If you’re interested in a career in healthcare administration, we have great news for you: You’ve got a lot of options to choose from! The field of healthcare administration is extremely broad, with many specialties and lots of room for growth.
To help you navigate your healthcare career, we’ve broken down the different fields a degree in healthcare administration applies to, what you can expect, and what you will need to get there.
Part One Why Pursue a Career in Healthcare Administration?
There are a lot of reasons to choose a career in healthcare administration. You may be drawn to the healthcare field, but not desire a role in hands-on patient care. Or, you may have strong managerial skills that can be utilized at the healthcare level.
Some pursue a healthcare administration degree for a more regular work-life balance. For instance, many healthcare administration roles offer a high salary, no weekend or holiday work (unlike other healthcare roles like nursing), benefits, and the opportunity for upward career growth.
Healthcare administration also offers the opportunity for many people to get involved in a role that makes a difference to both individuals and to the community they are serving. It can be a rewarding career path with the opportunity to work as a team leader.
Part Two Where Can You Work in Healthcare Administration?
With a degree in healthcare administration, there are many different areas you could find yourself working in. Workplaces range from small, private medical offices to hospitals to non-hospital settings with insurance or medical sales companies.
Healthcare administration degree holders also work in:
- Healthcare facilities
- Nursing homes
- Healthcare organizations
- Long-term care facilities
- Health information organizations
- Nonprofit organizations
- Pharmaceutical development or sales
- Health insurance agencies
- Ambulatory services
Part Three How to Plan Your Healthcare Administration Career Path
There are many avenues in healthcare administration, each with multiple routes that you can take to get where you want to go.
For instance, you could begin with an entry-level position such as a medical assistant as you pursue a bachelor’s degree. Or, you could transition from a position as a hands-on healthcare provider as a registered nurse into a manager.
Alternatively, you could work directly towards a healthcare administration degree and pursue management positions right out of graduation.
As you decide how to plan your healthcare administration career path, consider the following.
- Your own healthcare interests
- Your skills and strengths
- Your weaknesses
- Personality traits
- Your ultimate career goals
- Your idea workplace environment
Part Four Healthcare Administration Careers at Every Level
Wherever you are in your healthcare journey, there’s a healthcare career for you. From entry-level roles to get your foot in the door, to higher-level positions for those looking to make a career move, check out what your healthcare career options are.
- Entry-level healthcare administration careers
- Mid-level healthcare administration careers
- Manager-level healthcare administration careers
- Top-level healthcare administration careers
Degree Required: Associate Degree or Certificate
If you’re just starting out in healthcare, or looking to make a career change into the healthcare field, the following entry-level health administration careers would provide a great starting point to a career in healthcare administration.
Most of these careers only require an associate degree or training certificate and could be used as a building block to upward career mobility.
1. Medical Administrative Assistant
A medical administrative assistant, also commonly referred to as a medical secretary, performs secretarial duties for a medical office or healthcare facility, such as a doctor’s office, hospital, urgent care center or private practice.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), an administrative assistant or medical secretary can expect to make, on average $39,000 annually.
Outside of a high school diploma, there is no formal requirement to become a medical secretary or administrative assistant, but many earn a certificate.
2. Medical Assistant
Medical assistants perform basic healthcare-related tasks, such as bringing patients into a room to see a provider, taking vital signs, collecting lab specimens, and communicating with both providers and patients.
The BLS lists the average salary for medical assistants at $35,850 per year.
In order to become a medical assistant, you will need at least a high school diploma and to go through a certified medical assistant program.
3. Medical Billing & Coding
Medical billing and coding professionals translate healthcare provider’s diagnoses and treatments into standardized codes that get sent to insurance companies and government agencies.
Medical billers and coders are considered medical records and health information technicians and earn a median annual wage of $44,090 as of 2020 according to the BLS.
In order to become one, you’ll need to earn either a certificate, diploma or associate’s degree in medical billing and or coding.
4. Medical Records Technician/Health Information Technician
Health information technicians and medical records technicians are responsible for overseeing, managing, assessing, and evaluating the medical records of a medical practice or healthcare facility.
