What Does a Career in Healthcare Administration Entail?
Pursuing a career in healthcare administration can be very fulfilling and lucrative. Around 2,000 students graduate each year with a degree in healthcare management.
A healthcare administrator may work for a hospital, nursing home, physician’s group practice, a home health agency, or another health organization. This job entails many important duties not only to benefit the facility but to help the community as well. With this position comes strong responsibility as these roles deal with private electronic records management, hospital budgeting, computer security, new technology, and the healthcare industry’s compliance laws, and replacing older biotechnologies while ensuring there is an adequate amount of income to cover the costs of improvements required to innovate.Read More
It is the healthcare administrator’s job to ensure the hospital runs smoothly by tracking trends and applying changes that will help improve patient care and the organization’s efficiency. They also oversee all of the hospitals' staff, including the doctors and nurses.
The hospital administrator works closely with billing and coding professionals, medical records, and insurance companies to safeguard the proper use of plan benefits, large physician organizations, medical groups, and healthcare practices.
Healthcare Degree & Career Paths
Components of a Successful Career in Healthcare Administration
The need for healthcare administrators is increasing and, due to new technology, the role of these professionals has changed substantially, giving them more duties to perform. That said, there are numerous components involved with being successful. The American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), claims there are four main qualities that a healthcare administrator must possess in order to be successful:
Excellent Communication skills
Excellent oral and written communication skills are both vital to a healthcare administrator, as they should be able to communicate effectively with their subordinates, colleagues, and superiors to develop and present proposals and reports.
General Management Skills
Another key factor is strong managerial and leadership skills, as they could be supervising large staffs that include doctors, nurses, administration and human resources staff, and many more professionals.
Adaptability, Flexibility, and a Good Organizational Fit
Employers look for candidates that are a good fit for the establishment who adapt well to the surroundings, vision, and goals of their organization. Displaying competence, confidence, and aptitude will make you the perfect candidate for a healthcare administrator.
Strong Character, Good Professional Judgment, and Dependability
Not only are managers required to have good judgment and moral values to make critical and ethical decisions, but they must also be willing to take full responsibility for their actions whether they succeed or fail.
How to Earn a Degree in Healthcare Administration
What can you do with a Healthcare Administration Degree?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the healthcare administration field is expected to grow at a rapid pace in the future and has already grown 23% in recent years. Additionally, from 2012 through 2022, the U.S. economy job growth is expected to rise by 15.6 million and will reach 161 million during this period representing an employment increase of 10.8%. The industries expected to grow the fastest are construction, healthcare support, healthcare, and personal care fields. Combined, these four occupations are projected to account for more than 5.3 million or one-third of all the new jobs during this time. In the past, healthcare administrators were mainly used in hospitals or large healthcare organizations, but their use today has expanded to improve patient care and increase efficiency, not only in large facilities, but in smaller businesses as well such as chiropractic, dental, and doctors’ offices.
Some of the occupations in Healthcare Administration include:
- Hospital CEO
- Medical Office Business Manager
- Hospital Department Manager
- Government Policy Maker
- Human Relations Personnel
- Manager of a healthcare staffing agency
- Hospital CFO (chief financial officer)
- Clinic Administrator
- Facility Operations Specialist
- Dental Office Administrator
- Insurance Company Analyst
- Lab/Testing Facility Manager
- Government Lobbyist
- Insurance Contract Negotiator
- Nursing Home Administrator
- Facility Project Manager
- Chiropractic Office Manager
Typical Healthcare Administration Degree Requirements
Previously, most students would go the traditional route and choose to earn a master’s degree in public health or health administration. Now, there are other options, like graduate degrees in public administration or business with a concentration in health-related service management. Another option that students have today is the opportunity to select a joint-degree, which is a master’s degree in both law and healthcare management or public health and business administration. Typically, graduate programs to earn a master’s degree take two years to complete and include courses in organizational behavior, healthcare law and policy, human resources, marketing, financing, and more.
Although most people who obtain a healthcare administration degree work in the healthcare industry, they also can choose to work with other organizations such as schools and universities, government offices, insurance companies, mental health facilities, private medical facilities, nursing homes, and others.
