A career in healthcare administration can begin in a number of ways. Some people choose an online or traditional degree in business with a concentration in healthcare administration or a medical-related degree with practical, operational, or managerial experience. Students can also earn a bachelor's in healthcare management or individuals might start as registered nurses, IT support for a doctor’s office, a pharmacy assistant, or many other options within the healthcare system.
Once the career pathway has been established, most people will work their way up to work as consultants, project managers, healthcare administration, financial management, and executive positions. While working toward promotion and career advancements, it’s essential to continue one’s education to be able to secure health administration positions. It may not be required for healthcare administration positions in smaller markets or for smaller employers; however, a master’s degree is typically required for such positions in healthcare at major practices, hospitals, and other large or prestigious employers or to work as health services managers in various healthcare settings. Luckily, these degrees are also availabel through online learning platforms.
Components of A Successful Career In Healthcare Management
To establish successful careers as health services managers, it is essential to develop and foster a variety of soft and hard skills. The development of these skills will help professionals to become better leaders, improve job capabilities, help you deal with legal and ethical issues, lead to higher salaries, and simply make healthcare administration jobs easier.
It’s best to start by working on communication skills. Like most managerial positions, communication is essential to the success of daily operations, as well as to relay the proper information to the right people at all levels throughout the organization. Individuals in these positions are responsible for implementing and following through with regulations, policies, and procedures. As such, it’s critical that communicating these practices to the team, vendors, and others is done so with clarity and precision. And the healthcare industry is often a delicate business; it is important to be mindful of the way one uses tone and language.Read More
Technology skills will be another essential for all individuals in healthcare administration. Individuals may not be required to repair or code machines and devices; however, it will be necessary that health services managers have a solid enough understanding of various software and applications to be able to train others when necessary. The same is true of machines and devices in the work environment. Health services managers may have to work with vendors, suppliers, and repair companies to ensure all technology is working perfectly. And healthcare managers now have a responsibility to follow and implement cyber security practices, as well as to ensure the entire team is following practices correctly.
While communication and technology are two of the most important skills to acquire, these professionals should also focus on the development of additional skills including teamwork, planning, mentoring, problem-solving, data analysis, patient care, quality assurance and control, and budgeting.
How to Earn a Degree in Healthcare Management
A healthcare management degree can lead to any number of positions at all levels over time and within nearly any healthcare work environment. The type of position available for people with degrees in healthcare management will vary greatly by employer and by degree level. Individuals who graduate with an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree in healthcare management often secure entry-level positions within an office or operational setting rather than working in a position that requires them to engage in hands-on tasks with patients. Without a master’s degree in healthcare management, people will have to complete more years of experience prior to securing healthcare management positions.
Those who complete an online or in-person master’s degree in healthcare management and have at least a few years of experience will likely qualify for managerial positions straight away in any organization. Such positions might include:
- Physician Practice Manager
- Healthcare Administrator
- Quality and Improvement Manager
- Patient Finance Manager
- Health Insurance Manager
- Managed Care Representative
- Healthcare Department Manager
- Population Health Manager
Jobs with a healthcare management degree are available in nearly any health-related business. It’s possible to find positions at both inpatient and outpatient facilities such as hospitals, doctor offices, physical therapy centers, assisted-living facilities, and many others. You may also find healthcare manager positions with non-profits, insurance companies, government agencies, and more. And the type of degree you earned (online or traditional) is less important than the fact that you have earned one.
Typical Healthcare Management Certification Needs
For most healthcare management positions, certifications will not be required. However, it will improve one’s employment options, pay, and long-term career aspirations to complete various certifications throughout said career. Different certifications are available based on the highest degree of completion, both online and in classrooms. The majority of healthcare management certifications are graduate level and require that individuals have completed a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree to qualify for admittance.
Keep in mind that individuals who work in assisted-living or nursing homes often require specific state licensure regardless of the position. This includes healthcare management positions. And everyone in all positions must complete in-depth background and criminal checks due to the highly sensitive nature of the healthcare industry.
