Which Case Management Certification Should I Choose?

A popular question in our Case Managers Community Facebook Group is “Which Case Management Certification should I choose?” While we can’t answer that question for you we can give you the information you need to decide for yourself. Things to consider are where you are now and where you see yourself in the future. You will also want to take into consideration your professional background and where you work. This article gives a brief comparison of 3 of the more popular certification available for case managers to help you decide which one is best for you.

CCM (Certified Case Manager)

Considered the gold standard of case management certification this certification will help you stand out as an experienced expert in your field. With over 45,000 CCM’s this is by far the most popular and prestigious case manager certification. The exam and credentials are offered by the Commission for Case Manager Certification (CCMC), the first organization to certify case managers. 

This certification is the only cross-setting, cross-discipline case manager credential for healthcare and related fields that is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). It is inclusive of all case managers no matter the work setting or credentials as long as they have a license that allows them to conduct an independent assessment of the client. This makes it very popular with case managers today who are interested in career advancement and know the importance of making themselves more marketable.

Exam Eligibility

To be eligible to sit for this examination Candidates must meet the qualifications in three areas; licensure or education, employment, and character.

Qualifications include:

Licensure or Education Requirements

Applicants must have:

(1) a current, active and unrestricted licensure or certification in a health or human services discipline such as RN, LCSW, CRC, Rx, PT, OT, ST, RT, and CDMS.

OR 

(2) a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in nursing, social work or other health and human services discipline and have completed supervised field experience in case management, health, or behavioral health.

Employment Requirements

Applicants must meet one of the employment requirements below:

  • 24 months of full-time case management
  • 12 months of full-time case management, supervised by a CCM
  • 12 months of full-time case management employment experience as a supervisor of individuals who provides case management services

Character Requirement

Be of good moral character, consistent with the CCMC Code of Professional Conduct.

About the Exam

Candidates have 3 hours to complete the 180 questions multiple-choice exam. Of the 180 questions, only 150 are actual scored questions, the other 30 are pretest questions which are not scored. According to CCMC, “The CCM exam is practice-based, meaning all questions are based on the knowledge that an experienced case manager should know and understand.” 

The examination content focuses on the following five domains:

  • Care Delivery & Reimbursement Methods
  • Psychosocial Concepts & Support Systems
  • Quality & Outcomes Evaluation and Measurement
  • Rehabilitations Concepts & Strategies
  • Ethical, Legal & Practice Standards

Those who pass this exam are entitled to use the credential CCM (Certified Case Manager). 

Exam Schedule

The exam is administered 3 times each year, during the months of April, August, and December. The test can be scheduled any day during the testing month at a Prometric Testing Center. Applications to test must be submitted during the application window for that test month. See the table below for more information

 

Exam Period April August December
Application window open November 1 March 1 July 1
Application window close January 31 May 31 September 30
Approve/Denial Notified By February 28 By June 30 By October 31
Exam Administered April 1-30 August 1-31 December 1-31

 

The total cost of the exam is $385. This includes an application fee of $200 which is non-refundable and an exam fee of $185 which is refundable if the applicant is ineligible to sit for the exam. 

In Summary

Who: Medical Professionals who are permitted to conduct an independent client assessment

Work Setting: Any

Credential: CCM

Fee: $385

Work Experience: 1-year minimum

Renewal: 5 years

Popularity: 45,000+

For more information contact CCMC directly at CCMCertification.org

ACM (Accredited Case Manager) 

The America Case Manager Association (ACMA) created and administers the Accredited Case Manager (ACM) exam and credentials. This certification is only available to RN’s and Social Workers. The ACM is designed for health delivery system and transitions of care (ToC) case managers working in the hospital setting. 

Exam Eligibility

Licensure or Education Requirements

The ACM Certification examination is open to:

(1) Registered nurses with a current valid nursing license, and/or

(2) Social workers with a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in social work or a valid social work license. 

Work Experience Requirements

All applicants must have 1 year (2,080 hours) of full time, supervised paid work experience in a healthcare delivery system as a case manager or a role that falls within the scope of Services and Standards of Practice of a case manager. Having less than two years of experience adds the additional requirement of providing supervisor contact information and an attestation that they have at least one year of case management experience. Internship, whether paid or unpaid, does not count toward full-time work experience. 

About the Exam 

There are two components to this exam. The first part consists of questions that test core case management knowledge, skills, and abilities. The second part of the exam involves discipline-specific clinical simulations. Candidates must pass both the core and discipline-specific portions to be entitled to use the ACM credential. 

