What Can You Do with a Degree in Health Care Administration?

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A group of health administrators meet with medical staff.An advanced degree in health care administration can provide a solid foundation for leadership roles in an in-demand career field.

Health care administration encompasses various professional roles working for medical facilities and organizations. With health care technology, delivery, and policy entering a period of rapid transformation, the industry is filled with both challenging and exciting leadership roles. Also, anticipated growth for the field is strong; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), for example, projects a 32% increase in medical and health services management jobs between 2020 and 2030.

In the health care industry overall, the BLS projects an additional 2.6 million jobs during that time period, for a 16% increase. The average projected growth for all jobs during that period, in comparison, is 8%.

Exactly what can you do with a degree in health care administration? Especially at the postgraduate level, health care administration education can lead to high-level positions, including the following:

  • Health care administrator
  • Health services manager
  • Hospital administrator
  • Hospital CEO
  • Health information manager

Health Care Administration Careers

Through careers in health care administration, professionals can take a leadership role in ensuring that patients receive top-quality health care. Health care administration degrees focus on preparing leaders to guide outstanding, affordable care that meets organizational budget goals. Health care administration careers offer opportunities to specialize in areas such as medical facility management, information services, and organizational leadership.

Following is a closer look at key health care administration careers:

Health Care Administrator

Health care administrators, sometimes called health administrators, work to ensure that health care systems run smoothly day to day and that employees are performing at their best. Combining administrative skills with medical knowledge, they manage daily operations and policies, making sure that staff practices are in line with health laws and regulations.

Health care administrators typically work in facilities such as:

  • Primary care centers
  • Nursing homes
  • Hospitals
  • Correctional facilities

Health Care Administrator Job Duties

The responsibilities of health care administrators can range from scheduling to budgeting, with duties such as:

  • Scheduling employees to meet patient needs
  • Coordinating patient record storage
  • Analyzing budgets and processes for efficiency
  • Staying abreast of health care laws and policies

Health Care Administrator Salary

Salaries for any job vary according to factors such as location, experience, and education. The median annual salary for health care administrators was about $73,600 in July 2022, according to Payscale. The top 10% of salaries were $120,000 or more.

Health care administrators in San Antonio, Texas; Los Angeles, California; and Dallas, Texas, were among the highest earners in this career in July 2022, according to Payscale. Professionals in this role in these cities had median salaries that were higher than the median by about 36%, 22%, and 18%, respectively.

Health Services Manager

Becoming a health services manager is another example of what you can do with a degree in health care administration. The role typically takes a bigger-picture approach to leadership than health care administrators do. Health services managers create and lead the implementation of long-term business and financial plans for a facility or for a specific department within it. While many in this career work in a hospital setting, they can also manage small medical practices.

Health Services Manager Job Duties

Responsibilities for health services managers vary according to the setting and the facility or department they manage. Nursing home administrators, for example, typically oversee admissions and the quality of resident care. Clinical managers are responsible for the goal setting, budgeting, and staffing of a specific department, such as nursing or physical therapy.

Health services managers rely on skills like leadership and strategic planning to perform duties such as:

  • Improving the efficiency and quality of services
  • Establishing patient fees and billing procedures
  • Keeping facility and staff policies and procedures in line with laws and regulations

Health Services Manager Salary

The BLS classifies all types of health services manager roles — including those leading nursing homes, clinical departments, and information services — in providing salary information. It indicates the median annual salary for these roles was $101,340 in May 2021. Those whose annual salaries were in the top 10% for this classification of jobs received $205,620 or more.

The top median annual salaries for all medical and health services managers, according to the BLS, were in the following areas:

  • New York
  • District of Columbia
  • Massachusetts
  • Washington
  • New Jersey

Hospital Administrator

Hospital administrators focus on hospitals in ensuring that health care operations are as smooth and efficient as possible. Depending on the size of the hospital, their work can include leading a staff of hundreds or even thousands of people. This health care administration career can also include budget responsibilities.

Hospital Administrator Job Duties

Using skills in areas such as team leadership and strategic planning, hospital administrators typically oversee the work of staff in the following areas:

  • Medical
  • Clerical
  • Technical
  • Maintenance
  • Service

Their duties can include the following:

  • Developing plans to meet hospital goals
  • Overseeing training programs
  • Allocating funds according to available budgets
  • Establishing performance goals for the hospital and its staff

Hospital Administrator Salary

The median annual salary of hospital administrators was about $80,400 in July 2022, according to Payscale. The top 10% of salaries reached more than $150,000. Among the areas where median annual salaries exceeded the national median were Houston, Texas (about 19% higher); Phoenix, Arizona (11% higher); and Chicago, Illinois (10% higher).

Hospital CEO

Another example of what you can do with a degree in health care administration is become a hospital CEO. As the leaders of large facilities with many patients and employees, these professionals have a wide range of responsibilities.

Hospital CEO Job Duties

Relying on leadership skills and health care industry expertise, hospital CEOs oversee staff policies and performance, patient care, and budget outcomes. Hospital CEOs work to ensure that their facilities and personnel:

  • Hire and retain high-quality staff
  • Provide outstanding patient care
  • Follow local and national health care laws and policies
  • Meet financial goals
  • Offer a positive culture for employees
  • Develop strong relationships in the community

Hospital CEO Salary

Salary packages for some hospital CEOs can reach more than $1 million, Lown Institute researchers noted in a 2022 Health Affairs article. The median annual salary for this role, however, was about $154,000 in August 2022, according to Payscale.

The BLS provides salary information for all chief executives, including those in health care, with the highest salaries of these professionals in all industries in May 2021 reported in:

  • District of Columbia
  • Hawaii
  • Washington
  • South Dakota
  • Massachusetts

Health Information Manager

Another health care administration career, health information manager, is responsible for maintaining and protecting patient records and data as well as other internal information. Health information managers work to ensure that databases are accurate, complete, and accessible only to those authorized to view the information.

