3 Steps to Becoming a Healthcare Administrator | Salary & Programs


    GUIDE
    June 25, 2021
    Business woman at table with various healthcare professionals
    Kathleen Gaines
    By: Kathleen Gaines MSN, RN, BA, CBC

    Updated 6/25/2021

    By: Kathleen Gaines MSN, BA, RN, CBC

    Healthcare is one of the most in-demand fields out there right now. While there are tons of patient-care and bedside healthcare careers available, not everyone wants to go that route. If you fall into that category, but still want the stability and opportunity of the medical field, consider a career in healthcare administration.

    Healthcare administration is a rapidly growing field with lots of room for career advancement, high earning potential, work-from-home opportunities, and degree programs you can complete online. 

    This guide will explain everything you need to know about getting started in healthcare administration, so keep reading!

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    Part One What is a Healthcare Administrator?

    Healthcare administrators, also known as healthcare executives or healthcare services managers, plan, coordinate and direct healthcare services.

    Healthcare administrators work closely with medical physicians, nurses, and other staff to ensure healthcare or medical facilities run smoothly, safely, and are compliant with all state and national regulations. 

    Healthcare administrators typically do not deal with patients on a day-to-day basis but rather help shape policies and make healthcare changes. They oversee the daily operations of a medical facility, including staffing, finance, and overall healthcare compliance to all governing bodies. 

    Healthcare administrators are responsible for communicating with staff throughout the hospital and delegating appropriate duties to other individuals. 

    Part Two What Healthcare Administration Careers are Available?

    Healthcare administration is a vast field and so are the career opportunities within it! From entry-level healthcare administration roles like a medical administrative assistant to hospital CEOs, there's something for everyone.

    Check out our guide to healthcare administration careers for an overview of all the opportunities available. Or, if you want to jump straight to the money jobs, check out our list of the highest-paying healthcare administration jobs.

    Here are some of the popular careers available in healthcare administration:

    • Hospital CEO
    • Hospital department manager
    • Hospital CFO
    • Nursing home administrator
    • Clinic administrator
    • Medical office business manager
    • Facility operations specialist
    • Manager of health care staffing agency
    • Health Information Manager
    • Healthcare Information Administrator
    • Healthcare Policy Specialist
    • Healthcare Program Director

    Part Three Healthcare Administrator Salary 

    Healthcare Administrators are one of the best paying careers available for those who want to get in the healthcare field, but don't want to go the nursing route. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a 2020 median salary of  $104,280 per year or $50.13 per hour for medical and health services managers. 

    The BLS does not differentiate between different healthcare administrators and managers; so this figure is not specific to Healthcare Administrators. However, according to Payscale.com the average annual salary for healthcare administrators is $67,141. But you can earn a higher annual salary with increased years of experience:

    1. 1-4 years of experience earn an average salary of $60,544
    2. 5-9 years of experience earns an average salary of $71,996
    3. 10-19 years of experience earns an average salary of $81,532
    4. 20+ years of experience earns an average salary of $89,746

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    Top Paying Cities for Healthcare Administrators

    As of 2020, the highest paying cities for Healthcare Administrators that have reported salaries, according to payscale.com, are:

    1. Chicago, Illinois - $89,320
    2. Los Angeles, California - $81,218
    3. Miami, Florida - $72,945 
    4. Atlanta, Georgia - $72,414 
    5. New York, New York - $71,216

    Part Four What Do Healthcare Administrators Do?

    Healthcare administrators are in charge of day to day operations such as creating work schedules, monitoring budgets, maintaining compliance with state laws and regulations. They are also responsible for coordinating with other medical and nursing professionals throughout the organization.

    They work closely with medical physicians, registered nurses, and other healthcare professionals as well as patients and their families. Healthcare administrators generally work first shift in order to collaborate with other healthcare professionals. 

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    Part Five How to Become a Healthcare Administrator

    1. Earn a Degree

    Anyone interested in becoming a healthcare administrator will likely want to earn either an Associate Degree in Healthcare Administration or a Bachelor's in Healthcare Administration.

    In these programs, you’ll take classes in medical coding, anatomy and physiology, business management, human relations and resource management, healthcare marketing, and finance and delivery systems.

    You can also earn related degrees such as medical or nursing, and then continue your education with an additional degree or a post-bachelor's or post-graduate certificate in healthcare administration (More on those options in the next sections.) 

    2. Advance Your Education

    Completing a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) or Master’s in Healthcare Administration (MHA) or going all the way to the doctorate level is key to working in top healthcare administrator positions. Without this degree, you will be limited to entry-level positions in smaller facilities or at only a departmental level within health care organizations. 

    3. Earn Advanced Certifications 

    There are several advanced certifications that are helpful for healthcare administrators. The American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management offers several certifications including: Certified Revenue Cycle Executive (CRCE), Certified Revenue Cycle Professional, and Certified Revenue Integrity Professional.

    Part Six Healthcare Administration Degrees

    When it comes to healthcare administration, there's not just one default degree to get. From associate to PhD, there's a degree for every level and every career goal. You can learn more in our Ultimate Guide to Healthcare Administration Degrees.