Undergraduate and post-baccalaureate certifications in healthcare management are somewhat limited; however, some do exist. They are typically available for individuals who have completed an associate degree or a few years of a bachelor’s degree. These certificates often help individuals who have not yet completed a bachelor’s degree to improve upon a skillset which may lead to promotions and pay increases. These certificates are highly limited in their offerings and subject matter, including certificates in:
- Healthcare Administration
- Health Management and Policy
- Healthcare Leadership and Innovation Certificate
Graduate certificates in healthcare management are far more frequent and diverse in their subject offerings and availability through online or campus courses. These certificates allow for greater specialization in various healthcare niches. Certificates are available in strategy, policy, leadership, and technology. You could pursue a variety of graduate certificates over the course of your career in order to secure more promotions and higher salaries. The following are some examples of graduate certificates in healthcare management:
- Healthcare Corporate Compliance Graduate Certificate
- Graduate Certificate in Health Systems Leadership and Management
- Strategic Healthcare Leadership Certificate
- Graduate Certificate in Health Services Administration
- Post-Master’s Certificate in Health Care Administration
- Executive Certificate in Health Administration
- Graduate Certificate in Health Care Quality and Safety
Academic Standards for a Healthcare Management Degree
It’s important to understand that most highly reputable, regionally accredited health management degrees are typically only available at the master’s degree and graduate certificate level. You can find an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree in healthcare management; however, they are mostly available through newer online colleges and universities that might be nationally accredited rather than regionally accredited.
Traditional higher learning institutions typically only offer healthcare management certificates and higher-level degrees. These traditional colleges and universities also offer online programs in healthcare management. A common healthcare management degree pathway these days is for students to start with a bachelor’s degree in business or nursing and then complete a specialized healthcare management certificate or graduate degree.
For acceptance into certificate and master’s degree programs, it’s necessary to have somewhere between a 2.75 and 3.5 GPA. The minimum GPA acceptance depends greatly on the university and the program you are looking to join. The more reputable the program, the more challenging the prerequisites for acceptance. If you’re seeking an associate or bachelor’s degree, you may have to reach a certain standard of ACT or SAT scores. This will be determined by the college or university, and the score will vary by higher learning institution. However, prospective online students should note that online education requires the same high standards as traditional education programs.
Exam & Experience Needed for Healthcare Management
For an undergraduate healthcare management degree, you will likely have to complete the ACT or SAT and meet a minimum score threshold that is determined by the college or university. To complete an undergraduate certificate, you may require some course completion or several years of relevant experience.
Some graduate healthcare management programs will require the completion of a GRE, whereas, others may not. This, too, is dependent on the school and program. In some instances, if one’s GPA is not high enough, they may accept a solid GRE score instead. It’s also possible that internships and work experience will help students receive acceptance into various programs.
Healthcare Management Degree Options
You can complete degrees at all levels that will lead to healthcare management positions. The associate and bachelor’s degrees in healthcare management are less prevalent than a master’s degree, PhD, or graduate certificates in healthcare management. For the best possible future career, be sure to select degrees from regionally accredited colleges or universities and healthcare management programs.
Associate Degree in Healthcare Management
Associate Degrees Cost Range $26,000 - $33,000
Associate degrees in healthcare management are only available at a few colleges and universities. Most people choose degrees in business or other healthcare-related fields that will help them land entry-level positions. It’s typically necessary to complete a bachelor’s degree and have at least a few years of work experience within the healthcare industry before securing a healthcare management position. However, some people may be able to find healthcare management positions with an associate degree in smaller markets or for smaller employers.
The following is a list of potential courses in an associate degree program in healthcare management:
- Ethics in Medicine
- Healthcare Law
- HIPPA Compliance
- Administration Support
- Medical Terminology
- Reimbursement Methodologies
- Diagnostic Coding
These degrees often allow for students to participate in a variety of certifications, including the credential exam for Certified Coding Associates or Certified Coding Specialists and the Certified Professional Coder examination.
Bachelor’s Degree in Healthcare Management
Bachelors Degree Cost Range $50,000 – $85,000 or higher
A bachelor’s degree is the most common minimum degree required for most healthcare management positions. Some people choose to become full-time students to complete degrees faster while others choose to work while they take courses to reduce the number of student loans necessary to complete a degree. A growing trend for online bachelor’s degrees in healthcare management allows students to complete as many courses in each term as they like without adding any additional expense. This helps students to save time and money.
