GUIDE
December 1, 2021
Business woman at table with various healthcare professionals
Kathleen Gaines
By: Kathleen Gaines MSN, RN, BA, CBC

Updated 6/25/2021

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 2020 to 2030, 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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