The examination content focuses on hospital case management and transitions of care (ToC) in the following four domains: 

  • screening and assessment, 
  • planning, 
  • care coordination, intervention, and transition management,
  • evaluation. 

Exam Schedule

Candidates apply and test within the regularly scheduled deadlines and timeframes listed below.

 

Application Deadline Exam Period
November 15 January, February, March
February 15 April, May, June
May 15 July, August, September
August 15 October, November, December

 

The exam application fee is $325. Candidates deemed ineligible to sit for the exam will receive a refund, less a $75 processing fee.

In Summary

Who: RN’s and SW

Work Setting: Hospital

Credential: ACM (Accredited Case Manager) ACM-RN or ACM-SW

Fee: $325

Work Experience: Minimum of 1 year

Renewal: 4 Years

Popularity: 6,400+

For more information contact CCMC directly at acmaweb.org

ANCC

Administered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), this exam is developed for nurses, by nurses, and focuses specifically on nursing case management. 

Exam Eligibility

To qualify to sit for this exam applicants must meet the qualifications in two areas, licensure and employment. 

Eligibility criteria include:

Licensure Requirements

To be eligible to sit for the exam applicants must hold a current, active RN license within a state or territory of the United States or the professional legally recognized equivalent in another country. International applicants also have additional requirements which are outlined on ANC’s website. 

Work Experience Requirements

Applicants must have:

  • Worked as a registered nurse the equivalent of 2 years full-time. 
  • A minimum of 2,000 hours of clinical practice in nursing case management within the last 3 years. 
  • Completed 30 hours of continuing education in nursing case management within the last 3 years.

The application fee is $270 for the American Nurses Association (ANA) members and $395 for non-members. If you paid $395 to apply for an exam and then chose to withdraw or were deemed ineligible for the exam, ANCC would retain $140 and provide a $255 refund.

About the Exam

(*Note this information applies to the new updated test which begins December 16, 2019)

The exam contains 150 questions and must be completed in 3 hours or less. Only 125 of the questions are actual test questions, the remaining 25 are not scored as they are pretest questions. 

The ANCC is a competency-based exam that assesses the entry-level clinical knowledge and skills of registered nurses working in case management. The examination content focuses on four domains; professional foundation, care coordination, quality management, and health promotion. After successfully passing the exam the RN-BC (Registered Nurse-Board Certified) credential is awarded.

Exam Schedule

Once the application is submitted an eligibility decision will be made within  4 – 6 weeks. If the applicant is deemed eligible an authorization to test number will be given. The applicant then has a 90-day window in which to schedule and take the exam at a Prometric Test Center.

In Summary

Who: RN

Work Setting: All

Credential: RN-BC

Fee:  $395, American Nurses Association (ANA) Member $270

Work Experience: 

  • 2 years full-time as a registered nurse, and
  • 2,000+ hours of clinical practice in nursing case management within the last 3 years, and
  • 30 hours of continuing education in nursing case management within the last 3 years.

Renewal: 5 Years

Popularity: 2,000+/-

Learn More: NursingWorld.org

Get Certified

Whichever certification you choose I encourage you to get certified. Obtaining your certification is a great career step. It shows that you are a lifelong learner who is serious about your profession, something employers and potential employers look for when promoting and hiring making it well worth the investment. And what better investment of your time and money are there than investing in yourself!

deanna cooper gillinghamDeanna Cooper Gillingham, RN, CCM is a leader in case management with over a quarter-century experience in healthcare as a Registered Nurse and Case Manager. She is CEO and co-founder of the Case Management Institute, and leader and co-founder of the Case Managers Community, a group of over 10,000 committed case managers. From there she hosts the popular Case Managers Community Saturday morning FB Lives.

In addition to her own books, CCM Certification Made Easy: Your Guide to Passing the Certified Case Managers Exam and Foundations of Case Management (Available 2020), she has contributed to other works including Second Acts, Stepping Up to Certification, and Case Management Salary and Trends Survey.

Deanna educates and inspires through both live and online presentations. Her live speaking has included hosting the Case Managers Cruise for 3 years and co-presenting NNBA Pre-Conference Case Management and Patient Advocacy: Career Paths for Nurses Who Want to Move Beyond the Bedside. Her online presentations include Successful Study Strategies for the CCM Exam, Test Taking Strategies for the CCM Exam, and Everything You Need to Know About Case Management As a Career Option for Nurses.