- Human Resource Management
- Business Law and Ethics
- Healthcare Data
- Healthcare Management
- Quantitative Analysis for Business
Master’s Degree in Healthcare Management
Master’s Degrees Cost Range $30,000 - $120,000
Healthcare management master’s degrees are necessary for the best jobs in healthcare management, as well as to improve annual salaries. A master’s degree in healthcare management is also essential to receive promotions to executive healthcare management and administration positions. The following are some examples of courses available:
- Marketing and Communication
- Healthcare Management
Each year, the concentrations and specializations available in healthcare management continue to grow. These are some examples:
- MBA in Healthcare Management
- Hospital Healthcare Management
- Health Systems Management
- Non-Government Agencies
- Government Agencies
- Physician Practices
What Can You Do with a Healthcare Management Degree?
The careers available to those with a healthcare management degree are extensive. Most positions will require at least a bachelor’s degree including a physician practice manager, managed care representative, quality and improvement manager, population health manager, healthcare department manager, health insurance manager, healthcare administrator, and more. At the end of the day, the higher degree you complete, the higher the position for which you can qualify.
You could also acquire an entry-level position with an associate degree or certification in healthcare management; some entry-level positions are administrative coordinator, patient service representative, clinic office manager, or administrative support specialist. The types of environments in which healthcare management positions are available vary greatly. Professionals might work in a hospital, nursing home, assisted living, doctor’s office, research facilities, rehabilitation center, government agencies, non-profits, and many others.
Healthcare Management Fields of Study
- Community Public Health
A concentration in community public health will provide graduates with the opportunity to work with public health policy influencers to make a difference in overall general healthcare practices. They will also possess the ability to educate the public regarding new and aspiring policies regarding a wide array of subjects, including community health, nutrition, and consumer health.
- Health Education
Another concentration growing in popularity is that of health education. This type of specialization provides students with a solid education in health so that they might work in a variety of health-related fields such as medical imaging, radiation therapy, nutrition and dietetics, community health, and health promotion and wellness management.
- Health Information Systems and Technology Management
Health information systems and technology management concentrations center around technology in healthcare positions. These jobs are becoming increasingly in-demand with the growing threats of cyber-crimes and the incorporation of technology into everyday healthcare practices. These degree specialties have a variety of options such as technology in equipment, record systems management, data processing, cyber security, infrastructure, data management, and more.
- Long-Term Care
As the population continues to age, the demand for long-term care professionals is also on the rise. Graduates will enter the workforce with the skills to work on a number of issues within nursing homes and residential communities including aging, disability, and ongoing problems within the long-term care industry. This concentration also prepares students to take the nursing home and long-term care licensure exams.
- Leadership and Management
Many individuals who may already possess a degree in another field or those who aim to become managers and administrators will pursue this concentration of leadership and management in healthcare. These degrees and certificates focus on both application and theory.
- Medical Practice Management
A medical practice management concentration is designed specifically for a career in a clinical practice environment as a manager or an administrator. This is also a steppingstone to being able to complete the American College of Medical Practice Executives certification. Students will learn about operations management, quality control, human resource management, and more.
Healthcare Management Careers and Salary
Healthcare management careers and salaries will vary greatly based on the management position, location of the position, type of degree, the size of the employer, the amount of competition, continuing education, and much more. Another important aspect of securing a healthcare management position is experience. You’ll need to have at least a few years of experience working in a healthcare setting prior to becoming eligible to apply for management positions in healthcare. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the average annual salary for healthcare managers is $100,980 (BLS), but varies based on the industry.
One of the best ways to enter into healthcare management is to secure a support position to a reputable healthcare manager or administrator. This will help lead to positions with more responsibility and better pay. Over time, you’ll be in a position to apply for roles at larger employers and even executive positions if you choose to. The salaries for healthcare management positions have an expansive range, from $70,000 to nearly $400,000. Again, numerous variables exist that influence the salary offered for each position.
Healthcare Management Career Options
- Hospital Administrator
An effective and successful hospital administrator is essential to the well-being of a hospital and the patients who spend time in such facilities. These leaders will hire the best surgeons and doctors possible, as well as establish budgets, endorse new treatments, and incorporate all regulations and laws as they arise and change.
- Pharmaceutical Project Manager
Pharmaceutical project managers work with a team of individuals to determine the best ways to promote pharmaceutical products. These project managers will also conduct in-depth investment opportunity analyses, and ensure projects stay within budget, people complete tasks, and they finish projects in a timely manner.
