HEALTHCARE
May 27, 2021

Associate Degree in Healthcare Administration

If you have ever considered working in the medical field as an entry-level healthcare manager or administrator, now is a great time to advance your education.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 15% employment job growth in the healthcare industry between 2019 and 2029. They estimate a need for approximately 2.4 million new jobs during that time!

There will be added job opportunities for more in-patient, outpatient, and preventative healthcare services. As a result, medical institutions and personnel will require significantly more administrative help to manage increased patient care needs.

Professionals with an associate’s degree in healthcare administration will play an integral role in providing this support.

This article will review what an associate degree in healthcare administration is, what you can do with the degree, details about the education, your earning potential, and many other topics you need to know!

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What is an Associate Degree in Healthcare Administration? 

Healthcare administration associate degrees are two-year associate degree programs, usually offered at a community college or private university. These programs aim to prepare students as administrators or managers for entry-level positions throughout the healthcare field.

Graduates become knowledgeable in healthcare management, healthcare-related policies, clinical terminology, and essential computer proficiencies, among other health management-related tasks.

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What Can You Do with an Associate Degree in Healthcare Administration?

There is a wide range of career paths you might consider. Graduates have job opportunities in the following positions:

  • Health office manager
  • Healthcare administrator 
  • Medical secretary
  • Quality improvement manager
  • Customer service representative
  • Medical coder, biller, or transcriptionist
  • Medical secretary

Also, the degree can provide an insider’s view of what it’s like to work in the medical field. Some graduates decide to go on and earn bachelor’s or master’s degrees in the healthcare administration field. 

How Much Does It Cost to Earn an Associate Degree in Healthcare Administration?

The costs of an associates degree in health administration can vary significantly depending on several factors: 

  • The type of college (community colleges are usually less expensive)
  • Your program’s reputation and accreditation status
  • How you complete your coursework (online programs are often cheaper than in-person classes)
  • How fast you complete your degree (on a full-time or part-time basis)

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that public community colleges charge an average of $3,700 per year for a two-year degree (without additional expenses). Also, private institutions are much more expensive and charge between $15,000 and $18,000 for a two-year degree. 

How Long Does It Take to Complete an Associate Degree in Health Administration?

Most associate degrees in health administration programs take two years or less to complete

However, timeframes depend on the specific program and whether you attend part-time or full-time.

Some universities also offer accelerated degree programs for those who wish to get into a healthcare management role quickly. Another option is to get an associate degree in applied science (AAS) because it is a quicker option that requires fewer general education requirements. Just keep in mind that credits from an AAS will NOT be transferable to a bachelor’s degree in a healthcare administration program if you decide to pursue one in the future.

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How Much Can I Earn if I Graduate From an Associate in Healthcare Administration Degree program?

Your salary will depend on the specialty you wish to pursue.  According to the BLS, these are the 2020 median incomes for some potential career opportunities:

  • Medical administrative assistant, medical scheduler, and medical secretary - $38,850
  • Medical records/health information technician - $44,0904
  • Medical transcriptionist - $35,270

Also, your experience level, where you live, and the type of facility where you work also determine your income level. These positions usually offer additional employee benefits such as health insurance, paid time off, sick leave, and tuition reimbursement.

Career Outlook for Associate in Health Administration Degree Graduates

With the demand for healthcare professionals far outpacing other industries, the career outlook for graduates of associates in healthcare administration programs is promising in many areas.  

Credits earned in your two-year program are transferable towards a four-year bachelor’s degree program that can offer a wide range of additional career opportunities.

Associate in Health Administration Programs

There is a tremendous variation in the curriculum and focus of the many programs available, which include:

Associate of Art (AA)

A.A. degrees in health administration are more general degrees that offer additional math, science, writing, and other elective components.

Associate of Science (AS)

A.S. degrees focus more on math, science, and technical understanding needed for billing and reimbursement roles.

Associate of Applied Science (AAS)

A.A.S. programs provide immediate entry to a specific job role such as medical transcription. They rarely include general education credits that are transferable into baccalaureate programs in the future.

Associate in Health Administration Specialties

In addition to different types of degrees, associates in health administration programs frequently offer the option to select areas of specialization. 

Some of the more popular specialty areas include:

  • Health information management
  • Medical billing and coding
  • Health information technology
  • Healthcare management
  • Human Resource management

What are the Prerequisites for an Associate of Health Administration Program? 

Enrollment is available to students with a high school diploma or GED. Your university will also require the following:

  • Online application and application fee if applicable
  • High school transcripts (some programs may require a minimum GPA)
  • Personal statement or essay
  • Letters of recommendation 

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Accreditation 

You’ll want to ensure that your university has regional accreditation by one of the following authorities:

  • Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACCJC)
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA)
  • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools/Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

Ensuring that your university is regionally accredited makes it possible to transfer your credits toward a baccalaureate degree in the future. 

Coursework 

Though every associate’s degree in healthcare administration program varies, some core classes are universally required, such as:

  • Medical Terminology
  • Medical Office Management I and II
  • Healthcare Management
  • Anatomy and Physiology I and II
  • Medical Coding I and II
  • Healthcare Informatics
  • Healthcare Law, Policy and Regulations

Paying for an Associate Degree in Healthcare Administration

  • Though associate degree programs tend to be more affordable than baccalaureate programs, they can still cost thousands of dollars per year.
  • Here are a few resources available to help aspiring students pay for associates degrees:
  • Check out direct funding options or loan programs that your state offers. Be sure to investigate the rates and terms of each program.
  • Research grants and scholarships available for you. Start with your school’s website or financial aid office for information. Some private organizations and special interest groups offer funding based on financial need, academic excellence, participation in social or volunteer activities, career goals, and more. 
  • If your program is accredited, federal aid is available. Fill out a FAFSA form to determine how much assistance you can receive.
  • See if your current employer offers tuition reimbursement.

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How to Know if an Associate Degree in Healthcare Administration is Right for You

If you are interested in working on the business and management side of medicine but don’t want to work as a clinician, an associate’s degree in healthcare administration might be the perfect career for you. 

Here are some other qualities needed to be successful in a healthcare administrative career:

  • Great organizational abilities
  • Quality communication skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • A desire to help the greater good
  • High integrity and discretion for private patient information
  • A desire to learn about medical terminology
  • Ability to adapt to changing healthcare laws and procedures
  • Ability to work well on a team of other healthcare professionals

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FAQs

  • What can I do with an associate degree in healthcare administration?
    • An associate degree in healthcare administration will prepare you for entry-level management positions in almost any business area of healthcare. Some potential healthcare facilities you might work in include hospitals, healthcare systems, private practices, insurance companies, nursing homes, and other long-term care facilities.
  • How much can you make with an associate degree in healthcare administration?
    • Salaries earned by healthcare administrators can vary depending upon the position, your experience in the field, the type of business you work in, and the geographic region where you love. The median annual salary in the U.S. for associated degree-educated healthcare administrators is between $35,000 to $45,000.
  • How long does it take to get an associate degree in healthcare administration?
    • Most of these degrees require that students complete 60 credit hours, which usually takes two years or less. 
  •  Is it worth getting an associate in healthcare administration degree?
    • Obtaining an associate degree in healthcare administration will provide you with many entry-level job opportunities as a healthcare manager that you would not be eligible for otherwise.
    • Healthcare organizations value professionals with an associate’s degree in healthcare administration because they know their employees have specialized education and training to help them succeed on the job.  
    • Additionally, getting an associate’s degree will make it easier to get a bachelor’s degree in the future. Your credits are transferable to a baccalaureate program that can earn you even more money in the future.

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