If you decide to earn a bachelor’s in healthcare administration, you can work your way up to a higher position, but it won’t be easy if you are competing with other professionals who have master’s degrees. You may have to opt for a lower paying position and be promoted up from within the company or hired elsewhere after getting some experience under your belt.
Typical Healthcare Administration Certifications Needed
Whether or not you need to obtain a license depends on the career you have chosen. Even if it is not required, certifications will enhance your qualifications. Those who want to continue their education and/or advance their career, can take advantage of certificate programs. Certification programs offer graduate and undergraduate levels in various areas of study. They are available to take on campus’ or online.
Undergraduate Certification Programs in Healthcare Management
Colleges, career schools, and universities offer undergraduate certificate programs for students who did not complete an undergraduate degree. Although the requirements vary between schools and programs to qualify, some may include English language skills, math skills, and basic technology proficiency; however, you must have a high school diploma or GED to take advantage of any certificate program.
Graduate Certification Programs in Healthcare Management
Graduate certificate programs define a specific field of study and offer academic and professional areas of study for students at a graduate level who already obtained an undergraduate or graduate degree. These programs are usually shorter than general graduate degree programs.
Some certification programs available in healthcare management are:
- Health Administration Certificate
- Healthcare Management Certificate
- Health and Wellness Administration Certificate
- Medical Office Administration Certificate
Academic Standards for a Healthcare Administration Degree
Getting into some colleges and Universities can be challenging, which is why many students prefer to apply to numerous schools and will usually qualify for more than one. Then they can decide between the schools that accepted them. It is recommended that students should apply to four to eight different institutions. Experts say that students should apply as early as their junior year of high school and to start you off in the right direction you should first create a to-do list since there is a lot involved in applying to colleges such as obtaining recommendation letters, writing essays, and other prep work.
The majority of colleges and universities require that applicants submit ACT or SAT subject test scores in order to be considered. The scores will most likely be sent by the company that tested you. In addition, colleges will look into your GPA as well. Although the required scores vary between institutions, most require between 2.5 and 3.0 GPA.
Exam/Experience Needed for a Healthcare Administration Degree
After applying for your healthcare administrator’s license, the governing body of your state will evaluate your application and determine if you qualify. If you are approved, you will have to take the state licensing exam and pass it in order to be certified in healthcare administration. The majority of states will have you take the “Nursing Home Administrator Licensure” exam and may require an examination fee and a licensing fee if you pass.
Important Questions to Ask
How long does it take to earn a Healthcare Administration bachelor’s degree online?
Many aspects contribute to the bachelor’s degree program’s duration. These include: the major you choose, the courses you take, concentrations, your grades, and the effort you put in. It takes 52 months to complete the online bachelor’s degree program and requires 120-course hours, just like on campus. Most full-time students can complete the bachelor’s in the healthcare administration program in 4 years. However, students who enroll in an accelerated program could earn their bachelor’s degree in as little as three years and those who attend college part-time could take up to seven years to graduate. Those who opted to take specialization courses will take longer to complete the program. Also, degrees in healthcare administration will usually accept experience from an internship for course credit.
How much does a Healthcare Administration bachelor’s degree cost?
The cost of a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration varies greatly between schools. Students in-state usually pay $9,139 on average per year at public colleges, while students from out-of-state pay almost $23,000, and those who attend a private institution are likely to pay even more for a bachelor’s degree.
Healthcare Administration Bachelor's Degree Coursework
Common courses to earn a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration may include the following:
- Financial Accounting and Finance
- Healthcare Human Resource Management
- Healthcare Economics
- Medical Terminology
- Healthcare Strategic Management
- Healthcare History
- Health and Disease
- Healthcare Quality Management
- Healthcare Information Management
- Leadership Communication
- Healthcare Law and Ethics
Does the school have the major(s) you’re considering?
One thing that every college should have is a career assistance program to help students decide what kind of career they would like to pursue and which major to select. If you already know what you would like to major in, it still may be a good idea to wait to choose it, until after you have had a chance to take a couple courses and are certain of your decision.
