Hospital Administrative Assistant Careers: Salary & Job Description

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A hospital administrative assistant earns about $34,000 annually. Is it worth the training expense? Get the truth about a career as a hospital administrative assistant to determine if it's the right choice for you.
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Hospital Administrative Assistant Career: Pros and Cons

Hospital administrative assistants, sometimes called medical secretaries, answer phone calls, process paperwork, schedule meetings and disseminate information, as well as handle insurance claims, coordinate hospital stays, transcribe medical dictation and order medical supplies. Read on and explore the pros and cons of a hospital administrative assistant career.

Pros of a Hospital Administrative Assistant Career
Expected steady job growth is excellent (predicted 36% through 2022)*
High school diploma may be enough for an entry-level job**
Work environments are usually comfortable and well-lit**
Flexible work arrangements may be available (part-time, temporary, freelance, job-share)***

Cons of a Hospital Administrative Assistant Career
Without additional training, advancement is limited**
Job is very sedentary***
Workdays include extensive time at the computer, which can lead to ailments such as eye strain and carpal tunnel syndrome***
May have to work in emergency situations, which can be stressful**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **California Occupational Guide, ***U.S. News and World Report.

Career Info

Job Description

Today's hospitals are complex enterprises with all the nuances of any business environment. Like any other office, paperwork needs to be processed, phones must be answered and schedules have to be maintained. In addition to these routine secretarial duties, hospital administrative assistants schedule doctor appointments and meetings, send out bills and process payments, transcribe medical documents, order medical supplies and act as a liaison between doctors, patients, insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies. They also handle health insurance claims, which can be a highly complex process. Since an emergency room is not the same as a hospital finance office, the exact job duties vary from position to position.

Career Options

If you detest hospitals, there are other opportunities to work as an administrative assistant, or medical secretary, in the health care field. For example, you can work in the offices of doctors, dentists or other health care providers. Additionally, outpatient care services need administrative assistants, as do diagnostic laboratories and clinics. Medical secretaries work in government and university facilities, insurance companies and research services.

Hospital administrative assistants can move ahead in their careers by assuming additional responsibilities. For example, you might become an executive assistant, office manager or supervisor of other administrative assistants. You can also leverage your experience to become a sales representative in the pharmaceutical or medical equipment industries.

Salary and Career Prospects

Hospital administrative assistants earn an average salary of about $34,000, according to 2014 statistics by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). A salary survey conducted in 2015 by OfficeTeam determined that the average annual income is $34,000-$44,000. For comparison, the OfficeTeam survey found that health care admissions clerks earn approximately $29,000-$38,000, and medical executive assistants make about $40,000-$56,000. Like most fields, certain industries tend to pay more than others. For hospital administrative assistants, the higher-paying industries include junior colleges, scientific research services, consumer goods rental, state governments and dentist offices, the BLS noted in 2014.

The job outlook for this career is especially bright: the BLS predicts a 36% increase in medical secretary jobs through 2022. This prediction is higher than that of non-medical administrative assistant positions, most likely due to the increasing population and demand for health care.

Education Requirements

Some hospital administrative assistant jobs require nothing more than a high school diploma or a general education diploma (GED) with office experience. However, employers frequently prefer candidates to have an associate or bachelor's degree with experience working in a medical setting. Organizational skills are a must, and depending on the position, familiarity with medical terminology is often necessary. Proficiency in using computers and numerous word processing programs is also desirable. Similarly, knowledge of health insurance billing and processing, hospital and lab procedures, medical procedures and medical software is frequently highly valued.

As a hospital administrative assistant, you'll be dealing with people who may be confused and under a lot of stress. You'll need to be able to put patients at ease and help them understand their doctor's instructions. It might be helpful to take leadership and communication courses to prepare for this level of responsibility.

Real Job Postings

A few job board listings from March 2012 are listed below to help you better understand what employers need.