    Types of Healthcare Administration Degrees

    Healthcare Administration Degree Prerequisites Total Program Cost Program Length Career Opportunities
    Associate Degree in Healthcare Administration 

    High School Diploma or GED

    Minimum GPA

    $5,000 to $20,000 16-24 months

    Entry-level healthcare careers such as:

    • Medical administrative assistant
    • Medical records assistant
    • Medical transcriptionist
    Bachelor's Degree in Healthcare Administration 

    High School Diploma or GED

    Minimum GPA

    Standardized Test Scores

    $30,000 for in-state and upwards of  $100,000 for private universities 4 years

    Mid-level healthcare administration careers such as:

    • Community health manager
    • Healthcare consultant
    • Health insurance analyst
    • Health policy analyst
    • Health promotion specialist
    • Health services manager
    • Medical reimbursement analyst
    • Medical services administrator
    • Nursing home administrative assistant
    • Private practice officer manager
    Master's Degree in Healthcare Administration (MHA)

    Bachelors Degree in Business or Healthcare Administration

    GPA minimum

    GRE or GMAT scores

    Relevant work experience

    Resume or CV

    Letters of recommendation

    $10,000 to $100,000 12 months to 3 years

    High-level roles as healthcare executives including:

    • CEO or COO
    • Clinic director 
    • Department or division director
    • Facility manager
    • Healthcare consultant
    • Health services manager
    • Hospital administrator
    • Long-term care manager
    • Medical records manager
    • Nurse manager
    MBA in Healthcare Management

    Bachelors Degree in a related field

    GPA minimum

    GRE or GMAT scores

    Relevant work experience

    Resume or CV

    Letters of recommendation

    $10,000 to $100,000 12 months to 3 years

    An MBA in Healthcare Managament focuses on business management and leadership for healthcare professionals.

    High-level roles as healthcare executives including:

    • Policy analyst
    • Clinical director
    • Hospital chief executive officer
    • Medical records manager
    • Health and social services manager
    • Chief Nursing Officer (CNO)
    • Chief Financial Operator (CFO)
    • Medical Manager
    • Nursing home administrator
    • Health information manager
    • Healthcare administrators
    • Pharmaceutical project manager
    Doctorate Degree in Health Administration (DHA)

    Master's Degree

    CV or resume

    Interview

    Letters of recommendations

    Minimum GPA of 3.0

    Personal statement

    Relevant work experience

    $60,000+ 3 to 5 years Earning a doctorate degree in healthcare administration qualifies individuals for all of the same jobs as having a Master’s degree. However, most DHA holders are interested in careers in research and/or academia.
    PhD in Healthcare Administration

    Master's Degree

    CV or resume

    Interview

    Letters of recommendations

    Minimum GPA of 3.0

    Personal statement

    Relevant work experience

    $60,000+ 3 to 5 years Similar to a DHA, this is a terminal degree that focuses on research and education. The main purpose of this program is scientific and investigative research, especially through experiments and research. 

    Part Seven Healthcare Administration Certificates

    Degrees aren't your only option when it comes to getting into a healthcare administration career. There are also healthcare administration certificate programs available for both post-bachelor's and post-master's degrees. 

    Essentially, depending on which degree you currently hold -- a bachelor's or master's degree -- you can complete an add-on certification to the degree you already have. This can be to a degree you have in a related field, to help you add some additional management or leadership skills to your career, or one outside of health administration if you're looking to make a career change. 

    Part Eight What is the Career Outlook for a Healthcare Administrator?

    According to the BLS, employment of medical and health services managers (ex. Healthcare administrators) is projected to grow 32% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. 

    Much of this growth is expected to be seen as the baby boomer population continues to age as well as technology that allows patients to live longer lives. 

    This demand will continue to increase the needs of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professions; therefore, healthcare administrators will be needed in order to ensure operations run smoothly.

    Part Nine Where Can Healthcare Administrators Work?

    Healthcare Administrators can work in a variety of settings including, 

    1. Nursing Facilities
    2. Community Health Centers
    3. Drug Treatment Facilities
    4. Consulting Firms for Healthcare
    5. Government Health Agencies
    6. International Health Agencies
    7. Professional Healthcare Associations
    8. Mental Health Centers
    9. Ambulatory Care Centers
    10. Adult Day Care Centers
    11. Academia
    12. Consulting Firms
    13. Medical Supply Companies
    14. Outpatient Surgery Centers
    15. Health Insurance Companies
    16. Managed Care Facilities
    17. Rehabilitation Centers
    18. Hospitals
    19. Urgent Care Clinics
    20. Private physician practices
    21. Home healthcare agencies
    22. Small or large group medical practices

    Part Ten What are the Continuing Education Requirements for Healthcare Administrators?

    There are no formal requirements for continuing education for healthcare administrators. Despite this, most healthcare administrators voluntarily choose to engage in ongoing education. Ongoing education is offered in a variety of ways including,

    • Workshops
    • Online Programs
    • Certifications
    • Third-Party Training Programs
    • Short Courses

    Healthcare administrators that have medical or nursing degrees and retain their licensure will be responsible for ongoing education to maintain those licenses. 

    Continuing education requirements will vary state by state and are dependent specifics for the state.  

    It’s important to note that not all healthcare administrators are required to have a medical or nursing license. In fact, most have an MBA and have backgrounds in management, public health, or other related specializations. 

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    Part Eleven Where Can I Learn More About Healthcare Administration?

    Part Eleven Healthcare Administrator FAQs 

    • What can I do with a Healthcare Administration degree?

      • With an entry-level healthcare administration degree, individuals can work in a variety of healthcare services. Other roles can include office managers, administrative assistants, medical insurance specialists, or consultants. After earning an advanced degree, such as an MBA or MHA, individuals can become a top-level administrator. 
    • What does a Healthcare Administrator do?

      • Healthcare administrators are in charge of day to day operations including creating work schedules, monitoring budgets, maintaining compliance with state laws and regulations. They are also responsible for coordinating with other medical and nursing professionals throughout the organization. 
    • How do I start a career in Healthcare Administration?

      • First, you must obtain a degree with applicability to healthcare administration. Joining an association such as the American College of Healthcare Executives and making connections in the field will help advance your career.

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