How to Become a Certified Case Manager

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Earning a case manager certification can help to advance your career. Certified case managers tend to have more job options and make more competitive applicants.

[Featured image] Nurse at a computer

Becoming a certified case manager is a great way to advance your career if you work as a nurse, a social worker, or in another relevant position. You'll also have a more significant role in helping others by becoming an advocate for their needs, whether that's health care, housing, rehabilitation, counseling, a job, or anything else that might help them improve their lives and become more independent.  

Most case managers need a bachelor's or master's degree and work experience before becoming certified. Your employer may require case manager certification, but even if they don't, it will look good on your resume, help make you a more competitive job candidate, and help you prove you have the skills to tackle this rewarding and exciting career.

Read more: Your Guide to Social Work Degrees

What does a case manager do?

Case managers work in social and medical services to help people get what they need to help improve their lives. This usually starts with meeting with a patient and sometimes their families or loved ones and determining what they need, whether it's medical care, a place to live, home health care, rehabilitation, or more. 

As a case manager, once you determine a patient's needs, you'll work with them or their loved ones to devise a plan to achieve that goal within the parameters set by a third party, like a hospital, health insurance company, or rehabilitation center. At times, this might mean advocating for your patient and connecting with them and where they need particular services. As they progress, you'll continue to oversee their care and services and, hopefully, see them to their ultimate goals. Those goals will look different for everyone, but they usually involve ensuring they are physically and mentally fit enough to take control of their lives.  

Many case managers work with patients who have severe medical needs. You may find yourself working with patients who need a hospital, long-term nursing care, home health, help with substance abuse, rehabilitation after long-term medical care, or help with mental illness. You might work with developmentally disabled adults looking for a job or various types of therapy, or you might work with children who need support after a traumatic experience. You may find yourself working for a health insurance company, a correctional facility, a school, a law firm, or a nursing home.  

To become a case manager, you'll typically need a bachelor's degree, usually in nursing or social work, though a similar field may also be acceptable. Even if you earn a degree in a non-related field, you can always go back and take some social work courses or even earn your master's degree in social work. Some jobs may require you to have an advanced degree. 

Once you finish your education, you'll need to gain some relevant experience. Many students choose to do this through an internship. You can also do this by applying for entry-level jobs in social services. Most case managers work as social workers or registered nurses before advancing their careers to become case managers. One of the best ways to advance your career is to obtain a case manager certification. You usually need a certification to become a case manager, depending on where you want to work and the state where you live. 

How do you go about getting certified?

If you currently work as a social worker or registered nurse and want to become a case manager, you'll need a case manager certification in most states. You can choose from a few different certification options, each with unique requirements. In most cases, you'll need to prove you have the relevant education and experience to meet eligibility criteria and then complete an exam. Once you become a certified case manager, you can maintain your credentials through continued education and certification renewal. Your state may also require some sort of licensure.

Which certification should you choose?

No one direct path leads to becoming a certified case manager. Several options are available to you, but whether or not you qualify for them depends on your background. For example,  ANCC Nursing Case Management certification is only for people who have worked as registered nurses. Let's look at three of the most common case manager certifications.


The Commission for Case Manager Certification (CCMC) offers what many call the industry standard certification for caseworkers. The Case Manager Certification (CCM) is the longest-standing certification recognized by most organizations. According to the CCMC, 58 percent of employers will pay for their employees to become certified, and nearly half require their employees to have the certification. Eighty-eight percent of case managers with the certification say it has helped them improve their careers [1]. 

There are a few options to consider when evaluating the requirements for the CCM certification. You must be licensed as a registered nurse, pharmacist, or clinical social worker. Alternatively, you'll need a bachelor's or master's degree in a health and human services field, such as social work or nursing. You'll also qualify if you have relevant certification, such as Certified Rehabilitation Counselor or Disability Management Specialist. In addition to your educational background, you'll need to prove that you have 12 months of full-time case management experience supervised by someone who is a CCM or 24 months of full-time case management experience not supervised by someone who is a CCM. Having 12 months of supervisory experience managing other case managers is also acceptable. 

If you're self-employed, you'll have to provide at least three references of organizations having used your services. And finally, you'll need to answer a list of questions to prove you are of good moral character. The questions involve topics like breaking the law and suspension from past jobs.  


Another option is the Accredited Case Manager (ACM) certification offered by the American Case Management Association (ACMA). This certification is typically for case managers in hospitals and other health care settings, and it's only open to people who already work as social workers or registered nurses. If you're a registered nurse, you must prove that your license is in good standing. If you're a social worker, you must prove you have a relevant bachelor's or master's degree from an accredited school or a license in good standing. 

In addition to your education, you'll need some work experience. At a minimum, you'll need one year or 2,080 hours of work experience as a case manager in a health care delivery system. The work must be paid, supervised, and fall under the organization's "Case Management Functions and Expectations." You must provide your supervisor's contact information if you have less than two years of experience.  


The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) certification is only open to people who are already registered nurses.  The certificate is geared towards nurses who want to advance their careers and become nursing case managers, and it has both employment and licensing requirements:

  • You must have a current registered nurse's license in good standing in your state or territory.

  • You must have worked as a registered nurse for at least two years. 

  • You must have at least 2,000 hours of clinical work in the nursing case management field within the last three years, and you must have completed 30 hours of education in nursing case management within the previous three years. 

What jobs can you have with a case management certification?

The jobs you can get with a case management certification vary from state to state and organization to organization. Your background, education, work experience, and what you want to do in the future will also impact where you can go with specific case manager certifications. In many cases, certificates help nurses and social workers become case managers or they might help someone who already works in case management become a supervisor or leader within their field or organization.

Some common types of case managers include:  

• Hospital case managers

• Nursing case managers

• Clinical case managers

• Medical case managers

• Home health case managers

• Prison case managers

• Correctional case managers

• Juvenile case managers

• Legal case managers

• Child case managers

• Geriatric case managers

• Emergency shelter case managers

• Homeless shelter case managers 

• Housing case managers 

• Mental health case managers

• Developmental disability case managers

• Health insurance case managers


Next steps

One of the best ways to prepare for a career as a case manager is to take a course or earn a degree in social work. On Coursera, you'll find offerings from some of the top institutions in the world, like the Social Work Practice: Advocating Social Justice and Change course available via the University of Michigan. 

Article sources

  1. Commission for Case Manager Certification."Get Certified," Accessed April 26, 2023. 

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