Also, every college does not have every degree or major. You want to make sure that you choose a college which has the major you are looking for. You might even want to check to see if they have something you would consider as a backup, in case you realize that you don’t like the original major you chose after all. You never know what you might decide to do two years from now. And if you’re thinking about earning your degree online, make sure the courses you need are available in that format. Schools often provide fewer classes online than they do on campus.
How many students graduate “on time,” in four years?
A little more than half of students who attend a college full-time earn their bachelor’s degree within six years. Some educators claim this is because students change their minds and their courses, take time off, or even drop out of school. Studies show that those students, who attend college for a while and then drop out, are worse off than someone who never attended college at all since they are still responsible for paying back their student debt.
If you really want to earn your degree on time, plan your educational path and follow through without straying off course.
What kind of accreditation does the program hold? How is it regarded in the field?
One thing you don’t want to do is waste money and precious time on a degree program that won’t be worth much since employers won’t take it seriously. Therefore, it is imperative that you check the college for accreditation. When a college is accredited, it means the school’s training, programs, teachers, staff, and the school itself have been evaluated by an outside association and approved. Employers will not only want to know if the school you earned your degree from was accredited but also who it was accredited by. Generally, the best accreditation is done by a regional accreditor recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. The following are of the regional organizations that accredit U.S schools and programs:
- New England Association of Colleges & Schools
- The Higher Learning Commission
- Northwest Commission of Colleges and Universities
- Western Association of Colleges and Schools
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education
In healthcare administration, there are many various areas of specialization as well as a wide array of professional opportunities. Because of the differences in programs and specialties, there must be different accrediting agencies for the range of healthcare programs involved. These agencies include: The Association of University Programs in Healthcare Administration (AUPHA) and The Commission on Accreditation of Health Management Education (CAHME).
Healthcare administrators should have at least a bachelor’s degree. However, top advanced positions will require you to obtain a graduate degree, which will take two or three more years and it may also be necessary to fulfill a one-year internship.
In addition to the degree you earn, there are also some key skills for healthcare administrators to possess. A study was done that found the following four skills to be necessary for every healthcare administrator:
Interpersonal skills are effective, emotional skills that allow a person to work well with others. There are three categories of this type of skill: help & delegating, relationship, and leadership.
Information management involves perceptual skills that tell our brains how to collect, access, interpret, and organize information. This skill is organized into three categories: creativity management/change, information gathering, and information analysis.
Analytical skills are what enable the brain to process and integrate new knowledge and information. There are also three categories involved with this type of skill: planning, quantitative data analysis, and technology management.
Action skills are oriented on behavior, planning, implementing, and directing actions. This skill is also divided into three category types: goal setting, action taking, and entrepreneurial skills.
There is nothing better than furthering your education. When it comes to degrees, each one can be traded in for a higher-level degree of greater knowledge. You start by obtaining an associate’s degree (2 years), which you can either trade up or skip and move on to a bachelor’s degree (4 years), then you can work toward a master’s degree (2 years). As you move up to higher degree levels you will also gain more respect with each level, be able to get a better job, and of course, earn more income. Remember though, that each level has a higher price tag as well. The great thing about getting a higher level of education in today's world is that you can work a full or part-time job while still attending school part-time, online where you can decide where and when you want to study.
|Associates Degrees Range||26,000 - 33,000|
|Bachelors Degrees Range||50,000 – 85,000|
|Masters Degrees Range||30,000 - 1,200,000|
Associates Degree in Healthcare Administration
Generally, you can obtain your healthcare administration associate degree in 2 years as most programs require 60 credits. With your associate degree, you will have an entry-level education with skills and knowledge that include business operations, ethical parameters of healthcare, computer skills, legal principles, human pathology, and health statistics. With these skills, doors open to multiple hospitals, nursing homes, and mental health facilities. Moreover, you can decide to continue your education and work toward a leadership role and pursue a bachelor’s degree.
Cost Range An associate’s degree in healthcare administration will cost $26,000 to $33,000.
