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How to Become a Health Care Administrator

What Does a Health Care Administrator Do?

two healthcare administrators talking

Health care administrators manage health care facilities, which gives them wide-ranging influence within the world of medicine. The leadership that they provide sets the future course not only for the facilities they manage but also for the health care system as a whole. Managing a health care facility today is the close equivalent to managing an entire city. It’s a dynamic environment of specialized groups that have both direct and indirect relationships with one another, and at times, competing interests.

To lead a health care facility requires careful budgeting, tough decision-making, and above all else, the ability to maintain the respect and cooperation of diverse interest groups that are sometimes adversely affected by an administrator’s decisions. Within this environment, a health care administrator is responsible for establishing health care standards, making strategic policy decisions and implementing the personnel management procedures necessary to support his vision. In addition to the internal leadership they provide, health care administrators are leaders within the greater community as well. They partner with other health care organizations, comply with government regulations, advocate and testify on behalf of health care policies, and maintain campuses that are significant to communities.

Although the professional titles of health care administrators vary according to their place of employment, the significance of the work they accomplish – and the interdisciplinary skill set required to do so – is universal. Healthcare administrators have the challenge and opportunity to deliver high quality health care within an appealing work environment while contributing positively to the greater community at large. There are few positions within the health care arena as exciting, versatile and rewarding as that of the health care administrator – who has the opportunity to lead, inspire and enact policies of far-reaching consequence.

Workplace Details

About 40 percent of health care administrators work within hospitals. Other employment settings include physicians’ offices, small or large group medical practices, long-term nursing care facilities, home health care agencies, and outpatient clinics or centers. Within these settings, they manage whole facilities or a specific department. Most health care administrators work full-time business hours, but those responsible for 24-hour facilities should expect to work on an urgent or emergent basis during off hours including weekends, nights or holidays.

Salary and Job Outlook

State
Average Wage
California
$122800
New York
$135640
Texas
$104740
Ohio
$99000
Pennsylvania
$99260

Hover over any state to explore local income and job growth data.

Created with Raphaël 2.1.0 AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE DC FL GA HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY

ALABAMA

Median Salary: 
$88,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $57,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $151,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 14%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 100

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Birmingham$64,750$98,400$167,900
Huntsville$60,540$87,980$150,150

ALASKA

Median Salary: 
$107,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $65,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Anchorage$63,980$107,560Over $187,200
Fairbanks$86,350$111,190$123,870

ARIZONA

Median Salary: 
$92,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $56,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 21%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 430

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Phoenix$58,200$92,480Over $187,200
Tuscon$51,210$91,590Over $187,200

ARKANSAS

Median Salary: 
$74,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $44,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $124,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 120

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Little Rock$51,720$84,810$140,120
Fort Smith$44,440$72,030$120,870

CALIFORNIA

Median Salary: 
$117,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $56,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 20%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,400

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Los Angeles$49,800$109,500$183,080
San Francisco Bay$72,120$142,370Over $187,200
San Diego$53,250$111,290$180,190
Sacramento$65,810$136,560Over $187,200

COLORADO

Median Salary: 
$102,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $63,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $175,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 34%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 240

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Denver$69,020$110,820$177,910
Colorado Springs$49,690$89,360Over $187,200

CONNECTICUT

Median Salary: 
$107,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $69,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 180

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Hartford$66,990$104,330Over $187,200
Bridgeport$72,020$108,310Over $187,200
New Haven$81,720$113,960Over $187,200

DELAWARE

Median Salary: 
$102,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $72,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $171,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 14%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Wilmington$71,650$103,820$179,700
Dover$66,810$84,410$121,370

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Median Salary: 
$121,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $74,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 11%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 70

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Washington DC$75,670$108,150$168,220

FLORIDA

Median Salary: 
$99,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $65,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $174,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 25%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 610

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Miami$66,740$103,290Over $187,200
Orlando$65,590$111,190Over $187,200
Tampa$66,390$100,180$174,950
Jacksonville$62,580$93,250$157,730

GEORGIA

Median Salary: 
$91,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $50,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $157,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 21%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 320

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Atlanta$49,770$97,600$165,470
Augusta$54,680$86,580$150,070

HAWAII

Median Salary: 
$104,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $49,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $170,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 50

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Honolulu$68,030$110,100$176,670

IDAHO

Median Salary: 
$76,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $45,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $123,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 20%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 820

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Boise$48,180$78,880$125,440
Idaho Falls$46,470$76,120$108,170

ILLINOIS

Median Salary: 
$94,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $53,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $152,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 7%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 460

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Chicago$58,360$100,220$156,570
Rockford$52,960$91,630$151,580

INDIANA

Median Salary: 
$80,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $48,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $133,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 20%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 370

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Indianapolis$51,280$86,960$158,480
South Bend$52,580$75,720$117,360
Fort Wayne$46,340$80,690$150,840