The BLS notes that the average salary for a person with the title of a medical record or health information technician is $44,090.
You can become a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) by taking an accredited program and certifying exam through the Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Association (AHIIMA).
5. Patient Services Representative
As a patient services representative, your role will be in working with patients who are receiving services at a healthcare facility, such as a hospital or surgical center.
The BLS lists the average salary for a customer service representative, a comparable position, as $35,830 per year.
You won’t need any official certification or program in order to become a patient service representative -- most of these positions are entry-level and require only a high school diploma with on-the-job training.
Degree Required: Bachelor's Degree
Mid-level healthcare administration careers typically require a bachelor's degree in healthcare administration, public health, business or management, or healthcare experience.
A mid-level healthcare administration career could serve as a stable career on its own, or provide a stepping stone for career advancement.
Here are the top 5 mid-level healthcare administration careers:
1. Private Practice Office Manager
A private practice office manager is in charge of managing the business and administrative side of a medical practice. The benefit of a role like this is, you could choose the type of work environment you’d like to be involved in, from a dermatology office to a women’s health office.
According to the BLS, medical and health services managers make an average salary over $104,000.
Although you may not formally be required to have an official degree for this role, a bachelor’s degree and experience in managing a medical practice is preferred.
2. Healthcare Consultant
Healthcare consultants are hired by medical and healthcare practices to evaluate and recommend practices and strategies to implement to increase efficiency and care.
According to PayScale, you can expect to earn, on average, over $78K in this role. However, earnings could be much higher depending on your experience.
3. Medical Reimbursement Specialist
Medical reimbursement specialists process the claims of a healthcare practice. People in this role must understand both the medical coding and medical billing aspects of a healthcare practice and communicate directly with office staff and other administrators to coordinate reimbursement.
Glassdoor lists the average salary for this role at just over $42,000.
4. Healthcare Human Resources Manager
As a healthcare human resources manager, you would be in charge of human services and resources at medical facilities.
This is a role with significant responsibility and would require high-level managerial skills as well as experience in HR.
The BLS reports the average salary for human resources managers is $121,220 per year.
5. Registered Nurse
Although earning your Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN) won’t automatically place you in a healthcare administrator role, it can be a smart career move to pivot into more senior-level healthcare managerial positions.
As a registered nurse (RN), you will gain valuable, hands-on knowledge of the healthcare industry along with important skills such as communication skills and critical-thinking. You also have the opportunity to choose flexible shifts that could allow you to pursue advanced degrees and take advantage of an employer’s possible tuition assistance.
To pursue a BSN if you’re already an RN, enroll directly into an RN-BSN program, or if you already have a Bachelor's degree in another field, you can earn an accelerated degree.
According to the BLS, full-time RNs make an average of $75,330 per year.
Degree Required: Bachelor's Degree + Experience or a Master's Degree
The manager level healthcare administration careers are what you most likely think of health services administration. These roles include positions such as a hospital administrator or nursing home director.
Some of the top manager-level healthcare careers include:
1. Nursing Home Administrator
Nursing home administrators hold senior-level positions, managing other people in leadership roles and working on the business administration side of nursing home facilities.
For instance, a nursing home administrator might be responsible for overseeing nurses and staff and ensuring state-level updates and laws are being followed.
According to Salary.com, a nurse home administrator makes an average of $117,000.
2. Health Services Manager or Administrator
Health services managers or administrators include nurse managers, who oversee a particular unit or floor of hospital.
Many RNs who have earned their masters in nursing move into a managerial role.
According to the BLS, medical and health service managers make an average of $121,220 per year.
3. Insurance Company Administrator or Director
You may not need direct healthcare experience to move into this role, but you will need both education and experience working for a health insurance company.
ZipRecruiter lists the average salary of an insurance medical director as over $123,000.
4. Hospital Administrator
Like a nurse manager, hospital administrators oversee a specific floor of a hospital and may include the role of Director of Patient Services.
This management role oversees everything from patient services to employee services to food and sanitation.
