Life Care Planner Jobs: Salary and Career Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in life care planning. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and certification information. Schools offering Clinical Social Work degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Life Care Planner Do?

A life care planner helps people with serious injuries or chronic illnesses adjust to their life situations. There are a number of career positions that fulfill this important role. For instance, some life care planners are registered nurses (RNs). After a patient has been diagnosed and received treatment, they counsel patients and their families on how to deal with injuries and illnesses once they have returned home. Some nurses focus specifically on rehabilitation care, focusing their careers on patients with temporary or permanent disabilities. Another job that could involve life care planning is a mental health counselor. They may offer advice on coping strategies to patients with mental health issues like anxiety or depression. Mental health counselors may also help patients who have recently received a serious medical diagnosis, such as cancer, to sort through their emotional concerns and develop a feasible lifestyle strategy. Healthcare social workers can perform similar functions, helping patients understand their diagnoses, transition to home life and/or deal with the emotional effects of disease. Some healthcare social workers focus their careers on geriatric or terminally ill patients.

The table below lists some key career facts regarding life care planners.

Registered Nurses Mental Health Counselors Healthcare Social Workers
Degree Required Master's Master's Master's
Education Field of Study Nursing with an emphasis in rehabilitation Psychology, counseling or social work with an emphasis in rehabilitation Social work with an emphasis in rehabilitation
Certification Certified Life Care Planner (CLCP) through the International Commission on Health Care Certification Certified Life Care Planner (CLCP) through the International Commission on Health Care Certification Certified Life Care Planner (CLCP) through the International Commission on Health Care Certification
Job Growth (2014-2024) 16% (for all registered nurses)* 20% (for all mental health counselors)* 19% (for all healthcare social workers)*
Median Salary (2015) $67,490 (for all registered nurses)* $41,880 (for all mental health counselors)* $52,380 (for all healthcare social workers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is a Life Care Planner?

A life care planner is an individual in the health care profession who focuses specifically on rehabilitation after a major trauma or chronic illness. Being an encouraging, compassionate person with the ability to assess a difficult situation and provide solutions to address the challenges presented could be very beneficial to you in this field.

You'll probably spend your time completing the following duties: assessing the needs of the patient; determining tools, equipment, programs and practices to address the patient's challenges; providing ongoing case management as the patient's needs fluctuate; advocating for determined medical provisions with insurance and coordinating with other medical professionals such as doctors and therapists. A great deal of this field is concentrated in case management for the patient.

What Type of Education or Training Will I Need?

Life care planners usually begin with a wide variety of backgrounds, but in order to become a Certified Life Care Planner (CLCP) through the International Commission on Health Care Certification (, you need a graduate degree with a rehabilitation focus in one of the following areas: life care planning, psychology, case management or counseling. You can also be a medical professional in any one of the following positions: a counselor with state certification, a case manager, a nurse with either a bachelor's or master's degree and an emphasis in rehabilitation, a psychologist with state licensure, a social worker with either a Master of Social Work (MSW) or state licensure, or a rehabilitation counselor. With any of these backgrounds and specific training in life care planning, you can take the certification exam.

What Is the Job Outlook?

Since you can come to this specialization from so many different career paths, it may be challenging to identify specifically what life care planner salaries are. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), registered nurse employment should experience growth of 16% between 2014 and 2024. As of 2015, these professionals earned a median salary of $67,490 per year. The growth of mental health counselor jobs between 2014 and 2024 was expected to be 20%. These professionals earned a median salary of $41,880 as of May, 2015. Healthcare social workers were expected to see a job growth of 19% between 2014 and 2024, and earned a median salary of $52,380 in 2015.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Nurses, counselors and social workers can specialize in an area of the field that does not involve life care planning. For instance, RNs can become critical care nurses, where they work in the emergency room or intensive care unit of hospitals to help stabilize patients with acute injuries or illnesses. This job requires a bachelor's degree. Alternatively, some mental health counselors choose to focus their practice on marriage therapy, which involves helping couples deal with relationship issues. All mental health counselors, including marriage therapists, need a master's degree and a license to practice. As a social worker, you could consider becoming a school social worker, where your duties could include developing plans for school improvement and helping students who have behavioral issues. The minimum educational requirement for this job is a bachelor's degree.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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