Hospital Administrator Careers: Salary & Job Info

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A hospital administrator's average annual salary is around $104,000, but is it worth the education requirements? Read about real job duties and get the truth about career prospects to decide if becoming a hospital administrator is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Hospital Administrator Career

Hospital administrators manage the day to day operations of hospitals and similar medical facilities. Check out the pros and cons below to see if pursuing a career as a hospital administrator is the right choice for you.

Pros of Becoming a Hospital Administrator
High pay (mean salary over $104,000 in May 2014)*
Expected growth in job opportunities (23% growth from 2012-2022)*
A variety of facilities at which to work (almost 5,800 registered hospitals in U.S. in 2010)**
Meaningful job helping patients receive high quality care*

Cons of Becoming a Hospital Administrator
May need a master's degree to work at some hospitals (2-3 extra years of college)*
Long term care hospitals require state license*
High stress work environment**
Overtime and weekend work is often necessary*

Source(s): *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **American Hospital Association, ***O*NET OnLine.

Essential Career Info

Job Description and Duties

A hospital administrator is one of the many job titles found under the umbrella of medical and health services management. Specific job duties may vary, depending on the size and location of the hospital, as well as type of care it provides. In addition to making sure patients receive the best care possible at a facility, hospital administrators most often plan budgets, meet with shareholders, allocate funds where needed, make sure all regulatory, legal and corporate policies are being followed and represent the hospital in the community.

Administrators are also responsible for dealing with hospital personnel. They may supervise subordinates and create work schedules for staff. Administrators have to know what is going on around them to prevent issues involving patient care or financial stability from occurring. When dealing with difficult situations, long hours or stressful encounters may be common.

Salary and Employment Growth

People are living longer and will need more medical care as they age. For this reason, healthcare facilities will need more qualified professionals to keep up with medical advancements and provide quality services. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical and health services managers will see a 23% increase in employment from 2012-2022. The American Hospital Association estimated that close to 5,800 hospitals were in operation in 2010, and the BLS states that the demand for new facilities will grow. Medical and health services managers earned a median annual salary of about $93,000 in May of 2014, with the bottom ten percent receiving close to $56,000 and the top ten percent making upwards of $161,000.

Job Requirements

Education and Licensing

For professionals seeking a career in hospital administration, a bachelors' degree in business or health administration is generally required. Larger, more complex facilities may prefer to hire someone with a master's degree. Coursework that will prepare you to manage hospital activities and finances includes human resources, accounting, ethics, legal issues in healthcare, hospital organizational management, finance and economics.

An undergraduate degree will take around four years to complete, and you will need to complete an additional 2-3 years to earn a master's degree. Administrators who manage long-term facilities most often need to obtain state licensing before they can perform job duties. Licensure requirements vary by state, but typically demand that you earn a bachelor's degree, complete an additional state-approved training program and pass an exam. You will not need to be licensed to work in other types of hospitals or clinics.

Necessary Skills

As a hospital administrator, you will be dealing with personnel concerns and financial issues. The ability to provide strong leadership and communicate effectively is a must. Other skills and characteristics needed include:

  • Patience
  • Sound judgment
  • Writing and computer proficiency
  • Analytical and problem-solving skills

What Do Employers Want?

In job listings, employers usually state what type of degree a candidate should have and how many years of experience is preferred. A bachelor's degree in healthcare administration, business or a related field is most often required, in addition to three or more years of work experience in the industry. Many employers will give preference to candidates with a master's degree. The real job postings below, found in April 2012, should give you a glimpse of what employers are looking for when filling a hospital administrator position.

  • A medical facility in Florida is seeking a hospital administrator to manage personnel, provide quality patient services, adhere to regulatory requirements and represent the mission of the facility. A bachelor's degree in health care administration, business, public health or a related field and ten years of experience in hospital management is required. Professional certification and a master's degree are preferred. Candidates should be able to think critically and possess strong multitasking skills.
  • A hospital in Colorado wants to hire a CEO/hospital administrator with a bachelor's degree in business, health care administration or related field and five years of experience in a leadership role. Job duties include meeting with department heads, evaluating budgets, reviewing regulatory policies, assessing facility needs, and representing the hospital in the community. Holding a master's degree is a plus.
  • A university medical center in New York is looking for a healthcare business administrator to coordinate activities of medical personnel and other essential departments, ensure accounting is efficient, analyze business practices and recommend changes in procedures, prepare presentations and create reports. Problem-solving and computer skills, in addition to a bachelor's degree and three years of experience, are required. A master's degree is preferred.

Standing Out in the Field

To gain an edge over other professionals in the same field, you should work in positions that allow you to fine tune organizational and leadership skills. Although some positions may only require a bachelor's degree, pursuing a graduate degree in health care administration or a master's in business administration could move your resume to the top of the pile. Technology is changing every day, and keeping up with these advancements through continuing education courses, conferences and seminars is beneficial when applying for jobs or seeking promotions.

You should also consider becoming a member of a professional organization, such as the American College of Health Care Administrators, the American Hospital Association, the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management or the American College of Healthcare Executives. These organizations will allow you to network with other professionals, obtain certification and pursue educational opportunities. The American Hospital Association offers the Certified Healthcare Facility Manager credential that can be earned after passing an exam and completing specific experience and education requirements.

Alternative Career Options

Health Information Technician

If you want to perform office work in a hospital but are discouraged with the amount of education required to become a hospital administrator, you should consider a career in health information technology. Health information technicians collect patient data, including medical histories, test results and other records, and then input it into computer programs for tracking and insurance reimbursement purposes. Most workers in this field only need a certificate or associate's degree in health information technology to find a job, but some employers may also require industry certification. Medical records and health information technicians should expect to see a 21% increase in employment between 2010 and 2010, as projected by the BLS. In May 2011, the mean yearly salary of these professionals was measured close to $36,000.

Human Resources Manager

If you want a managerial job with similar education requirements and more pay, you should consider becoming a human resources (HR) manager. HR managers coordinate personnel activities, oversee benefit and compensation programs, deal with staffing problems and make sure all safety policies and regulatory practices are adhered to. A bachelor's degree in business administration or human resources management is necessary for employment in this field, but other related areas of study may be acceptable. An 13% employment growth rate is projected by the BLS during the 2010-2020 decade, quite lower than the growth rate for hospital administrator careers. Salaries are much higher though, with the average estimated to be around $109,000 a year, as determined by BLS data from May 2011.

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
    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 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
  • Campus and Online Programs
    4. South University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Healthcare Administration (MBA)
      • Healthcare Administration (MHA)
  • Campus Locations:
    5. College of Health Care Professions

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Medical Coding and Billing-Certificate
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
    Master's
      • MBA: Health Systems Management
      • MS in Health Care Administration
    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
    7. George Mason University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Health Administration in Health Systems Management
      • Master of Science in Health Informatics
  • Online Programs Available
    8. American University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Healthcare Management
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Saint Leo University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS: Healthcare Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    10. The George Washington University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MSHS Clinical Operations & Healthcare Management
      • MSHS in Biomedical Informatics
    Bachelor's
      • Dual Degree: BSHS in Clinical Research Administration/MSHS in Regulatory Affairs
      • BSHS in Clinical Operations and Healthcare Management

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 Organizational Leadership - Healthcare Management
  • Master of Business Administration - 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?

South University

  • Healthcare Administration (MBA)
  • Healthcare Administration (MHA)

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?

Grand Canyon University

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

What is your highest level of education?

George Mason University

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

What is your highest level of education?

American University

  • Master of Science in Healthcare Management

What is your highest level of education?