According to ZipRecruiter, this position makes an average of $92,000 per year.
5. Administrative Services Manager
A healthcare administrative services manager would be someone in a role responsible for managing other administrators within a healthcare facility and performing duties such as planning, directing, and coordinating activities to help the organization run efficiently.
The BLS lists the average annual salary for this role as just over $98,890.
Degree Required: Master’s + Experience, Doctorate
Rounding out our list of healthcare administration careers, we have the top-level roles that include positions that would be at the top of the leadership chain, such as a hospital CEO or a Healthcare Facilities Director.
Here are some of the roles you can find at the top level of the healthcare administration career list:
1. Hospital Director/CEO
A hospital director or CEO is the person in charge of running a hospital’s business and care operations. Oftentimes, a hospital director will have extensive experience and education in business, as running a hospital will require a business background.
These healthcare professionals coordinate the fiscal operations of the hospital as well as oversee community relations and coordination of administrative staffing and services.
According to the Economic Research Institute, a hospital director makes an average salary over $374,000 every year. However, upper level wages can easily reach over a million dollars for large hospital operations.
2. Hospital Executive
Hospital executives include Chief Financial Officers (CFO) to Food Services Directors. This role can vary quite widely within healthcare systems.
Choosing to become a hospital executive would mean being crystal-clear on what is available to you in your field. For instance, if you start with ancillary services and want to reach the top level in that field, you will want to gain the experience and education needed for that role. Conversely, a role in CFO may require financial experience and an accounting degree.
As an example of one type of salary in this role, ZipRecruiter reports an annual wage of over $138,000 for a hospital vice president.
3. Nursing Home Director
Similar to the role of a nursing home administrator, a nursing home director would be the top senior individual in charge of a nursing home or organization.
In an expanded role, a nursing home director can be expected to earn a higher salary and salaries of over $143,000 have been reported, according to Salary.com.
Many people in this role are physicians or hold doctoral degrees.
4. Clinical Manager
Clinical managers are often in senior-level administrative roles overseeing clinical staff. For instance, a Director of Nursing would be a type of clinical manager.
Clinical managers oversee other managers serving individual departments and be involved more closely with healthcare executives.
According to the BLS, medical and health services managers make an average of $104,280 per year.
5. Health Information Manager
A health information manager plays an important and very specialized role in the healthcare industry. They oversee other health informatics specialists who are responsible for working with medical records and data.
This role requires extensive experience as well as specialized training in health informatics.
According to the BLS, computer and information systems managers make an average of over $151,150 per year.
Part Five Next Steps in Your Healthcare Administration Career
It is important to remember that while a career in healthcare administration certainly will keep you involved in the healthcare industry, many of the skills and responsibilities needed for a successful career in health administration will differ from one in hands-on healthcare.
You can certainly work your way to transition into an administrative career from a hands-on healthcare provider role, but it may take adding advanced degrees and skills to your resume.
Many healthcare administration roles require skills in business, management, leadership, and communication that may require an advanced degree as well as extensive experience in the field.
Part Six Healthcare Administration Career FAQs
What kinds of jobs can you get with a healthcare administration degree?
- With a healthcare administration degree, you can work as a manager of a small medical office all the way up to running an entire hospital or series of hospitals.
What kinds of healthcare administration degrees are there?
- There are several levels and types of healthcare administration degrees. Program levels range from associate all the way to doctorate, including Master of Health Administration (MHA). Healthcare administration degree programs are sometimes called healthcare management and hospital administration.
What are the best healthcare administration jobs?
- Some of the highest-paying healthcare administration jobs include health information managers, nursing home managers, healthcare office administrations and hospital managers.
Is healthcare administration a good career choice?
- Healthcare administration is a good career choice. Not only does the field offer many different career options, but the Bureau of Labor Services (BLS) reports that the average annual salary for a Medical and Health Services Manager is over $100,000.
Are healthcare administrators in high demand?
- The BLS projects job growth of 32% between 2019 and 2029 for medical and health services managers. This job outlook is much higher than average.