An RN case manager is a registered nurse who works in a more administrative role, serving as a care coordinator and organizing patient care. The job of a case management nurse is to coordinate with a variety of medical professionals so that each patient gets the care that they need. Patients with complex medical conditions may require a multidisciplinary care team, and a case management nurse builds that team and helps patients access the care and support they need.
To become a case manager, a nurse must first earn their license and become a registered nurse (RN). The average salary for a registered nurse case manager in the United States is $69,557, and nurses have the option to earn extra through overtime. Case management nurses also have access to a variety of benefits including health savings accounts, mileage reimbursement and 401(K) matching.
The average salary of an RN case manager is significantly above the national median income across all professions, but nurses in this role are not among the highest-paid in the nursing profession. Advanced practice nurses, especially those who become nurse practitioners or certified registered nurse anesthetists have the chance to enjoy a much higher salary range. However, RN case managers do have the opportunity for extensive career progression, making it an appealing option for mid-career nurses.
Average salaries for RN case managers can vary significantly depending on the area in which the nurse lives and works, as well as what kind of institution they work for. There are many reasons for this variation. Some states have a much higher cost of living than other states, and as such, nurses who live there can command higher salaries to allow them to have a similar standard of living to those in less costly states.
In addition, there are skills shortages in some parts of the country, and other states where demand is high due to the demographics that live there or the population density. Supply and demand can make a significant difference to average salaries, making relocating a potentially lucrative option for experienced nurses who are looking to work in case management.
Case management nurses can work in a variety of different settings. They are most commonly found in hospitals, but they may also be employed by home health agencies, private medical facilities, outpatient care centers, managed care facilities, or government-sponsored programs. Earnings can vary significantly depending on the facility for which the nurse works.
Nurses who work for private facilities can usually command salaries at the higher end of the average for their state, while nonprofit programs and smaller care facilities offer lower earnings. The way the work is delivered can also impact nursing salaries. For example, some nurse case managers are able to work flexibly and remotely by providing telephone or web-based consultations. Nurses who have the perk of flexible hours usually receive a lower base salary, but may find their earnings in real terms are higher due to the reduced need to commute and pay for other work-related costs such as meals at the canteen.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the average salary of a registered nurse (working in any department), as $75,330 per year. This is slightly higher than the reported salary of $69,557 given by Indeed for nurses who work as RN case managers, however, the Bureau of Labor Statistics includes travel nurses, critical care nurses, and other bachelor’s degree-educated nursing professionals in the category of Registered Nurse.
Case management nurses who work in Wyoming can earn 25% more than the national average, and those who work in California have potential earnings of 17% more than the national average. In contrast, those who live and work in West Virginia and Maine see lower earnings than average.
These statistics look at just the base earnings and don’t take into account differences in the cost of living in those states. It’s important to consider the differences in cost of living. Nursing salaries in California, for example, are higher than average, but the cost of living in the state is also high.
When the cost of living is taken into account, the best paying states for registered nurse case managers are:
In terms of career prospects, a case manager has many good opportunities for progression, wherever they work. Some case management nurses opt to move into home health, others transition into travel nursing or decide they’d like to get back onto the hospital floor in a more patient-facing role. Registered nurses have the opportunity to specialize in many different areas, and it’s common for nurses to make several changes throughout their careers.
Even those who choose to stay in case management have the chance to become senior nurses within that role, and to increase their earnings. Some of the top cities for nurses who want to advance in the profession as case managers are:
The average base salary for an RN case manager is $69,557 according to Indeed (with the potential for $11,925 per year in overtime), although other sources calculate the average differently, for example, the Economic Research Institute lists the average salary of a case management nurse as $79,390. As you would expect, senior RN case managers can command higher salaries than ones in a junior position.
An entry-level RN case manager who has only a couple of year’s experience as a registered nurse can expect a base salary of around $59,000. Those who have a lot of experience and are fortunate enough to work in a state where nurses command high salaries can earn as much as $92,000.
Salaries for nurse case managers tend to increase steadily over time, depending on experience. A nurse case manager would be expected to have a valid nursing license and at least a couple of years of clinical experience. It’s possible to become a registered nurse with just an associate’s degree, but in New York nurses are expected to earn their bachelor’s degree within at least ten years of licensure. Other states are expected to follow suit with this legislation. Even in states where nurses do commonly work with just an associate’s degree, some employers have a strong preference for BSN-prepared nurses due to the extra knowledge they have and the higher standard of care they’re capable of providing.