- Healthcare Consultant
A healthcare consultant works with a wide variety of healthcare businesses. These consultants help to solve issues, challenges, and problems within the organization. It will be essential to possess high-level research and analysis skills to be able to ascertain the optimal recommendations.
- Health Information Manager
Health information managers often work in a private practice medical clinic, hospital, or similar healthcare organization. These professionals ensure that data moves between departments in an efficient and effective manner. They might also be required to manage the software and hardware of the entire organization, as well as to implement government regulation policies.
- Hospital CEO and CFO
The best healthcare managers and administrators will rise to the positions of hospital CEO or CFO. At this level, CEOs must manage the entire hospital including contract negotiation, budget preparation, new hire approval, sales report analysis, and much more. CFOs are responsible for keeping records, budget planning, financial risk assessing, and more for the entire organization.
- Practice Manager
A practice manager works within a private practice or medical office. These positions typically require a master’s degree or MBA. The responsibilities and roles are similar to those of a hospital administrator including financial budgeting, operational analyzing, record managing, and much more.
Important Questions to Ask (FAQ)
How long does It take to earn a healthcare management degree online?
An online bachelor’s degree in healthcare management is designed to take four years for full-time students, which is the same for in-person degrees. However, it is important to note that many people choose to work while they complete degrees, and if you do, a bachelor’s degree could take closer to six years.
Individuals in pursuit of an online master’s degree in healthcare management can expect the time frame for degree completion to be anywhere between one year to four years. Again, the time it takes to complete will depend upon the number of courses you can take at the same time. You may also be able to take both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree simultaneously at some colleges and universities to reduce the time and money required to complete both degrees.
How much does a healthcare management bachelor’s degree cost?
The price tag of a healthcare management bachelor’s degree will vary greatly depending on the college or university. A small, state school could cost as little as $8,000 a year. A prestigious, private university could cost over $80,000 annually. The average in-state bachelor’s degree is nearly $9,000, whereas the average cost of an out-of-state bachelor’s degree is over $22,000. And a private education will cost an average of roughly $30,000.
Healthcare Management Bachelor’s Degree Coursework
The courses available in a bachelor’s degree in healthcare management will often be somewhat similar. However, each program will provide some varying options. Some example courses include:
- Business Law
- Data Analysis
- Healthcare Finance and Accounting
- Medical Terminology
- Human Resource Management
- Healthcare Management
Does the school have the major[s] you’re considering?
The healthcare industry has dozens of specializations and different types of employers. To select the right degree pathway, it’s important to consider the type of work environment and specialized area in which one might like to work in the future.
Some people want to work in hospitals or medical practices, and other people wish to work with the elderly or children. Make sure the college or university you’re considering offers the right majors and concentrations to reach your long-term goals. You may also choose to further specialize in a master’s degree program.
How many students graduate “on time”, in four years?
Today, a bachelor’s degree can take up to six years to complete. This is, in part, due to the rise of online degrees increasing the number of people that work while they complete their degrees. The national average to complete a bachelor’s degree on-time within four years is only 40% and only 60% complete a degree within 6 years.
Colleges and universities are aware of this trend; therefore, they are working to provide career and degree planning to help lower the time and costs of completing degrees.
What kind of accreditation does the program hold? How is it regarded in the field?
It is important that the college or university you select is regionally accredited to secure better employment opportunities. However, program accreditation is also important. A few of the most prestigious program accreditation agencies for healthcare management degrees include:
- CAHME Commission of Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education
- The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH)
- The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
Software, Technology & Skills Needed
Technology-related skills are critical for healthcare managers. It’s important to have a reasonable understanding of various software applications and the devices that utilize software programs. Many healthcare managers will be responsible for training new hires in the software and hardware utilized by their employer.
Healthcare managers will also need to be able to use the electronic health record system, as well as billing and coding systems, accounting and inventory systems, information data systems, CRP software, and much more. It’s essential to understand and implement all company-wide technology policies regarding daily use and cyber security practices.
The Florence Gaynor Award is provided by the National Association of Health Services Executives. A $5,000 award is dedicated to women graduate students pursuing healthcare management degrees.
The Foundation of the American College of Healthcare Executives offers a $5,000 Albert W. Dent Graduate Student Scholarship for 15 minority students each year. To qualify, students must be enrolled in a healthcare management graduate degree program.
