Health Care Administrator Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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A health care administrator's median salary is around $93,000 annually. Is it worth the education and training requirements? Find out the truth about the job duties and read job postings from real employers to decide if this career path is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Being a Health Care Administrator

Health care administrators ensure patients receive quality health care and that facilities or departments run effectively. They also manage staff, as well as the financial and regulatory affairs of a health care facility. Find out the pros and cons of being a health care administrator to determine if this job is right for you.

Pros of Being a Health Care Administrator
High earning potential (mean wages of $104,000 in 2014 for all medical and health services managers)*
Can improve the quality of care for patients*
Can get an entry-level job with a bachelor's degree *
Job security (expected 23% growth from 2012-2022 for all medical and health services managers)*

Cons of Being a Health Care Administrator
Long hours (evenings, weekends or overnight)*
High-level of responsibility may be stressful**
Often requires dealing with complex regulatory policies*
Some positions require graduate education and licensure*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and **O*Net Online

Essential Career Info

Job Description and Duties

Also called 'medical and health services managers', health care administrators are responsible for a wide variety of issues related to effectively running a health care organization, such as a hospital, medical practice or retirement home. Duties you may perform include determining the costs for health services, planning budgets, remaining abreast of government regulations and medical advancements, implementing health care delivery programs, recruiting employees and training staff members.

Typically, you may perform more of the day-to-day activities for an administrator position at a small facility. However, larger facilities tend to have more assistant administrators, which may allow you focus on more executive tasks, such as meeting investors and governing boards.

Specialties

In the health care administration career field, specializations may vary your job duties. For example, nursing home administrators manage finances and staff in residential nursing homes, while clinical managers work in a specific department. Additionally, assistant administrators work under a lead administrator within larger facilities and may be assigned to a specific area, while health information managers maintain patient records and databases.

Job Outlook and Salary Info

Job growth in the field is projected to be faster than average due to the need to reduce costs and improve the quality of health care. As of May 2014, most medical and health services managers earned from $56,000 - $161,000. You can find the most job opportunities in hospitals, physician's offices, nursing care facilities and home health services. Employers paying the top wages were the insurance and employee benefit funds and scientific research and development services, stated the BLS.

What are the Requirements?

Education and Skill Requirements

Completion of a master's program is the standard education required for this career field; however, you may gain entry-level employment if you have a bachelor's degree. In some instances, a bachelor's degree is sufficient for administrator positions at small heath care establishments. You can prepare for this profession by completing a degree program in areas such as business, health, long-term care or public administration.

As part of your graduate study, you may be required to complete a year of supervised administrative training. Typically, you can complete field training and graduate coursework within 2-3 years. Along with academic knowledge, some skills the BLS noted are required in this position include:

  • Excellent communication
  • Strong analytical skills
  • Leadership and motivation skills
  • Competency in finance and information systems

Licensure Requirements

In addition to a college degree, you are required to pass a licensure exam to become a nursing home administrator in all U.S. states. To work in nursing home administration, you must first complete a related bachelor's degree program, pass a nursing home administrator (NHA) licensure exam, complete a training program approved in your state and participate in continuing education. Depending on the state where you wish to seek employment, you may also be required to complete these steps for an administrator position at an assisted-living facility, stated the BLS.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Most postings demonstrate that employers are looking for candidates with management experience in the health care industry. If you have a bachelor's degree, your management experience will most likely come from serving in an assistant administrative or assistant department management role, according to the BLS. On the other-hand, if you have a master's degree, you may start-out as a supervisor or department manager. The following are some real job postings for health care administration positions that can give you a sense of what education and experience requirements employers were looking for during March 2012:

  • A continuing care facility in Illinois is seeking an experienced nursing home administrator (NHA) to assist the executive director and be in charge of the facility in the director's absence. Other qualifications include having a related bachelor's or master's degree, 2-3 years of management experience and a valid Illinois NHA license.
  • A Vermont correctional health care company wants to hire a candidate with administration experience in the corrections, dental, medical or mental health industry. This candidate will be responsible for managing the company's health care delivery program. The ideal candidate will possess a bachelor's degree in nursing or another related field, a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification and a nursing license.
  • A South Chicago, IL, staffing firm wants to hire a NHA with a 4-year degree and at least five years of experience to perform functions, such as creating plans for delivery of quality health care, managing financial operations and ensuring the facility remains compliant with health policies.
  • A medical center in Ventura, CA, is looking for a hospital administrator with a bachelor's or master's degree and 5-7 years of health care management experience. This candidate will primarily be responsible for managing all the affairs of the inpatient medical care program at two of the hospital's branches. This employer is offering $137,000-$192,000 annually.

How to Stand Out in the Field

To stand out in the field, you can gain advanced education and certification. The American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management (AAHAM) offers a Certified Patient Account Manager (CPAM) and a Certified Clinic Account Manager (CCAM) professional credential. To sit for these certification exams, you must be a member in good standing with the AAHAM and have 2-4 years of experience in the health care industry.

