test results, and checking in after inpatient discharge or ED visits
  • Act as clinical liaison for Payer Based Care Management programs

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Where Do Nurse Case Managers Work?

Nurse case managers can work in various settings across the healthcare field. However, the most common workplaces for RN case managers include:

  • Hospitals
  • Insurance Companies
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Medical supply companies
  • Hospice
  • Palliative care
  • Community health centers
  • Public health centers
  • Oncology outpatient centers
  • Outpatient clinics
  • Home healthcare companies
  • Government agencies

What are the Continuing Education Requirements for Nurse Case Managers?

As a career, RN case managers do not inherently have more CEU requirements than other RNs. Registered nursing licensure requirements vary by state, but often include a minimum number of education and clinical hours, along with a nominal fee.

However, if you pursue additional certifications to enter this career field, you may have to complete more CEUs per credential. Since each credential has individual requirements, there isn't a career-wide CEU standard. Instead, you can learn more about maintaining and renewing your nurse case manager certifications by contacting the accrediting organization or visiting its website.

What is the Career Outlook for Nurse Case Managers?

Based on current trends in healthcare and nursing, RN case management seems to be a steadily growing career field. 

The need for nurses continues to rise. In addition to the ongoing nursing shortage, the BLS predicts a growing need for this indispensable career field. By 2032, the organization predicts that the field will rise to 3,349,900 working nurses, a total growth of 6%.

However, healthcare trends may indicate a greater need for nurse case managers. The US has a growing aging population, which is the exact group RN case managers work with. As the pool of elderly patients with chronic health conditions expands, so will the need for nurse case managers.

Popular Online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Programs

Sponsored
Grand Canyon University

GCU's College of Nursing and Health Care Professions has a nearly 35-year tradition of preparing students to fill evolving healthcare roles as highly qualified professionals. GCU offers a full spectrum of nursing degrees, from a pre-licensure BSN degree to a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Purdue Global

At Purdue Global, discover a faster, more affordable way to earn your Nursing degree. Purdue Global is committed to keeping your tuition costs as low as possible and helping you find the most efficient path to your degree.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, but certain programs have state restrictions. Check with Purdue for details.

Western Governors University

WGU's award-winning online programs are created to help you succeed while graduating faster and with less debt. WGU is a CCNE accredited, nonprofit university offering nursing bachelor's and master's degrees.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Georgetown University
Nursing@Georgetown delivers Georgetown University’s MS in Nursing program online, preparing RNs with a BSN to pursue certification in an APRN specialty. Students can earn their degree in as few as 19 months.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, excluding NY and WA.

Where Can I Learn More About RN Case Managers?

Nurse Case Manager FAQs

  • What is an RN Case Manager?

    • A case manager is a specialized RN who works with patients, usually with chronic health conditions, to coordinate their care during hospitalizations, outpatient appointments, and home care. 
  • What is the Average Salary of a Case Manager?

    • The average annual nurse case manager salary is $98,869 or $48 per hour, according to ZipRecruiter.
  • What are the Five Components of Case Management?

    • Care delivery and reimbursement methods, psychosocial concepts and support systems, quality and outcomes evaluation and measurements, rehabilitation concepts and strategies, and ethical, legal, and practice standards
  • What Qualities Should a Case Manager Possess?

    • Strong time management skills, organization, effective communication skills, decision-making and problem-solving abilities, autonomy, teamwork, a creative personality, strong clinical skills and confidence

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Kathleen Gaines
MSN, RN, BA, CBC
Kathleen Gaines
News and Education Editor

Kathleen Gaines (nee Colduvell) is a nationally published writer turned Pediatric ICU nurse from Philadelphia with over 13 years of ICU experience. She has an extensive ICU background having formerly worked in the CICU and NICU at several major hospitals in the Philadelphia region. After earning her MSN in Education from Loyola University of New Orleans, she currently also teaches for several prominent Universities making sure the next generation is ready for the bedside. As a certified breastfeeding counselor and trauma certified nurse, she is always ready for the next nursing challenge.

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