Which Case Management Certification Should I Get? (UPDATED AUGUST 2019)

Which CM Certification Should I GetWe have been getting a lot of inquiries recently regarding the different types of Case Management Certifications available. Many of you want to know which is best for you. This is a very individual choice based on where you work, your professional background, and where you see yourself working in the future. This article gives a comparison of 3 of the more popular certification available for case managers to help you decide which one may be best for you.

CCM (Certified Case Manager)

This certification exam is administered by the Commission for Case Manager Certification and is considered the gold standard of case management certifications. It is also the most popular with over 45,000 board-certified case managers to date. This certification is inclusive of all case managers no matter their 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.


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


(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:

  • 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
  • 24 months of full-time case management

Character Requirement

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

Exam Structure

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

You will have 3 hours to complete the exam which consists of 180 multiple-choice questions. Only 150 of these are actual scored questions, the other 30 are pretest questions which are not scored. 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, 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.


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 application fee is $200 (non-refundable) plus the exam fee of $185 (refundable if ineligible to sit for the exam), for a total of $385. 

The Skinny

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

Work Setting: All

Credential: CCM

Fee: $385

Work Experience: Minimum of 1 year

Renewal: 5 years

Popularity: 45,000+

This is for you if: (1) You are a medical professional working as a case manager. (2) You are looking for career advancement. (3) You want the Gold Standard Certification. (4) You work or plan to work in a setting other than acute care. 

For further clarification on eligibility please contact: CCMCertification.org

ACM (Accredited Case Manager) 

This certification is created and administered by the America Case Manager Association (ACMA). It is only offered only to RN’s and Social Workers. The ACM is for health delivery system and transitions of care (ToC) case managers working in the hospital setting. 


The ACM Certification examination is open to all registered nurses with a valid and current nursing license and/or social workers with a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in social work or valid social work license. All applicants must have 1 year (2,080 hours) of full time, supervised paid work experience as a case manager or in a role that falls within the scope of Services and Standards of Practice of a case manager, by a health delivery system. Candidates with less than two years of experience must provide supervisor contact information and an attestation that they have at least one year of case management experience. It is important to note that paid or unpaid internship does not count toward full-time work experience. The exam application fee is $325. Candidates deemed ineligible to sit for the exam will receive a refund, less a $75 processing fee.

Exam Structure

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. 

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. 

Exam Schedule

Quarterly Exam Scheduling. 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 Skinny

Who: RN’s and SW only

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+

This is for you if: (1) You are an RN or SW case manager working in a hospital setting and plan to continue working there. (2) You are looking for career advancement where you currently work.

Learn More: acmaweb.org


This certification is administered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). It is developed for nurses, by nurses and is focused specifically on nursing case management. 


Applicants must meet the qualifications in two areas, licensure and employment. 

Qualifications include:

Licensure Requirements

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 to be eligible to sit for the exam. International applicants must comply with additional requirements. 

Employment Requirements

Applicants must have practiced the equivalent of 2 years full-time as a registered nurse and have a minimum of 2,000 hours of clinical practice in nursing case management within the last 3 years. In addition, applicants must have completed 30 hours of continuing education in nursing case management within the last 3 years.

The application fee is $395. If you are a member of the American Nurses Association (ANA), the application fee is $270. 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.

Exam Structure

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

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 the following four domains: 

  • Professional Foundation
  • Care Coordination
  • Quality Management
  • Health Promotion

You will have 3 hours to complete the exam which consists of 150 questions. Only 125 of these are actual scored questions, the other 25 are pretest questions that are not scored. After successfully passing the exam the RN-BC (Registered Nurse-Board Certified) is awarded. 

Exam Schedule

After you mail your application, allow 4 – 6 weeks for an eligibility decision. If eligible, you’ll get an authorization to test number and a 90-day window in which to schedule and take your exam at a Prometric Test Center.

The Skinny

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+/-

This is for you if: (1) you are an RN. (2) You work or plan to work in a setting other than acute care. (3) You are looking for career advancement.