IOWA

Median Salary: 
$73,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $49,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $119,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 200

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Des Moines$52,580$78,060$123,340
Cedar Rapids$47,660$72,460$111,250

KANSAS

Median Salary: 
$75,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $51,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $125,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 110

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Wichita$51,200$73,040$118,190
Kansas City$59,480$90,600$151,370

KENTUCKY

Median Salary: 
$81,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $52,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $139,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 35%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 300

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Louisville$54,300$84,720$142,950
Lexington$57,840$93,260$141,120

LOUISIANA

Median Salary: 
$81,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $54,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $125,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 110

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
New Orleans$61,490$84,640$128,310
Baton Rouge$50,040$83,760$139,380
Lafayette$52,390$81,400$121,290

MAINE

Median Salary: 
$82,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $55,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $148,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 70

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Portland$65,170$87,890$147,990
Lewiston$53,980$82,520$121,930

MARYLAND

Median Salary: 
$100,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $66,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $160,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 21%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 510

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Baltimore$64,800$96,660$174,690
Frederick$81,230$105,970$158,690

MASSACHUSETTS

Median Salary: 
$100,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $62,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $175,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 8%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 370

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Boston$67,930$107,470$186,190
Worcester$55,130$91,410Over $187,200
Springfield$57,710$96,070$168,260

MICHIGAN

Median Salary: 
$88,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $53,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $157,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 440

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Detroit$51,710$91,740$184,540
Grand Rapids$59,560$86,670Over $187,200

MINNESOTA

Median Salary: 
$93,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $57,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $154,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 260

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Minneapolis - St. Paul$58,540$96,700$167,640
Rochester$72,160$107,820$156,430

MISSISSIPPI

Median Salary: 
$75,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $44,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $126,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 100

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Jackson$54,140$84,500$132,550
Gulfport$52,590$77,830$128,220

MISSOURI

Median Salary: 
$91,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $54,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $158,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 200

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
St. Louis$58,200$94,850$164,670
Kansas City$59,480$90,600$151,370

MONTANA

Median Salary: 
$80,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $44,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $123,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 50

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Billings$58,380$88,700$139,670
Missoula$42,090$79,800$128,830

NEBRASKA

Median Salary: 
$85,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $54,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $140,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 120

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Omaha$59,780$89,840$151,810
Lincoln$52,700$85,280$131,140

NEVADA

Median Salary: 
$98,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $50,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $155,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 22%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 100

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Las Vegas$49,930$97,220$152,330
Reno$56,900$110,570$185,300

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Median Salary: 
$93,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $62,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $156,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 70

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Manchester$67,440$99,170$160,950
Nashua$60,480$83,980$123,140

NEW JERSEY

Median Salary: 
$110,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $81,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $160,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 14%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 390

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Newark$82,850$111,810$163,880
Trenton$79,510$106,140Over $187,200

NEW MEXICO

Median Salary: 
$87,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $50,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $159,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 90

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Albuquerque$49,700$88,940$166,130
Las Cruces$58,200$93,340$181,370

NEW YORK

Median Salary: 
$113,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $70,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,190

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
New York City$75,970$118,190Over $187,200
Buffalo$66,110$95,080$155,370
Rochester$59,330$90,400$159,120
Albany$63,500$90,860$148,930

NORTH CAROLINA

Median Salary: 
$94,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $67,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $159,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 22%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 390

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Charlotte$67,560$95,090$165,020
Raleigh$65,880$93,370$158,560
Greensboro$66,920$99,980$153,520
Winston - Salem$66,670$90,260$160,700

NORTH DAKOTA

Median Salary: 
$78,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $52,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $130,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 21%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Fargo$55,980$92,130Over $187,200
Bismarck$51,890$74,840$111,240

OHIO

Median Salary: 
$87,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $60,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $142,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 700

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Cleveland$65,270$89,180$134,250
Columbus$59,430$90,490$163,700
Cincinnati$64,470$93,780$149,300
Dayton$63,770$90,360$141,140

OKLAHOMA

Median Salary: 
$75,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $46,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $125,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 240

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Oklahoma City$45,760$76,180$136,570
Tulsa$48,790$76,730$115,580

OREGON

Median Salary: 
$97,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $55,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $179,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 170

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Portland$56,750$102,180Over $187,200
Salem$62,670$93,530$128,450

PENNSYLVANIA

Median Salary: 
$85,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $51,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $151,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 570

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Philadelphia$62,750$100,490$164,700
Pittsburgh$52,570$78,860$137,990
Harrisburg$54,480$87,660Over $187,200
Allentown$48,780$84,620$139,100

RHODE ISLAND

Median Salary: 
$99,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $67,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $181,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 50

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Providence$64,490$97,240$172,760