- Medical Office Operations
- Healthcare Services Terminology
- Introduction to Business
- Introduction to Anatomy
- Medical Coding
- Business Communications
- Medical Terminology
- Office Software Applications
- Medical Law and Ethics
- Healthcare Management
Bachelor’s Degree in Healthcare Administration
It will generally take 4 years to earn a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration. This degree is usually designed for those who wish to work on the business end in the healthcare industry at hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, medical manufacturers, and non-profit organizations in a mid-level, leadership operations position. Students will be introduced to key elements in healthcare management, such as marketing, organizational theory, quality assurance, accounting, emergency management, human resources, ethics, and long-term planning.
A bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration will cost $50,000 to $85,000.
- Special Populations
- Information and Management Systems
- Human Resource Management
- Healthcare Economics
- Advanced Health Systems
- Healthcare Ethics
- Information Systems and Record Keeping
- Healthcare Management
- Medical and Employment Laws
- Legal Issues in Healthcare
- Medical Accounting
- Healthcare and Marketing Trends
- Communications and Healthcare Marketing
- Healthcare Administration Internship
Healthcare Informatics, Healthcare Management, Patient Safety and Quality, Healthcare Financial Management, Healthcare Laws and Policy, Information Technology Management, Information Technology Operations, Operations Management and Supervision, Organizational Leadership, and Project Management.
Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration
Generally, full-time students can earn a healthcare administration master's degree in 2 years. However, there are accelerated programs that can take less time than that. Studies will focus on executive-level management combined with courses that involve your chosen specialty in health information technology, organization management, human resources, or finance. With a master’s degree in healthcare administration, you will be prepared to work in a medical division, large hospitals, or at HMO’s and medical clinics.
A master’s degree in healthcare administration will cost $30,000 to $120,000.
- Health Information Systems
- Foundations in Gerontology
- Policy Analysis
- Health Management
- Economics for Public Managers
- Creating Organizational Change
- Health Law
- Directed Study in Management
Healthcare Law and Policy, Business Administration, Social and Professional Media, Education, Operations, Healthcare Management, Public Health Administration, Healthcare Financial Management, Technology Management, Health Policy, Healthcare Informatics, Information Systems and Gerontology, and Patient Safety and Quality.
Healthcare Administration Fields of Study
- Healthcare Education professionals are those who focused on teaching and education in their studies. They may go on to become professors in colleges or high school teachers. They may also become health advocates, working for a city or state to promote healthy living among its residents. They could have a say in wider health related policies and change the world for the better.
- Hospital administrators are responsible for maintaining budgets and best practices in small to large facilities. They may run the entire hospital, with 100+ staff members under them, or they may only run one department or a smaller clinic-style facility, with fewer staffing concerns and more issues with maintenance and conserving space for higher-risk patients.
- Sports Healthcare Administrators will find themselves working in a sports environment. They may be in charge of the health services for a professional sports team, making sure each player gets the care they need, or they may be in charge of a nursing staff for an entire college sports program. Either way, the health of the players and happiness of the staff are their main responsibilities.
Field of Study with Entry Level, Median Annual Salary, and Mid-Career Median
|Field of Study||Entry-Level||Mid-Career||Late-Career|
|Sports healthcare administration||$69,034||$76,466||$99,543|
Healthcare Administration Occupations
- Hospital CEOs are responsible for more than just staff and budgets. They have to make decisions about fundraising and building projects, marketing and adoption of new technologies. It falls to them to deal with the board and make sure that staff are acting within ethical and safety guidelines. They have to be passionate about helping people, while also understanding how a hospital functions as a business.
- Health Insurance Specialists might review insurance payment requests and make decisions on either payment or fraud reporting. Or they might run the department that does that type of work. On the back-end of the insurance business, health insurance specialists may have a hand in the algorithms created to decide who the insurance firm will choose to cover. They’ll help tweak the system so that the company can cover as many people as possible, while still making a profit.
