Becoming a Health Service Administrator: Salary & Job Description

About this article
A health service administrator's median annual salary is about $93,000, but is it worth the lengthy educational requirements? Read real job descriptions and get the truth about career prospects to decide if becoming a health service administrator is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Working as a Health Service Administrator

Health service administrators and managers coordinate services in health centers, hospitals and clinics. Some pros and cons for this career are listed below to help you decide if becoming a health service administrator is right for you.

Pros of a Health Service Administrator Career
Above average earning potential (median salary in 2014 was about $93,000)*
Some administrators can begin their career after completing a bachelor's degree*
Variety of job specialties (health information, clinical, nursing home)*
Fast job growth is expected (23% increase in jobs between 2012 and 2022)*
Wide variety of businesses that seek health service administrators*

Cons of a Health Service Administrator Career
Long hours are often necessary*
Master's degree is a common requirement*
Administrators and managers are often on call 24 hours a day*
Earning potential is often determined by the size of the facility*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Information

Job Description

Health service administrators use their business skills and knowledge of health care policy to help health service organizations run efficiently and deliver quality care. Because the structure of the health care industry is complex and constantly shifting, administrators find ways to deliver health services in ways that are consistent with technological, political and financial changes in the industry. Administrators may supervise particular departments or entire medical practices.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), health service administrators are expected to enjoy a 23% increase in professional opportunities between 2012 and 2022. The BLS noted that hospitals would be the most common employer of health service administrators, in addition to medical group practices and health care management companies. In May of 2014, the BLS reported that health service administrators and managers earned a median annual salary of around $93,000.

What Are the Requirements?

Education Requirements

The majority of health service administrators and managers hold a master's degree in health administration, public administration or business administration. Depending on the graduate program, some students can specialize in areas of health service administration like nursing care, mental health care or even health care policy. Although most administrators complete an advanced degree, some administrators may acquire entry-level jobs with a bachelor's degree.

Licensing

Not all health services administrators need to be licensed; however, all state require those who work in a nursing care facility have a license, and some states require licenses for health services administrators who work in assisted-living facilities. State licensing requirements vary by state but typically include holding a minimum of a bachelor's degree, passing the state's licensing exam and graduating from a training program approved by the state.

Skills

Health service administrators should be able to handle many responsibilities at one time, listen to feedback from staff and colleagues and pay attention to detail. Additionally, administrators should be able to handle information systems and understand how to analyze the data they provide.

Job Listings from Real Employers

Employers tend to want health services administrators with experience in business management as well as a specific area of the health care industry, such as behavioral health or long-term care. Below are job postings from March 2012.

  • A health care provider in Minnesota is seeking a program coordinator with at least one year of experience working with patients with disabilities. A successful candidate will have a bachelor's degree in human services and previous supervisory experience.
  • A Boston-based health care provider would like to hire a behavioral health program director for services that are offered in New Hampshire. The director will be responsible for providing managerial support to New Hampshire's Office of Clinical Affairs in relation to all areas of behavioral health. Preferred applicants will have a master's degree in a behavioral health field and at least seven years of experience in behavioral health with at least three years in managed care.
  • An Oklahoma nursing home is looking for an administrator to manage its business affairs and supporting strategies. The nursing home would like to hire an administrator with long-term care management experience and a background in business administration.

How Can I Stand Out in the Field?

In addition to an advanced degree, health care administrators sometimes look into professional certification in order to distinguish themselves from others in the field. Organizations like the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offer credentials like the Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA). This type of health services administrator oversees computer information systems that manage patient records, histories and other kinds of information. Their responsibilities can include management of personnel and departments. They are often part of administrative or budgetary committees.

Alternate Careers

If you decide that working as a health service administrator is not for you, but you are still interested in the administration side of the medical field, there are some other professions you may want to look into.

Insurance Underwriter

Insurance underwriters judge whether or not an insurance company will provide coverage to an individual or business. They analyze data and determine whether the risk involved with each venture is financially sound. Insurance underwriters can obtain entry-level jobs with a bachelor's degree, and the BLS projects that opportunities in the field will increase by only 6% between 2010 and 2020. The agency also reported that insurance underwriters earn an average salary of approximately $61,000 per year.

Social and Community Service Manager

Social and community service managers coordinate, plan and implement programs in community outreach and service providers. They also oversee the business and finances of these organizations and manage staff. The BLS projected that community service managers will experience a faster than average amount of growth in job opportunities - 27% between 2010 and 2020, and you can obtain an entry level position with a bachelor's degree. The BLS also reported that social and community service managers earned a median annual salary of close to $59,000.

Budget Analyst

Budget analysts aid a variety of organizations, including those that are health-based, in organizing and allocating their finances. Analysts can work in both the private and public sector, and they also analyze performance, organizational dynamics and policy, much like health service administrators. The BLS projects that this field will grow by 10% between 2010 and 2020. According to studies conducted in May of 2011, the BLS also determined that budget analysts earned a median annual salary of around $69,000.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    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. 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
  • Campus Locations:
    3. American National University

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Medical Office Professional - Diploma
      • Medical Billing and Coding - Diploma
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Graduate Specialization - Healthcare Administration
      • MS - Healthcare Admin and Management
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Healthcare Admin and Management
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Queens University of Charlotte

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Health Administration
      • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Management
  • Campus Locations:
    6. College of Health Care Professions

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Medical Coding and Billing-Certificate
  • Campus and Online Programs
    7. Southern Careers Institute

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Medical Billing and Coding Specialist
  • Campus Locations:
    8. CDI College

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Diploma in Assistance in Health Care Facilities - Assistance la Personne en tablissement de Sant
      • Diploma in Health Care Assistant
      • Diploma in Health, Assistance & Nursing Sant, Assistance et Soins Infirmiers
      • Diploma in Medical Office Administration
      • Diploma in Medical Office Administrator
      • Diploma in Medical Office Assistant
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    High School Diploma
      • HS Diploma
  • Towson, MD

    Towson University

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

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

Which subject are you interested in?

Regent University

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

What is your highest level of education completed?

American National University

  • Medical Office Professional - Diploma
  • Medical Billing and Coding - Diploma

What is your education level?

Colorado State University Global

  • Graduate Specialization - Healthcare Administration
  • MS - Healthcare Admin and Management
  • BS - Healthcare Admin and Management

What is your highest level of education?

Queens University of Charlotte

  • Master of Health Administration
  • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Management

What is your highest level of education completed?

College of Health Care Professions

  • Medical Coding and Billing-Certificate

What is your highest level of education completed?

Southern Careers Institute

  • Medical Billing and Coding Specialist

What is your highest level of education completed?

CDI College

  • Diploma in Assistance in Health Care Facilities - Assistance la Personne en tablissement de Sant
  • Diploma in Health Care Assistant
  • Diploma in Health, Assistance & Nursing Sant, Assistance et Soins Infirmiers

What year did you graduate high school?