Assisted Living Administrator Careers: Salary & Job Description

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Assisted living administrators earn average salaries of about $103,680. Is the pay worth the certification or licensure requirements? See real job descriptions and get the truth about career prospects to find out if becoming an assisted living administrator is for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career in Assisted Living Administration

Rather than focusing solely on the financial and managerial aspects of a business or an organization, assisted living administrators are also responsible for the care of residents. Some more pros and cons of a career in this field are outlined below.

Pros of an Assisted Living Administration Career
Multiple opportunities for advancement*
Competitive pay (median annual salary was about $92,810 as of 2014)**
Can work in a variety of environments (nursing homes, retirement communities, residential care)*
Can be personally rewarding to help care for the elderly*

Cons of an Assisted Living Administration Career
Irregular hours, including emergency calls**
Some higher-level positions require years of education or experience**
Job responsibilities can be stressful***
State patient care regulations are extensive ***

Sources: *National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, ***Assisted Living Federation of America

Essential Career Info

Job Description and Duties

An assisted living administrator is a type of long-term care administrator who's responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of such facilities as senior living communities, congregate housing and special care units. Job responsibilities may include marketing and selling services to clients and their families or budgeting a facility's financial resources. Administrators in this field are also responsible for overseeing the quality of patient care services, whether by recruiting and retaining a well-qualified staff or ensuring that patients' physical and social needs are being met. If you take a job in this field, you'll also need to be familiar with state regulations that pertain to employee laws and the administration of medication.

Salary Statistics and Job Outlook

According to the results of a compensation survey published by the National Center for Assisted Living in its 2011 newsletter, assisted living administrators earned an average annual salary of about $71,000, but statistics from more recent sources vary greatly. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that the broader field of medical and health services management would experience a 23% job growth over the 2012-2022 decade, which was faster than the average for other jobs (www.bls.gov). Medical and health services managers earned a yearly average wage of approximately $103,680 as of May 2014.

Career Requirements

Education Options

To work as an assisted living administrator, you typically must earn an associate or bachelor's degree in health care administration or long-term care administration. Higher-level positions at hospitals may require you to earn a master's degree in long-term care administration or business administration. Some community colleges offer certificate and continuing education programs that can help you meet specific state certification or licensing requirements. Course topics can include facilities management, resident care and long-term care law. They may also include an internship component, where you can accumulate several hundred hours of clinical experience at an assisted living facility.

Certification and Licensure Requirements

Some states regulate the practice of assisted living administrators by requiring them to become certified or licensed. In many cases, candidates need to acquire an appropriate combination of work experience and postsecondary education. Other states may also require applicants to complete state-approved training and internship programs. Passing scores on written exams are another common requirement. You might take a state-issued exam or the Residential Care/Assisted Living Administrator exam offered through the National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards.

What Employers Are Looking For

In addition to supervisory experience and some college education, employers usually seek applicants who have some familiarity with marketing and finance, in addition to good communication and organizational skills. Some sample job posts from February 2012 list common job requirements.

  • A private healthcare company is looking for an administrator with three years of combined experience and education to oversee the staffing and quality of resident care at its assisted living facility in Tennessee.
  • A nonprofit housing organization in South Carolina seeks an administrator with 3-5 years of experience to manage its independent and assisted senior living communities. Prior nonprofit experience is requested, but not a requirement.
  • A long-term care facility in Nevada is looking for an assisted living administrator who can manage the facility's finances and employee relations. Applicants for this position need two years of experience, and a bachelor's degree is preferred.

How to Get an Edge in the Field

To set yourself apart as an administrator, you may want to consider taking some business classes to build your sales and marketing skills or learn about finance. Courses that cover group dynamics, interpersonal communication or conflict management may also be helpful, since many of your job responsibilities involve managing both patients and staff members.

Taking advantage of resources available through professional organizations, such as the National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards or the National Center for Assisted Living, might also give you an edge when entering the job field. These resources can include training materials, clinical practice guidelines and study guides for certification exams. You may also be able to take advantage of the networking opportunities available through organization membership.

Alternative Career Paths

Nursing home administration might be another career option to consider if you're interested in providing services to patients who need extensive rehabilitation or nursing care. These administrators also must meet similar licensing requirements, which usually include the completion of a bachelor's degree program, in addition to a state-approved internship and training program. Professionals must also pass a written exam, according to the BLS.

If you'd rather have more hands-on or clinical responsibilities, you might consider becoming a nurse supervisor in a long-term care facility. These professionals are usually registered nurses (RNs) who have experience working in a nursing home or retirement community. To earn the RN credential, you must complete a nursing associate or bachelor's degree program approved by your state board of nursing, according to the BLS. You'll also need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). The BLS reported that RNs made a mean yearly salary of about $69,000 as of May 2011.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. American University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Healthcare Management
      • Master of Science in Healthcare Management
    Certificate
      • Graduate Certificate in Healthcare Management
      • Graduate Certificate in Healthcare Management
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
      • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
    Master's
      • MBA: Health Systems Management
      • MS in Health Care Administration
      • Master of Public Administration - Health Care Management
    Bachelor's
      • BS in Health Sciences: Professional Development & Advanced Patient Care
      • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science
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  • Online Programs Available
    3. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Public Safety Leadership
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Project Management
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      • Associate of Science - Medical Assisting Services
    Certificate
      • Diploma: Medical Assisting
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    5. University of Delaware

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Concentration
  • Online Programs Available
    6. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Healthcare Management
      • Master of Business Admin: Healthcare Admin
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Business Admin: Healthcare Management
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  • Online Programs Available
    7. University of the Southwest

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA Healthcare Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Management - Health Care Management and Leadership
    Master's
      • MS - Healthcare Management
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    Bachelor's
      • BS - Business Administration - Health Care Management
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Graduate Specialization - Healthcare Administration
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    10. Brightwood College

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Medical Assistant - AS
    Certificate
      • Medical Assistant - Certificate
      • Medical Assistant - Diploma
      • Pharmacy Technician Certificate

Featured Schools

American University

  • Master of Science in Healthcare Management
  • Graduate Certificate in Healthcare Management

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

  • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
  • MBA: Health Systems Management
  • BS in Health Sciences: Professional Development & Advanced Patient Care

What is your highest level of education?

Herzing University

  • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Public Safety Leadership
  • Associate of Science - Medical Assisting Services
  • Diploma: Medical Assisting

What is your highest level of education?

Northcentral University

  • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration

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University of Delaware

  • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Concentration

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American InterContinental University

  • Master of Healthcare Management
  • Master of Business Admin: Healthcare Admin
  • Bachelor of Business Admin: Healthcare Management
  • Bachelor of Healthcare Management - HSA Mgt.

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University of the Southwest

  • MBA Healthcare Administration

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado Technical University

  • Doctor of Management - Health Care Management and Leadership
  • MS - Healthcare Management
  • BS - Business Administration - Health Care Management

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