  • A surgical center in Raleigh, NC, needs a medical office assistant for a variety of duties, including processing patient medical records and financial information, scheduling and confirming appointments, answering the phone and greeting patients. The perferred candidate will be an experienced and certified medical administrative assistant who has completed an accredited program. The employer will consider applicants who have at least a high school diploma or GED.
  • An eye and ear clinic in Boston, MA, seeks a medical administrative assistant to oversee their non-clinical operations, including preparing patient charts, scheduling appointments, answering patient phone calls, managing supplies and assisting with billing and insurance information. The employer does not include any education requirements but states they'd like someone with experience in computer scheduling programs and surgical scheduling, knowledge of medical terminology, and previous experience working in a medical setting.
  • A health care organization in Dallas, TX, needs an administrative assistant to assist executives and department team members, perform data entry, answer the phone and interface with patients. Qualifications include a college degree (preferred), knowledge of medical terminology and insurance claims, ability to type 50 words per minute, adept computer skills and familiarity with Microsoft Office applications. Additional ideal qualities include fun, flexible, organized and detail-oriented.

How to Get an Edge in the Field

As mentioned above, many employers prefer hospital administrative assistant job applicants who have degrees. So getting an associate's or, better yet, a bachelor's degree will immediately give you a leg up on the competition. Employers often need, and will pay more for, people who speak languages other than English, so be sure to let them know if you have that competency. You can also obtain administrative assistant certifications, such as the Certified Professional Secretary or the Certified Administrative Professional. The OfficeTeam survey revealed that employers pay up to 6% more for these kinds of credentials. Another certification to consider is the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA), which, according to statistics on Payscale.com, can help you earn about 10-25% more than you would without one. You can also specialize in a health care area to boost your attractiveness to employers in those fields. Some examples of specialty fields include gynecology, pediatrics and optometry.

Other Careers to Consider

Clinical Medical Assistant

As a clinical medical assistant, you might perform some administrative work, but you'd also get to take vital signs, help patients prepare for their appointments, assist physicians during examinations and prepare specimens for the lab. There aren't any official education requirements, but most employers require at least a high school diploma, and many prefer a few years of vocational training. You'd earn about the same pay that hospital administrative assistants make, around $30,000 on average annually, and your career prospects would still be above average (expected 31% job growth through 2020).

Medical Transcriptionist

If you want to work in the health care field but don't want to interact with patients, you might consider becoming a medical transcriptionist. Your job would include listening to doctors' audio-recorded notes and transcribing them into medical records. To qualify, you would mostly likely need a few years of training at a vocational school. You would make an average of about $34,000 annually, which is almost the same amount as a hospital administrative assistant's salary. However, your job prospects wouldn't be as strong: the BLS predicts an average growth in job opportunities of only 6% through 2020.

Health Services Manager

If you want more responsibility and don't mind going through additional training, you might be interested in becoming a health services manager. You'd be responsible for running the business side of a health facility or group, which can include such areas as billing, housekeeping, policies and procedures, performance management and finances. In 2011, these professionals earned, on average, about $96,000 per year, but you'd need at least a bachelor's or, preferably, a master's degree.

Popular Schools

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    1. George Mason University

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    Master's
      • Master of Health Administration in Health Systems Management
      • Master of Science in Health Informatics
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    2. Kaplan University

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      • Master of Health Information Management
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    3. American University

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    Master's
      • Master of Science in Healthcare Management
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    4. Herzing University

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    5. Grand Canyon University

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    6. Keiser University

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    7. University of Delaware

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    8. Northcentral University

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      • MS - Organizational Leadership: Health Care Administration
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    10. Saint Joseph's University

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Featured Schools

George Mason University

  • Master of Health Administration in Health Systems Management
  • Master of Science in Health Informatics

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Kaplan University

  • Master of Health Information Management
  • Health Information Management
  • Medical Office Administration

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American University

  • Master of Science in Healthcare Management

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Herzing University

  • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Public Safety Leadership
  • Bachelor: Health Information Management
  • Associate: Health Information Management
  • Diploma: Medical Office Admin

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Grand Canyon University

  • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
  • MBA: Health Systems Management
  • BS in Health Care Administration

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Keiser University

  • B.A. - Health Services Admin
  • Associate of Science - Medical Administrative Billing and Coding
  • Associate of Arts - Health Services Admin

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University of Delaware

  • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Concentration

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Northcentral University

  • MS - Organizational Leadership: Health Care Administration

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