Before becoming an RN case manager, a nurse would be expected to earn some clinical experience. That could be on a ward, in a clinic, or in another setting. Usually, they’d then go on to pursue case management-related work in that setting. An early career registered nurse case manager will likely earn slightly more than a freshly graduated nurse who has just passed the NCLEX-RN, then for every few years of ongoing employment, they can expect to see a small increase in their salary.
RN case managers may be expected to pursue certifications relating to their work. For example, an RN case manager who wants to do work that leans toward social care may need to earn a certification or a license to perform social work. Not all states require this, but some states do not permit individuals to engage in social work without passing a licensing process.
The ANCC offers certifications for RN case managers. The Nursing Case Management Certification (CMGT-BC) is aimed at licensed registered nurses who are at the start of their career and who want to specialize in case management. The qualification leads to the Case Management Nurse – Board Certified credential, which is valid for five years.
It’s common for a registered nurse to earn many other certifications throughout the course of their career, such as cardiac life support certifications, pediatric care specialization certifications, or others that focus on a specific area of interest. Any additional certifications will make a nurse more valuable in the eyes of their employer.
Nurses who are looking to climb the career ladder beyond simply becoming more senior registered nurse case managers should consider postgraduate education. Advanced practice roles such as nurse anesthetist require additional education beyond the BSN. A nurse who has aspirations to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist or a nurse practitioner should pursue a master’s degree in nursing with a focus on their desired specialization, earn some additional clinical experience, then move on to pursue a doctoral-level qualification.
The Doctor of Nursing Practice qualification is commonly expected for nurses who wish to earn the title of nurse practitioner and all of the privileges that come with it. The average salary enjoyed by nurses who are educated to that level is $117,670, which is far higher than the average earnings of even an experienced case management nurse. The earnings, however, reflect the additional years of education and clinical experience that APRNs have.
As with most professions, the salary of a registered nurse who works in case management is strongly tied to the level of experience the nurse has. Nurses at the start of their career typically earn around 10% less than the median salary, while those who have a decade or more of experience enjoy above-average earnings. Those who have 20 years of experience or more can expect to have a salary of around 7% more than the median for their state.
The earning potential of a registered nurse is heavily impacted by their level of education. It is possible to become a registered nurse with a two-year associate’s degree that leads to the NCLEX-RN. However, a nurse with an ADN can expect to work in an entry-level position for a salary of around $40,250, while nurses who are BSN-prepared can expect much higher salaries.
Earning a master’s degree also increases the average earning potential of a registered nurse, although most nurses who hold a master’s degree are looking to progress into roles other than case management. For example, a nurse with an MSN could work in anesthesia, pediatrics, oncology, informatics, or administration. Case managers with an MSN are valuable as leaders in a hospital and do have the chance to earn a higher salary than other case management nurses, but this specialization is not the most lucrative out of those available to nurses.
Experience is invaluable in the world of nursing. A nurse who has a lot of clinical experience is likely to be valued by employers, even if they’re moving away from patient-facing roles on a ward and are focusing on case management. Of course, because the field of nursing is so broad, it matters what area that experience is in. For example, a nurse who has spent a lot of time working at a Kaiser Permanente hospital would have valuable experience allowing them to work as a case manager for a hospital or a large clinic.
Nurses who spent their early career working at care homes might find the skills they possess are viewed as slightly less transferrable to busy hospitals, meaning they’ll find themselves in more junior positions than their experience suggests when they come to move from RN work to case management. Nurses who have a very broad range of experience, having worked in trauma, pediatrics, ICU, and other areas, can leverage that experience to command an above-average salary should they wish to move into social care or case management later on in their careers.
It’s often beneficial for an RN case management specialist to have experience in other areas such as informatics. Nurses are expected to use a lot of technology in their day-to-day lives and knowing how those systems work is useful, as is being able to communicate effectively with both medical experts and tech experts.
There are opportunities for RN case managers to work in roles attached to government projects, which means they have the chance to take on a role that’s got public health elements in it. Being conversant in public health, policy and administration-related language, processes and tasks can greatly increase a nurse’s earning potential.
An entry-level RN case manager can expect a salary of around $66,000 per year. This increases to $69,000 per year when a nurse has around four years of experience. By the time a case management nurse has 5-9 years of experience, they’re considered mid-career and can expect earnings of around $73,000 per year, although salaries do vary depending on the employer and also the state the nurse is working in.
Experienced nurse case managers, who have been in the profession for ten years or more can expect average salaries of $76,000. By the time a nurse has 20 years of experience, they could potentially have a salary of $79,000. Many nurses transition to other specializations after the first few years, however, which gives them the chance to earn more or to enjoy other benefits, depending on which specialization they move into.
Common career paths for registered nurse case managers include moving into RN supervisor roles, working as a staff nurse, or studying to become a nurse practitioner or an advanced practice registered nurse.