Salary by Occupation with Entry Level Median Annual Salary, Mid-Career Median Annual Salary, Late-Career Median Annual Salary
|Community Support Manager||$46,105||$51,253||$71,180|
|Training and Development Manager||$61,839||$74,009||$84,957|
|Health Insurance Specialist||$56,298||$61,144||$78,593|
|Human Resource Manager||$56,303||$64,943||$72,535|
Healthcare Administration Scholarships
Two Ten Higher Education Scholarship
Amount: $12,000 ($3,000 yearly)
Deadline: April 19
Students who are either employed in the footwear industry, or whose parents are employed in the industry (for 2+ years), are eligible to apply for this scholarship which provides up to $3,000 annually.
Harry S. Truman Scholarship
Amount: $30,000 (Split between +-60 awards)
Deadline: February 7
This scholarship, created as a memorial for President Truman after his death, is awarded to students who plan to pursue a career in public service. You must be a college junior to apply and you must have a strong record of public service to win. There are around 60 awards given every year.
Albert W. Dent Graduate Scholarship
Amount: $5,000 (10 awards)
Deadline: March 31
This award is reserved for minority students in their final year, earning a healthcare management or administration degree. You must be a legal resident of the US or Canada and preference is given to applicants who are student associates of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE).
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Undergraduate Scholarship Program
Deadline: March 14
The NIH provides this scholarship to students who are committed to obtaining a degree and following a career in bio-medical, behavioral, or social-science related health research. You must be a US citizen, enrolled as a full-time student, show “exceptional financial need”, and hold a GPA of 3.5 or higher to be eligible.
Professional Healthcare Administration Organizations
Healthcare Financial Management Association
This association offers its members access to research publications and reports as well as articles on complex legislative subjects. Furthermore, they hold conferences, seminars, and other networking opportunities allowing members to learn and meet others in their professional community. They offer more learning opportunities for members by way of educational programs and specialized certifications.
American Association of Healthcare Consultants
This association aims to raise and maintain the competence of its members, maintain ethical standards of performance, and inform the policies and standards of the healthcare industry as a whole. Members can attend international and national conferences and enjoy having a network of professionals within the organization.
American Association of Physician Leadership
This association strives to provide physicians with a community of their peers and educational opportunities to develop leadership skills and advance their careers. Membership provides a discount on courses and a subscription to their Physician Leadership Journal. They also receive discounts on books, publications, and career services and the opportunity to access a mentoring program and a network of other physicians.
Choosing an Accredited College
Deciding on a college to attend may be exciting, but it is a tough choice that shouldn’t be taken too lightly. Although, all colleges may be similar in the way they look and teach, what separates them is who their accreditor is. In fact, whether a school is of high quality or not is determined by its accreditation.
There are some schools out there known as diploma mills; organizations that provide illegitimate diplomas and academic degrees for a fee while claiming they offer high-quality education. If you earn your degree from a college with an unrecognized accrediting agency, it could cost you a lot, including your career. Therefore, you should always check the accreditor of any college you are considering.
One of the good things about community colleges is that they are all accredited by recognized accrediting agencies. Therefore, your credits can be transferred if you choose to attend one of these institutions and you may apply for financial aid.
Online vs. On-Campus vs. Hybrid
Along with all the other college choices students must make, you must also choose whether to attend school on-campus, online, or both (hybrid). Students who also work, usually choose to attend college online, or with a hybrid program, however, full-time students generally choose to attend college on campus.
Does the College Have Post-Graduate Job Placement Help & Assistance?
There may be a big difference in colleges’ assistance and job placement programs. Some may offer you help with everything that has to do with entering the workforce and others may not help much at all. Some of the things college assistance programs may assist students with are:
- Deciding what to major in
- Determining coursework
- Choosing whether to attend college online, on campus, or hybrid
- Preparing for an interview
- Creating a resume or portfolio
- Finding an entry-level position all ready for you to start upon earning your degree
Why You Need to Consider How Rating/Accreditation Can Affect Your Salary
Once you receive your degree, you are ready and qualified for an entry-level position. However, the truth is, whether you are hired for certain jobs may depend on the rating and/or accreditation of the school where you earned your degree. Some of the more prestigious employers, will not only check your credentials, but also the credentials of the school you earned your degree from, as well as the accrediting agency of the school that you earned your degree from. If you did not graduate from a school with appropriate accreditation, you may not be able to find a good-paying position, or any position.