If you're working in an assistant administrative role and want to advance your career in health care management, you may consider obtaining the Certified Healthcare Administrative Professional (cHAP) designation. This certification is offered by the Association for Healthcare Administrative Professionals (ACHAP) and is specifically designed for those in support positions. You are required to have prior education and work experience in the field to register for this certification exam.

Alternative Career Paths

Health Care Social Worker

So perhaps you don't want carry the weight of being responsible for managing an entire medical facility, but still want a career delivering quality health care to patients. If this is the case, working as a health care social worker may be ideal for you. In this profession, you would serve as an advocate for patients to ensure they receive the medical services needed.

The bulk of your responsibilities would typically revolve around coordinating mental, physical and rehabilitation care for clients and monitoring their progress. You would most likely need to complete a master's program in social work for this health care position, according to the BLS. The BLS also reported that as of May 2011, health care social workers earned a median salary of $49,000.

Health Educator

If you've always had a knack for public speaking and want to combine that with your passion for heath care, a career in health education may be suitable for you. In this position, you may work with individual clients or groups educating them in nutrition, exercise or disease prevention. Other common duties include coordinating outreach and training programs and distributing health education print or video materials.

With a bachelor's degree and certification, you can perform services for the federal or state government, community health organizations, medical facilities, colleges or secondary schools. You may also have good job security in this career field, as employment is projected to grow faster than average, according to the BLS. The median salary you can expect to earn in this position is $48,000 annually.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Purdue University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA: Health Care Management
      • Master of Healthcare Admin
      • Master: Management/Health Care Mgmt
      • Master of Health Informatics
      • Master of Health Information Management
      • MS in Nursing
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Healthcare Admin
      • Bachelor: Health Science
      • BS in Health Information Management
    Certificate
      • Medical Office Administration Certificate
      • Medical Billing and Coding Certificate
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Saint Leo University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS: Healthcare Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

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

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Healthcare Admin and Management
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Healthcare Admin and Management
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Regent University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Strategic Leadership - Healthcare Leadership
    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Government - Healthcare Policy and Ethics
      • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Healthcare Management
      • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Management
      • Master of Public Administration - Healthcare Policy and Ethics
      • M.A. in Law - Health Care Law
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management
      • B.S. in Professional Studies - Healthcare Management
  • Online Programs Available
    6. The George Washington University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MSHS in Clinical Research Administration
      • MSHS in Clinical and Translational Research
      • MSHS in Regulatory Affairs
      • MSHS Clinical Operations & Healthcare Management
      • MSHS in Biomedical Informatics
    Bachelor's
      • Dual Degree: BSHS in Clinical Research Administration/MSHS in Regulatory Affairs
      • BSHS in Biomedical Informatics
      • BSHS in Clinical Operations and Healthcare Management
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Health Care Admin
      • PhD in Business Admin - Health Care Admin
    Master's
      • MBA - Health Care Admin
      • MS - Organizational Leadership: Health Care Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA: Health Care Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: BS Mgt. & Healthcare Mgt.
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Mgt. & Human Resources
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Accounting & Healthcare Mgmt.
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Technology Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Public Safety Leadership
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Health Care Management
      • Bachelor: Health Information Management
    Associate's
      • Associate: Healthcare Management
      • Associate: Health Information Management
      • Associate of Science - Insurance Billing and Coding Specialist
    Certificate
      • Diploma: Medical Office Admin
  • Campus Locations:
    9. College of Health Care Professions

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Medical Coding and Billing-Certificate
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Utica College

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MHA in Healthcare Administration
      • MHA in Health Care Administration - Acute Care
      • MHA in Health Care Administration - Long Term Care
      • MHA in Health Care Administration - Service Organization
      • MBA - Health Care Management

Featured Schools

Purdue University Global

  • MBA: Health Care Management
  • Bachelor: Healthcare Admin
  • Medical Office Administration Certificate

Which subject are you interested in?

Saint Leo University

  • BS: Healthcare Administration

What is your highest level of education completed?

Grand Canyon University

  • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
  • MS in Health Care Administration
  • BS in Health Care Administration

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado State University Global

  • MS - Healthcare Admin and Management
  • BS - Healthcare Admin and Management

What is your highest level of education?

Regent University

  • Doctor of Strategic Leadership - Healthcare Leadership
  • Master of Arts in Government - Healthcare Policy and Ethics
  • Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management

What is your highest level of education completed?

The George Washington University

  • MSHS in Clinical Research Administration
  • MSHS in Clinical and Translational Research
  • Dual Degree: BSHS in Clinical Research Administration/MSHS in Regulatory Affairs
  • BSHS in Biomedical Informatics

What is your highest level of education?

Northcentral University

  • Doctor of Business Admin - Health Care Admin
  • PhD in Business Admin - Health Care Admin
  • MBA - Health Care Admin
  • MS - Organizational Leadership: Health Care Administration

What is your highest level of education?

Herzing University

  • MBA: Health Care Management
  • Bachelor: Health Care Management
  • Associate: Healthcare Management
  • Diploma: Medical Office Admin

What is your highest level of education?