SOUTH CAROLINA

Median Salary: 
$81,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $47,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $138,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 190

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Greenville$40,010$69,440$127,990
Columbia$44,640$78,840$140,850
Charleston$57,800$89,710$145,030

SOUTH DAKOTA

Median Salary: 
$96,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $65,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $139,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 7%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Sioux Falls$68,410$104,800$158,130
Rapid City$61,760$103,960$132,670

TENNESSEE

Median Salary: 
$80,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $50,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $140,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 31%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 410

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Nashville$52,710$84,460$151,840
Memphis$50,350$89,480$146,310
Knoxville$47,670$73,590$126,140
Chattanooga$51,080$81,090$142,850

TEXAS

Median Salary: 
$91,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $55,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $153,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 29%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,070

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Dallas - Ft. Worth$58,920$93,170Over $187,200
Houston$54,040$101,080$159,070
San Antonio$61,620$92,590$143,230
Austin$54,890$89,470$129,650

UTAH

Median Salary: 
$90,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $52,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $156,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 32%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 150

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Salt Lake City$57,810$94,590$166,230
Ogden$52,450$84,820$141,690

VERMONT

Median Salary: 
$84,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $54,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $153,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Burlington$50,720$82,420$145,610

VIRGINIA

Median Salary: 
$95,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $59,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $162,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 18%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 300

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Virginia Beach$61,710$91,250$147,110
Richmond$58,050$98,970Over $187,200

WASHINGTON

Median Salary: 
$102,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $62,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 19%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 300

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Seattle$65,900$109,830Over $187,200
Spokane$60,000$94,630$159,220

WEST VIRGINIA

Median Salary: 
$90,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $55,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $162,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Huntington$54,870$92,310$145,780
Charleston$52,850$94,030Over $187,200

WISCONSIN

Median Salary: 
$83,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $51,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $132,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 260

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Milwaukee$49,730$86,400$143,350
Madison$64,070$92,390$139,610

WYOMING

Median Salary: 
$85,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $55,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $133,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Cheyenne$59,430$86,980$129,660
Casper$52,630$81,760$130,410

When calculating salaries, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual wage for all health care administrators is $96,540. For the bottom ten percent of earners, the median salary is $56,970, while the median income of the top ten percent is $172,240.

Higher salaries are usually awarded to professionals with the most responsibility and those who oversee larger practices or facilities. For example, according to the BLS May 2016 Occupational Outlook Handbook, administrators overseeing smaller facilities with fewer than six physicians could expect a median compensation closer to $87,542. Those overseeing larger facilities could see a median salary of $104,340.

More employment opportunities are expected in the area of medical practice management than in other areas of health care administration because of the trends toward outpatient care and an overall increased demand for health care services. There is also expected to be an increase in the need for long-term care administrators because of aging baby boomers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports job growth for all health care administrators to be 17% from 2014 to 2024, which is considered much faster than average for all occupations.

Compare Salaries by City

New York City NY Median Pay

$118190 Per Year

$56.82 Per Hour

Los Angeles CA Median Pay

$109500 Per Year

$52.64 Per Hour

Steps to Become a Health Care Administrator

1

Earn a bachelor's degree.

A bachelor’s degree (usually requiring four years) is the typical entry-level preparation needed for health care administration jobs. Some employers, however, will promote from within or hire other professionals with related experience (such as nurses) who are ideal for an administrative role because of their direct health care knowledge. Subspecialties are sometimes available within undergraduate programs, though this is more common in grad school.

Show Me Schools »

Prospective health care administrators should look for educational programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education. An accredited program has successfully gone through a process that ensures accountability and a commitment to quality improvement.

2

Complete a graduate program.

For high-level executive positions, a graduate education (two to three years) is usually the starting point, and in other cases it will be preferable. This means attaining an MBA, or a different type of master’s degree, or a doctorate in health administration. Subspecialties are often available in graduate programs. These include long-term care administration, health care services, or health information management.

Some graduate programs in health care administration have real-world internships as part of the curriculum. Students often spend time in an ancillary or assistant role under the mentorship of a health administrator, or participate in a special project designed to benefit a facility or health care practice.

3

Determine whether you need a license.

In most areas of health care administration, a license is not needed. One notable exception is for administrators of long-term care nursing facilities and some assisted living facilities. State license requirements vary from state to state, but a licensing examination and proof successful completion of an educational program are typical elements of the licensing process.

4

Consider certification.

Certification is mostly an optional process, depending on a health care administrator’s role and professional goals. Certification is offered by professional associations such as the American College of Health Care Administrators (for long-term care/assisted living professionals) and the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management (for medical practice managers).

5

Explore avenues for career advancement.