Learn More: NursingWorld.org

My Opinion

I wanted to share how and why I chose the CCM Certification from different options.

At first, I was leaning toward the ANCC since I was a nurse and it was for nurses only. When it was time for me to apply, I asked the director of my department her opinion. Her answer was “the CCM is the gold standard”…

So, I began looking into CCM. I also looked at job postings for Case Manager positions I may want in the future and all the positions required CCM certification. Based on this, I made the choice to seek my CCM certification and have been extremely happy with my decision. My CCM certification has opened many doors for me.

While the CCM was the right choice for me, it will not be the right decision for everybody. You will need to take into consideration your current situation and where you see yourself in the future.

No matter which one you choose, good luck and know that you can do it! Being a Certified Case Manager is a great profession!

Deanna Headshot 2Deanna 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.


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Didn’t Pass the CCM Exam, Now What?

Didn't pass the CCM Exam, Now What?

First of all, I want to let you know I am very sorry you did not pass. I know that you invested a lot of time and money into passing this exam. I hope you plan to take the exam again. Many people do not pass their first attempt and go on to pass later. This article should help you to do that.

CCMC will waive the application fee for your first retest during the next testing cycle only. For example, if you fail the test in April you can take the August exam without reapplying and paying the application fee again. You will have to pay the test center (Prometric) fee though. If you do not test during the next exam cycle, but wish to retest later or this is not your first retest, CCMC will require the entire application fee and test fee again. Also, if you rescheduled your first test and failed, you will have to reapply and pay the application and test center fees again. Basically, the application only covers 2 testing cycles, if for any reason you do not pass the test by the 2 test cycles after your application is accepted you must reapply.

Where to Start

The first thing you need to do is understand that you will go through the grieving process. Yes, you heard me right. You need to grieve the fact that something you put so much time, effort, and hope into did not end as you wanted it to. Allow yourself to go through all five stages, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance where you will be able to put the past behind you and move forward with your new study plan.

As soon as you can, definitely within a day or two of taking the exam, brainstorm and write notes on every question you remember from the test, both those you knew the answer to and those you did not. Review your study resources for subjects that you recognize from the exam as this will help you remember questions from the test. Just mark or highlight everything you remember being on the test. Don’t study now. You will wait to begin studying again after you get the breakdown of your exam results from CCMC. Instead, once you have completed this take some time off and relax until after your results are listed on the exam dashboard.

How to Use Your Exam Results Breakdown

You should receive a notification from CCMC with a breakdown of your results. This will list each area of the exam with a proficient, marginal, or deficient rating. It may take a few weeks for you to get this. Once you receive this, call CCMC Customer Service to receive your numeric score for the exam.

You are going to want to spend the majority of your study time in the area(s) where you were deficient. Read over the chapter(s) in CCM Certification Made Easy, taking notes on the areas and subjects you are not proficient in. To be proficient you need to be able to relate the subject to best practice case management and understand how it would be used by a case manager. Use the links at the back of the chapter to further understand the concepts and subjects. You may even have to Google some of the terms if you are still having trouble.

As you learn something, stop and take the time to apply it. This can be done by thinking of a situation where you would use this new knowledge. You can make up a situation in your head. Just imagine DOING what you learned or TEACHING it to someone.

In the areas you are marginal you will do the same, but will not have as much to study as you already have a base.

For the areas you are proficient, be sure to review before the test to refresh your memory.

Additional Study Strategies

If you have not done so already, review my 10 page Study Strategies PDF. This free resource will help you to understand the test better, and give you links to additional free resources that are imperative to passing the CCM Exam. You can get it by clicking HERE and filling out the form on the right-hand side of the page. Then watch your inbox for a link to the PDF. (Use a personal email address as work email addresses do not allow emails with links to get through.) You will also get a series of additional emails from me with additional information you can use to help you pass the CCM Exam.

When I was preparing for the CCM Exam, I found that reading and studying small chunks at a time helped. I would read up on one subdomain and make sure I understood it well enough to explain it to someone else before moving on to the next. Sometimes the subdomain I was studying was easy and I would zoom through several in one session. Other times, I spent a long time on only one domain.

