By: Kathleen Gaines MSN, BA, RN, CBC
Healthcare administrators, also known as healthcare executives or healthcare services managers, plan, coordinate and direct healthcare services. Healthcare administration is a rapidly growing career with lots of room for career advancement and many programs can be completed online! Learn how you can get started in a career in healthcare administration.
Part One What is a Healthcare Administrator?
Healthcare administrators work closely with medical physicians, nurses, and other staff to ensure a healthcare or medical facility runs smoothly, safely, and is compliant with all state and national regulations. You'll need to have completed a bachelor’s degree or higher to work in this role.
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.
Healthcare administrators go by many names! Some of their titles can include:
- 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 Two 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 2019 median salary of $100,980 per year or $48.55/hr 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:
- 1-4 years of experience earn an average salary of $60,544
- 5-9 years of experience earns an average salary of $71,996
- 10-19 years of experience earns an average salary of $81,532
- 20+ years of experience earns an average salary of $89,746
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:
- Chicago, Illinois - $89,320
- Los Angeles, California - $81,218
- Miami, Florida - $72,945
- Atlanta, Georgia - $72,414
- New York, New York - $71,216
Part Three 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.
Where Can Healthcare Administrators Work?
Healthcare Administrators can work in a variety of settings including,
- Nursing Facilities
- Community Health Centers
- Drug Treatment Facilities
- Consulting Firms for Healthcare
- Government Health Agencies
- International Health Agencies
- Professional Healthcare Associations
- Mental Health Centers
- Ambulatory Care Centers
- Adult Day Care Centers
- Consulting Firms
- Medical Supply Companies
- Outpatient Surgery Centers
- Health Insurance Companies
- Managed Care Facilities
- Rehabilitation Centers
- Urgent Care Clinics
- Private physician practices
- Home healthcare agencies
- Small or large group medical practices
Part Four How Do You Become A Healthcare Administrator?
Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
Anyone interested in becoming a healthcare administrator will need to earn a Bachelor's in Healthcare Administration at minimum. In this program, 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 medical or nursing degrees and then continue your education with additional coursework.
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.
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 Five 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 18% from 2018 to 2028, 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 Six 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,
- Online Programs
- 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.
Part Seven Where Can I Learn More About Healthcare Administration?
- Healthcare Administrators Association
- American Association of Healthcare Administration Management
- Healthcare Financial Management Association
- Association for Healthcare Administrative Professionals
- National Association of Healthcare Access Management
- American Health Information Management Association
- American College of Healthcare Executives
- Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society
- American Society for Healthcare Risk Management
Part Eight 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.