The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation offers a Truman Scholarship of up to $30,000 for college juniors who wish to work in public service, which includes healthcare management. Recipients often go on to work in highly prestigious government positions. Community service, activism, and leadership are considered more important than grades for this scholarship.
The David A. Winston Health Policy Scholarship awards $10,000 to ten students who participate in AUPHA graduate programs. Students must complete at least five courses to qualify. Award winners will be chosen based on proven dedication to community initiatives, health policies, academics, and leadership roles.
Around 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students receive a Gates Millennium Scholarship each year. The scholarships are only provided to minority students pursuing specific fields, including public health. Each scholarship amount is based on financial need.
American Health Information Management Association
The American Health Information Management Association centers around health information management education. Professionals have access to journals, conferences, and credentialing.
American Association of Medical Assistants
The American Association of Medical Assistants offers certification and continuing education to all members. They’ll also help you learn about the latest in healthcare law at both the federal and states levels.
The AAPC was once known as the American Academy of Professional Coders. Today, the organization has expanded to include professionals who specialize in medical coding, medical billing, and medical auditing. Members can earn certifications, learn more about compliance, and medical documentation.
Choosing an Accredited College
College and university accreditation is essential to long-term success. A regionally accredited college or university is the best type of accreditation to seek out in a higher learning institution. This accreditation is considered the most reputable, as it requires schools to offer more rigorous academic standings over those that are nationally accredited or not accredited at all.
While it may be tempting to select a college or university that is not regionally accredited, because they are often significantly less expensive and the entrance requirements are far less rigid, this decision will impede the long-term success of any healthcare management career. In healthcare management, it’s essential to understand both healthcare and business at a high level.
Employers will seek out the best possible candidates to protect themselves from liability and to ensure that they create the most desirable facility possible for both patients and potential employees. As such, healthcare employers looking to fill healthcare management positions will only interview the best candidates from the best schools and programs. Accreditation will also have a significant impact on your long-term earning potential.
Online vs. On-Campus vs. Hybrid
Online, hybrid, and on-campus learning opportunities provide everyone with the options for optimal learning. On-campus degree programs are most often pursued by individuals who are able to commit to being full-time students. Many younger students prefer this type of learning as well, at least in part for the entire college experience.
Degrees being available in a hybrid format mean that students will be able to take classes both in-person and online. This type of degree is ideal for individuals who wish to work to gain experience, have to stay home to care for a loved one, or those with physical limitations of various sorts. These degree programs typically require some hands-on, in-person learning to complete a degree, but much of the learning will take place online or in a distance learning format.
Many individuals who are in search of online degrees take advantage of both synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities for the convenience of the programs. These individuals may work while they pursue degrees and certifications or simply may wish to save money.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I expect from an online bachelor’s in healthcare management program?
First, you should not expect this program to be easy. Online programs are just as challenging as their in-person counterparts. As for courses, this can depend on hat program you choose, but many include subjects such as technology and software in healthcare, patient partnership, medical law, risk management, long- and short-term care, and more.
What kind of healthcare management degree should you get?
A bachelor’s degree in healthcare management is all you need to get your foot in the door. If you are looking to get into the field as quickly as possible, then a bachelor’s should be your main goal. However, if you want to move up in the field, you’re likely going to need to earn a master’s degree at some point. You can go the extra mile and earn your master’s in tandem with your bachelor’s degree, or you can start taking classes after you find a job in the field and try to move up as you gain experience.
Why earn your healthcare management degree online?
Earning a healthcare management degree online is a great way to let you gain experience as you gain an education. This is, of course, dependent on you finding an internship or a job that provides you with pertinent experience. However, once you’ve earned your bachelor’s and found a position, then you will have even more reason to attend a program online.
Does the college have post-graduate job placement help & assistance?
Before you make a final decision, it’s a good idea to consider colleges and universities that help with job placement upon graduation. The competition in the workforce today continues to be intense. Many of the best schools provide significant assistance to graduates in resume writing, salary negotiation, mock interviewing, access to job search databases, networking events for alumni, and more.
Why do you need to consider how rating/accreditation can affect your salary?
Ratings and accreditation of both the school and the program will also affect your short-term and long-term salary potential. Those schools and programs with the best accreditations and rankings are considered to produce the best and most knowledgeable graduates. As a result, employers will pay top dollar to secure these talents. When you graduate from top schools and programs you will earn more money.