If you are an auditory learner who learns better when hearing information, or if you feel that you have reviewed and understand the facts but you need help knowing how to apply them to the questions, I have created a course with Anne Llewellyn that will help you. Anne has been in case management for decades and has tons of knowledge and expertise that she shares in the course. Where the book gives you the facts, the course is done in a conversational style and puts things into perspective. It also helps you discover areas where you might want to dig a little deeper.

Since you have access to the course until you pass the test, I recommend getting and completing it early in your studies. Then you can go back and relisten to the sections that you feel you need to hear again. I have had people tell me “I heard Anne’s voice talking to me during the test.”

Test Anxiety

Whether you have a history of test anxiety or it is a result of not passing the CCM Exam the first time, test anxiety can be debilitating. Taking a practice test like Datachem while using relaxation techniques and biofeedback may be helpful. If it is truly severe, you may need to seek counseling to help you resolve this issue.


Remember, many people do not pass their first attempt and go on to pass later. Use this as a learning experience to find your weak areas and master them. If, however, after using the information in this article you are still unsuccessful in passing the CCM Exam, you may want to consider another certification exam. Look for our upcoming article and resource Stepping Up To Certification to review your case management certification options.

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How Does Your Case Management Salary Compare?

How does your case management salary compare?Wonder how your employer compares with others? How does your case management salary compare to the industry? Need a reference to show your employer standards for salary, benefits, caseload, education, certification and continuing education reimbursement?

We have you covered. The 2018 Salary and Trends Survey provides all this and more.

The survey was participated in by 1,000 case management professions. It collated valuable data on the case management industry that helps us understand who case managers are, the challenges they face, their salary potential, job satisfaction and the value they bring to consumers of healthcare and the organizations for which they work.

The industry is highly concentrated by women where ninety-seven percent (97%) are female. One-third of the case managers are forty-five (45) years of age and under, which means the majority of the workforce is over forty-five (45).

Although there is no education requirement for case management, almost half of the case managers surveyed have a bachelor’s degree, with just over a quarter holding an associate’s degree and just under a quarter holding a master’s.

More and more employers are requiring certification in case management from their staff. 70% of respondents stated that their employer requires certification in case management. If the case manager does not have this certification when hired most employers expect it within 4 years of hire.

As a benefit of their experience, responsibilities, and value, professional case managers report strong income levels and comprehensive benefits packages.

The 2018 Case Management Salary and Trends survey revealed over half (53%) of professional case managers surveyed make between $70,000 and $90,000 per year with nearly one-fifth (12%) earning over $100,000. Compensation has gone up since 2015 which was the last time the salary and trends survey was completed.

After salary, the next parameter to consider is required work hours and time off. Case managers also have flexibility in when they work with two-thirds of the case managers having three weeks or more of vacation, and only one-fourth of case managers surveyed work weekends and/or holidays. This is huge considering that most nurses are used to working 2-3 weekends a month and every other holiday, at a minimum!

Overall case managers are very satisfied with their career choice. The results showed that the majority (92%) of case managers surveyed are pleased with their case management career choice and see themselves staying in the industry for many years to come. This is very encouraging at a time when many nurses are reporting poor job satisfaction and leaving the workforce.

Fill out the fields below to get your Salary and Trends Special Report

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CCM Exam Practice Questions

CCM Exam PracticeOne of the most frequently asked questions we get is regarding CCM exam practice questions. We post a practice question each weekday in our FaceBook Group Case Managers Community, with the answer posted the following day. But many people are looking for more than this. So we began researching options.

I would like to first stress the fact that I do not feel practice questions/tests are necessary to successfully prepare for the CCM Exam. Many people, including myself, have passed without taking a practice test. That being said, I do understand that some people like to add practice questions to the tools that they use to study.

I would recommend that anyone who has test anxiety use a practice test that simulates the CCM exam as much as possible. They should use the practice test in conjunction with relaxation techniques and biofeedback to learn how to cope with and overcome their test anxiety.