RN case managers can enjoy a variety of benefits, bonuses and perks for the work that they do. These benefits will vary depending on where the nurse works, their level of seniority, and also what they negotiate with their employer. Nurses are in high demand in many states and this means employers are eager to keep nurses happy and work with them to ensure they stay in their roles for as long as possible.
RN case managers can often expect to receive a cash sign-on bonus when they start with a new employer. Sign-on bonuses can vary between $2,000 and $5,000 depending on the size of the employer and the seniority of the position that is being advertised. In addition to the sign-on bonus, nurses usually have the opportunity to take advantage of a variety of perks and benefits that can add a significant amount of value to their salaries.
Registered nurse case managers can take advantage of a variety of benefits, including:
In addition to the benefits listed above, it’s common for RN case managers to be offered support in terms of continuing education, meaning they can take certifications that could help them advance their careers. This is particularly common in hospitals since these often have nurse educators dedicated to supporting nurses who want to specialize in new areas.
Many health care facilities offer loan assistance and tuition reimbursement, which means recently qualified nurses who are looking to pay off their student loans after earning a BSN will be able to do so. In the long-term, many hospitals offer support for nurses who want to go on to study an MSN or a DNP, opening up the door for advanced nursing practice.
RN case managers who work at nonprofit hospitals may be able to take advantage of loan forgiveness schemes if they spend enough time working at that one hospital. For-profit hospitals are not eligible to take part in federal loan forgiveness schemes.
Even nurses who can’t access loan forgiveness or tuition reimbursement may find working as a case manager a good option compared to some other jobs in the world of nursing. These nurses tend to spend less time on the ward, so they’re not as likely to suffer injuries from moving patients or heavy equipment, for example. The job can have better, more flexible hours than certain other departments, and is one of the few areas where telemedicine is an option.
Because case management nurses can work remotely, they spend less time traveling and spend less money on taking care of their vehicles, cleaning uniforms, and worrying about other expenses associated with working away from home. This may seem like a small thing, but the cost savings can mount up quite quickly.
For many nurses, the flexible hours and paid time off are important because they allow the nurse to spend more time with their family, and reduce the risk of burnout that is so commonly seen in nurses who work in the emergency departments, intensive care wards, and other fast-paced, and comparatively high-stress environments.
As an incoming case manager, you have many opportunities to negotiate your pay and benefits. When you’re looking for a job, the first thing you should do is look at the average salaries of nurses in similar roles on major job seeking sites, as well as on platforms such as Glassdoor. These services make it easy for you to compare the relative earnings of nurses who are already in employment as case managers in your state.
It’s important to take the size of the employer, and their financial situation, into account. A major private hospital may find it easier to offer higher salaries than a nonprofit, for example. Salaries in a care home or long-term care facility may be different to those at a busy hospital, too, but this is often made up for by other benefits such as being able to do a lot of work remotely or to enjoy more flexible working hours.
Your salary will likely be based partly on your job title, and also on your level of experience. This gives you the chance to negotiate based on things like other certifications, years of experience, whether you hold an MSN or a BSN, and whether you’re able to fill in other roles if required.
Most hospitals and other health care providers are looking for someone who wants to stay in a job for a long time. It takes time to train new nurses on the procedures and systems used at a specific hospital. Nursing, as a profession, does include a lot of best practices, but small differences in how things are done or in the computer systems used between different networks can make a big difference in terms of productivity.
As an applicant for a job, or someone who is undergoing a performance and salary review, you can use experience in these areas to negotiate benefits. Remember that your take-home salary is not the only thing you should be focusing on. Health, vision, and dental insurance are all important, and having generous policies can be a significant perk of working in health care. If the policy can include family members, then it becomes even more valuable.
Receiving support with continuing education is also worth considering. If you can find an employer that is willing to fund your master’s degree or doctoral program in exchange for ongoing service, this could be worth tens of thousands of dollars in the medium term, and pay off even more than that when you are ready to move up or across into a different specialization.
Think of this negotiation as investing in your future. Unless you’re sure that you want to stay in case management and social work forever, it’s worth exploring other areas as a part of your postgraduate education. A master’s degree in nursing administration or informatics could serve you well even if you do choose to keep the case manager job title long term.
Case management nurses are expected to renew their certifications every five years and engage in continuing education, including studying case management, nursing ethics, and best practices, as a part of their job. They’ll have to report on this continuing education to retain their license, and some states may ask them to re-take certain tests. If you have a lot of certifications and licenses and a good record with keeping your continuing education up-to-date, this should go a long way towards showing employers that you’re a good long-term hire.