Healthcare administrators usually choose to move up the executive ladder. For instance, a manager of a department may become an executive in charge of multiple departments or an entire facility. If a health care administrator doesn’t already have it, a graduate education is sometimes necessary for this kind of advancement. Experienced health care administrative professionals are also ideal for taking on consultant roles, becoming educators, or becoming policy makers in a public service or government capacity.

Explore Degree Paths

BACHELOR'S DEGREE

4 years

Most entry-level healthcare administrator jobs require a bachelor’s degree. These include middle-management positions in hospitals, physician practices, insurance organizations, nursing facilities, and government agencies.

Employers hiring healthcare administrators will typically accept a wide range of college majors, especially if the candidate has some healthcare experience. If you’re new to the field, consider majoring in:

  • Healthcare administration
  • Public health administration
  • Business administration
  • Health information management

Another option is a health professions degree like nursing — especially if you plan to work clinically for a few years before moving into administration.

Many universities and online schools offer health administration bachelor’s degrees. If you choose the online option, it’s best to find a program that offers some face-to-face instruction in the form of classes, seminars, or an internship.

Show Me Schools »

A word of caution: with the exception of CAHIIM, which accredits health information management programs, there’s no accreditor specializing in healthcare administration bachelor’s degrees. This sometimes makes it difficulty to judge a program’s quality. Public and private non-profit colleges generally offer the best educational value. You can also check with employers or working healthcare administrators in your area to learn which schools are most respected.

Healthcare administration students at the bachelor’s level often study:

Healthcare ethics

Looks at values conflicts and philosophical issues related to healthcare, including right to live, informed consent, and human experimentation.

Healthcare program evaluation

Practice measuring the quality and effectiveness of healthcare programs, including patient safety and clinical outcomes.

Healthcare quality management

Study methods to understand and improve an organization’s operational performance, including patient flow, safety, and satisfaction.

Healthcare marketing

Learn how organizations identify and reach potential partners, including patients, providers, and payers.

MASTER'S DEGREE

Additional 2–3 years after bachelor's degree

The American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) recommends that healthcare administrators hold a master’s degree at minimum. Many employers prefer candidates with graduate degrees, especially large organizations that are hiring for executive positions.

Healthcare administration master’s candidates typically major in:

  • Health administration (MS, MHA)
  • Public health (MPH)
  • Health services administration (MHSA)
  • Business administration (MBA) with a healthcare concentration

It’s also possible to combine a clinical degree with an administrative one (for example, medicine or nursing with an MBA).

The Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) accredits graduate programs in healthcare administration. Many employers and fellowship administrators prefer candidates from accredited programs.

ACHE emphasizes the importance of face-to-face instruction in health administration education. However, many schools offer an executive option to meet the needs of working professionals. This track typically combines blocks of face-to-face instruction with online learning.

At the master’s level, healthcare administration students can expect to study:

Healthcare finance

Learn how organizations fund their operations and use their profits to improve business.

Healthcare delivery systems

Looks at the structure and function of healthcare organizations, including policy, reimbursement, regulation, and community considerations.

Healthcare law

Study how the legal system is used to resolve health-related disputes, including torts and contract and employment conflicts.

Health information technology

Learn how information systems are used to manage patient information, gather data, meet reporting requirements, and inform healthcare business decisions.

Most master’s-level programs also include field experience in the form of clinical rotations or an administrative residency. Many healthcare administration master’s students complete an optional one-year fellowship after graduation.

Keys to Success as a Health Care Administrator

Necessary Skills and Qualities

Analytical and versatile

Change is always in the air when it comes to the provision of health care. Healthcare administrators must be adept at adjusting to new developments in health care law, technology and policies. They need to be flexible, creative, analytical and organized in putting policy changes into practice.

Communication

Healthcare administrators must be able to effectively communicate with people at all professional levels, specialties and roles. Part of doing this well is keeping abreast of what goes on in their department or facility, and knowing details of all employees’ daily responsibilities.

Professionalism

Because they are leaders and often operate as the “face” of their organization, health care administrators must always maintain professionalism in demeanor and appearance.

Credentialing Information

The following organizations offer voluntary certification for healthcare administrators. Candidates must meet eligibility requirements (usually a combination of educational and work experience) and pass an exam.

American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE)

  • Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE) – Requires a master’s degree or higher and 5 years of work experience at the executive level

Professional Association of Health Care Office Management (PAHCOM) certifies managers of physician office practices. Candidates must have two years of relevant experience and 12 college credit hours in healthcare and business.

  • Certified Medical Manager (CMM)
  • Health Information Technology Certified Manager (HITCM-PP)

American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA) offers credentials for nursing home and assisted living administrators. Certification requires two years licensure (where required by the state) and 40 hours of continuing education.

  • Certified Nursing Home Administrator (CNHA)
  • Certified Assisted Living Administrator (CALA)

American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) has a certification program for administrators of health information technology programs. Candidates must hold a four-year degree or higher from an AHIMA-approved program.

  • Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA)
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