Practice questions/tests are also useful to gauge where you need to focus your study time. A good practice test will have questions in each of the Domains that CCMC will test you on and break down your results according to those domains so that you know where your strengths and weaknesses are.

I do not recommend practice questions/tests be the only study tools used. You still have to learn the material. “Guessing” at answers and reviewing the rationale to the ones you miss is really not studying, it’s learning to pass the practice test. Remember, mastering the practice test is not the same as mastering the information you need to know to pass the actual test. The actual test will have different questions and answer choices.

So what should you look for in a good practice test?

There are 2 things that are crucial. First, you want to know who wrote it. The person who wrote it should have passed the exam! Be skeptical of any practice questions whether in a book or digital format that do not list the names and credentials of the authors. It is also important that the rational, and when appropriate references, are listed along with the correct answer.

We were able to find a practice test we are proud to recommend: DataChem. DataChem met our minimum criteria stated in the last paragraph and also had additional features we feel are important.

DataChem has a practice test mode that allows you to determine the amount of time, the number of questions and the domains to include in your practice test. You have an unlimited number of times to use the practice test mode and can adjust the time, number of questions, and included domains each time.

In addition to the practice test mode, DataChem also has a study mode where you can read and answer one question at a time. You can also mark questions you are having trouble with and review them again at a later time.

DataChem has a large number of questions in its question pool. This means that you will not get the same questions over and over.

You have unlimited use of DataChem for the amount of time you purchase it for. The minimum is 60 days and the longest is 270. This is great because it gives you enough time to really use it to its fullest and not try to cram in all of your learning. You can use it as one of your study tools at regular intervals through your studies.  

I have created a demo video to walk you through some of the features of The Datachem CCM Practice Test Software. Click the link below to view the video and get additional information.

DataChem Demo Video for CCM Exam Practice Questions

When taking a practice test you will find information that is new to you. Don’t freak out! Use this as an opportunity to use your critical thinking and reasoning skills. You will come across questions on the actual test that you do not know the answer to. You have to know how to use the information provided and your knowledge base to answer these questions.

Please see our Affiliate disclosure at the following link Affiliate Disclosure

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Have You Ever Thought About Opening Your Own Case Management or Patient Advocacy Business?

starting your own case management business

Have you ever thought about starting your own Case Management or Patient Advocacy business?

Do you currently have a business you would like to grow?

Anne Llewellyn and I will be conducting a Pre-Conference Workshop on this subject at this year’s National Nurses in Business Association National Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada October 12-14. This nurse entrepreneurship and careers alternative conference is the #1 business conference for nurses!

In our pre-conference workshop, we will look at the emerging roles of case management and patient advocacy for nurse entrepreneurs. We will teach you how to break into independent practice and develop a business plan for success so that you can establish a profitable business. If this is something that would interest you we would love to see you there. You can get more information by clicking this link…

Case Management and Patient Advocacy: Career Paths for Nurses Who Want to Move Beyond the Bedside

During this pre-conference seminar, you will learn:

  • The similarities and differences between patient advocacy and case management
  • The skills and competencies needed to be successful
  • How to reach and maintain prospective clients

nurse entreprenuershipThe National Nurses In Business Association Conference is designed for nurses who are thinking about starting a business, those already in business, and those looking for career alternatives. Nationally acclaimed speakers and business experts will provide nurses with the information, tools and actionable take-a-ways you need to start your own nursing business—or to make your current business even more successful, as well as exposing you to a wealth of alternative career options. In addition, the seven pre-conference workshops will give you in depth, how–to information, resources, and dozens of tips whether you are a novice or a seasoned pro.

Now, more than ever, there are unlimited opportunities in nursing to achieve autonomy and take the lead in re-framing nurse’s role in the delivery of healthcare services and programs. Thousands of nurses nationwide have already accomplished this by starting their own business and are enjoying independence, professional respect, and increased financial rewards.

We would love to see you there! Click the button for more information…

National Nurses In Business Association Conference 2018


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