Know before you apply: Are you eligible to take the CCM exam?
Knowledge of case management terminology and current practice are among the essential elements you’ll need to pass the Certified Case Manager® (CCM®) exam. But earning the CCM is about more than book knowledge—after all, it’s an exam based on what case managers do in daily practice.
Becoming a board-certified case manager requires you to have both the core education (which may be represented by licensure) and experience to practice case management before you even apply to take the test.
Why require education and experience to apply? Because the CCM is a professional certification, validating you have what it takes to grasp the big picture as well as the boots-on-the-ground know-how needed to practice case management.
The Commission expanded CCM exam eligibility requirements in March 2013. With a growing demand for case managers, we recognized the need to increase the ranks. We also acknowledged that case managers with education from across the allied health spectrum can demonstrate they have what it takes to become board certified.
The Commission’s Certification Guide goes into detail about eligibility, but we’ll cover the basics here. Let’s tackle the education requirement first. Applicants must have one (not both, just one) of the following two options to apply:
- License/certification option: A current, active and unrestricted licensure or certification in a health and human services discipline that allows you to conduct a client assessment independently. Some examples of licenses and certifications that meet this eligibility requirement are: RN, LCSW, LMSW, LPC, CRC and CDMS.
- The LPN and LVN licenses do not meet the independent assessment criteria, so those licenses don’t qualify candidates to apply for the CCM.
- If you aren’t sure that your license or certification allows you to practice independently, contact your state governing board to find out.
- If your license doesn’t qualify you to take the CCM, think about using your degree to apply instead.
- Just remember, your license needs to be active and current at the time you would take the exam.
- Higher education option: A bachelor’s or graduate degree in social work, nursing, or another health or human services field that promotes the physical, psychosocial, and/or vocational well-being of those being served.
- Your degree must be from an accredited institution.
- The degree, as part of the curriculum, must include supervised field experience in case management, health, or behavioral health. A great example of this is a bachelor’s degree in social work.
- Do you have a bachelor’s degree, but you’re unsure whether it’s among the many we accept for eligibility? Just call us at 856-380-6836 to find out.
If you have a qualified license AND a qualified degree, choose the option that will support your renewal in the future.
Second comes the experience requirement. For all the options below, the Commission holds that only experience within the past five years should be considered, because health care changes so rapidly (and so does case management practice). Internships, preceptorships, practicum and volunteer experience are not accepted as employment experience.
Experience must be complete at the time you apply (not when you sit for the exam). The criteria are specific about the experience itself to ensure you’re doing comprehensive case management.
For all three options, your experience must include work in at least four of the five core components of case management. These align with the Knowledge Domains on the CCM exam:
- Care Delivery and Reimbursement Methods
- Psychosocial Concepts and Support Systems
- Quality and Outcomes Evaluation and Measurements
- Rehabilitation Concepts and Strategies
- Ethical, Legal, and Practice Standards.
Within each component, case managers must perform all eight essential activities with direct client contact (assess, plan, implement, coordinate, monitor, evaluate, outcomes, general tasks). Your experience must include providing services across the care continuum and interacting with others in the care system.
The Commission will ask you to provide the name and contact information for a supervisor in order to confirm your work experience. A current email—personal or professional—is required. This is simply the person that you report to (or have reported to) as a case manager, in contrast to the “supervision” required for some licenses, such as social work or licensed professional counselor.
How much qualified experience do you need? The Commission offers three ways for you to meet the requirement:
- 12 months of acceptable full-time case management employment, supervised by a board-certified case manager (CCM). Your Supervisor must be certified for at least one year at the time of your application.
- 24 months of acceptable full-time case management employment experience (no supervision by a CCM required under this option).
- 12 months of acceptable full-time case management employment experience as a supervisor of individuals who provide case management services. This must also fall in the last five years.
What if you work a part-time schedule? The Commission has a formula for that: We’ll pro-rate your experience based on a 37-hour work week (this is automatically calculated when you apply). Check the Certification Guide for details.
If it seems that eligibility criteria are a bit complicated, it’s because we try to ensure there are as many avenues open to qualified case managers as possible to apply for certification, while still ensuring the certification represents case manager excellence. Our goal is to certify and professionally support a qualified, ready workforce. And remember, we want to help, so don’t hesitate to call us at 856-380-6836.