RN Case Manager 2021 Salary Guide
| NurseJournal Staff
A registered nurse (RN) who pursues a career as an RN case manager works with patients and their families, physicians, other healthcare practitioners, and insurance companies to coordinate available resources and deliver quality, affordable healthcare.
RNs interested in entering this in-demand field can explore this guide for current information about salary prospects and comparisons with other nursing fields.
Fast Facts About RN Case Managers
- Median annual salaries for a board-certified RN case manager increased from 2017-2019, ranging from $80,000-$85,000.
- Over 50% of executive-level certified case managers earn more than $100,000 annually, along with more than one-third in management.
- In addition to certification, 98% of RN case managers have specialty experience in hospital case management, managed care, and care transitions.
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Average Salary for Registered Nurse Case Managers
A nurse case manager must hold an RN license. While RNs may enter this field after earning a two-year associate degree in nursing (ADN), most employers seek case managers who hold a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). As in other nursing specialties, salaries increase with education level.
BSN degree-holders earn an average $4,000 higher than RNs with ADNs. Factors such as certification, years of experience, and location also affect compensation levels.
COVID-19 Effects on RN Case Manager Salary and Employment
RN case managers have played an essential role in coordinating care, screening COVID-19 patients, and assessing treatment for COVID-19. The demand for these nurses will continue to expand as the nation recovers from the pandemic.
While hospitals and other healthcare providers gradually resume elective surgeries and other services postponed because of the pandemic, they must continue to provide care to patients dealing with the short-term and long-term effects of COVID-19. These factors have increased patient volume.
Optimizing case management helps healthcare systems to improve capacity and manage increased patient flows. RN case managers serve as the primary point of contact for patients and their families, organizing services, locating resources, and advocating on their behalf. These nurses will become even more important as the pandemic wanes.
What Kind of Salary Growth Can RN Case Managers Expect?
Several factors determine RN case manager salaries. Earnings vary by geography, education, and employer. As nurses gain work experience, they increase their salaries by moving into supervisory positions and taking on more responsibilities.
The highest-paid RN case managers typically hold BSN degrees or higher and have worked in the field for a decade or more.
Average Annual Salary of RN Case Managers by Experience
Highest-Paying and Lowest-Paying States for RN Case Managers in 2020
RNs in all specialties receive considerably higher salaries than the mean wage for all occupations in the United States. Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide salary data specific to RN case managers, the compensation levels for these specialized RNs correspond to those reported for all RNs.
Some regions pay significantly more than others. California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Alaska rank as the top-paying states for RNs, while Southern and Midwestern states pay significantly less.
Factors such as nursing demand and cost of living affect RN case manager salaries too. California and Hawaii, where the cost of living is much higher than other states, pay the highest salaries in the country, in contrast to the lowest-paying states where living expenses are more affordable.
How Do RN Case Manager Salaries Compare to Other Nurses?
A nurse case manager earns a relatively higher salary than some of the following common RN specialties. According to PayScale, an RN case manager earned an average annual salary of $73,520 as of May 2021.
4 Ways to Increase Pay as an RN Case Manager
RN case manager salary ranges vary with employer, geographic location, and education level. As of May 2021, PayScale reports that RN case managers with under five years of work experience can expect to earn an average base salary of $66,310. The top earners, those with 20 years or more on the job, earn a mean salary of over $78,000. An advanced degree, certifications, and years of work experience can boost case manager salary levels significantly.
- 1. Consider pursuing certification(s).
- RNs can pursue certifications to demonstrate their competency in specialized fields, enhancing their career and salary prospects. Median salaries for board-certified case managers have grown since 2017, ranging from $80,000-$85,000 annually, with many in management positions earning six figures. Over 98% of certified case managers have more than one certification.
- 2. Increase education level.
- Earning a BSN or graduate degree positively affects RN salaries. While RN case managers can enter the field after earning ADNs, those with bachelor's or graduate degrees generally earn more. RNs can pursue BSN and master of science in nursing (MSN) degrees through RN-to-BSN or RN-to-MSN bridge programs. Bridge programs enable nurses to keep working while earning their degrees.
- 3. Gain experience in management roles.
- Nursing shortages and the projected retirement of senior-level nurses have resulted in a growing demand for nurse administrators, including case managers. Board-certified case managers in staff and managerial roles can expect salaries to rise. More than half of certified case managers in executive positions and a third in management roles earn over $100,000 a year.
- 4. Switch practice settings.
- Location affects earning potential. Some practice settings may offer much higher pay and better career prospects. According to a recent nurse compensation report, RNs receive the highest compensation in the insurance and health plan industry, hospitals, outpatient clinics, and skilled and long-term nursing facilities.
Frequently Asked Questions: RN Case Manager Salaries
How much do case manager RNs make?
Among other factors, actual earnings depend on location, education and certification, and experience. According to PayScale data as of May 2021, RN case managers earn an average yearly salary of $73,520. Entry-level case managers with less than a year of experience can earn a starting salary of $66,310. The highest-paid case managers, those with 20 years or more on the job, earn $78,630.
Do case managers make more than nurses?
Case managers and other licensed RNs typically earn comparable wages. RN case managers can increase their salaries by earning certifications and advanced graduate training. Also, hospitals and healthcare facilities are seeking more efficient ways to manage patient capacity and deliver affordable, quality care. Thus, the demand for nurse case managers will continue to grow and result in higher salaries.
What does an RN case manager do?
An RN case manager develops, implements, and reviews healthcare plans. Along with advocating for patients and their families, they focus on providing efficient and effective healthcare while managing treatment costs. Caseworkers help patients and their families understand their healthcare options by coordinating services with doctors, other healthcare practitioners and staff, and insurance providers.
Do case managers make good money?
Salaries for case managers who have board certification have risen since 2017, surpassing the median wages of RNs and social workers. Like other RNs, compensation for case managers also varies by practice setting. Insurance companies, hospitals and clinics, and skilled nursing facilities generally pay higher salaries than educational institutions and public and community health services.
Learn More About RN Case Managers
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