The BLS classifies this role among medical and health services managers, who primarily work in:

  • Hospitals
  • Doctors’ offices
  • Nursing homes
  • Outpatient care
  • Government roles

Health Information Manager Job Duties

Health information managers help medical facilities and other health care organizations provide care that’s safe, effective, and in compliance with legal guidelines. They protect the collection and storage of information, such as:

  • Medical records
  • Lab and examination results
  • Diagnostic records
  • Patient background data
  • Messages regarding medical professionals and insurance companies

These health care administration professionals often lead teams of medical records and health information technicians, making leadership and organizational skills key to excelling in the role. Typical job duties include the following:

  • Ensuring the security and accuracy of data
  • Maintaining compliance with data collection standards and privacy laws
  • Developing effective data collection strategies

Health Information Manager Salary

Payscale reports that the median annual salary for health information managers was about $60,500 in July 2022, with the top 10% of salaries reaching more than $87,000. The BLS classifies all types of health services manager roles — including those leading nursing homes, clinical departments, and information services — in providing salary information. The median annual salary for these roles was $101,340 in May 2021, according to the BLS. Those whose annual salaries were in the top 10% for this classification of jobs earned $205,620 or more.

Among the cities where health information managers earned above the median annual salary were Chicago, Illinois; Tampa, Florida; and Houston, Texas. Health information managers in these cities earned above the national median salary by about 36%, 19%, and 14%, respectively.

How to Get a Job in Health Care Administration

Another consideration when asking about what you can do with a degree in health care administration is how to pursue a career in the field.

Health care administrator jobs require a college degree, with job descriptions for many roles noting a preference for candidates with master’s degrees. These roles typically require experience as well. Additionally, certification can show prospective employers a commitment to continuing education and provide job-specific knowledge.

Following are some of the steps in the process of  how to get a job in health care administration:

Education

A bachelor’s degree generally is the minimum education requirement for health care administration jobs. Most high-level administrators have postgraduate degrees, however. A master’s degree in health care administration or a related field can provide the knowledge and skills that many high-level health care administration careers require, such as:

  • Medical terminology
  • Health care organizational leadership
  • Health information systems

Health care administration master’s programs typically accept students with bachelor’s degrees in health care administration as well as other majors.

Experience

Many employers require health care administration professionals to have experience in the industry, whether in a professional role or through a degree program. The following roles are among those that often are precursors to health care administration careers:

  • Registered nurse (RN)
  • Physician
  • Medical records and health information technician
  • Administrative assistant
  • Financial clerk

Along with additional education, gaining experience can be a stepping stone to health care administration career growth. Professionals can advance by broadening the scope of their responsibilities or by moving into higher-level positions. Most high-level health care administration roles require several years of experience in the industry.

Licensing and Certification

Another step in how to get a job in health care administration is obtaining licensing and certification. These requirements vary by job and, in some cases, by the location of the position.

Health Care Administration Licensing

Most areas of health care administration don’t have licensing requirements, but some roles do require RN or social worker licenses. Additionally, depending on the state, health services managers working in nursing homes often must hold long-term care licenses that require:

  • Earning at least a bachelor’s degree
  • Completing a state-approved training program
  • Passing a national exam

A state-specific exam and work experience may also be requirements for nursing home administrators, depending on the state.

Health Care Administration Certification

Although not a requirement for most health care administration roles, obtaining certification can set job applicants apart and show their commitment to furthering their knowledge and skills. Certifications are available through some health care administration degree programs as well as through professional organizations.

Professional certifications for health care administration include the following:

  • American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), which offers the Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE) credential
  • American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), which offers certifications including those related to health data analysis, privacy, and security
  • Professional Association of Health Care Office Management (PAHCOM), which provides the Certified Medical Manager (CMM) credential

These certifications generally have requirements for:

  • Education
  • Work experience
  • Certification exams
  • Recertification

To earn FACHE certification, applicants must also meet other criteria, including reference recommendations, continuing education, and volunteer work requirements.

Health Care Administration Skills

A firm understanding of health care-related subjects is crucial for health care leaders in their work leading staff members, developing policies, and protecting patient information.

When researching what you can do with a degree in health care administration, keep in mind that a master’s degree in this field can provide expertise in the topics that are vital for career success. Health care administration careers typically require industry-specific knowledge in areas such as:

  • Budgeting
  • Ethics
  • Human resources
  • Information systems
  • Marketing
  • Research methods
  • Service delivery
  • Strategic planning

An advanced health care administration degree program that provides opportunities for hands-on, team-oriented learning can also help professionals sharpen key health care administration skills.

Among the critical skills in health care administration are:

  • Active listening — To address the needs of staff and patients who come to them with concerns and questions
  • Analysis — To understand and follow current laws and adapt to new regulations
  • Attention to detail — To ensure accuracy in finances, policies, and patient data
  • Communication — To effectively relay the latest policies and procedures to staff orally and in writing
  • Leadership — To guide the successful hiring, training, and motivating of employees
  • Organization — To manage various professionals and the tasks they perform
  • Problem-solving — To find creative solutions to staffing or other administrative issues
  • Technology use — To use the software and electronic health record (EHR) systems that store and protect data

Prepare for In-Demand Leadership Careers

A degree in health care administration can lead to various careers that offer the opportunity to improve lives — in a field that’s in high demand. Also, a postgraduate education in health care administration can offer opportunities for advancing to high-level roles in the industry.

If you’re ready to pursue a degree that can equip you for launching or advancing your career in health care administration, explore the online Master of Health Administration (MHA) from Ohio University.

Through learning about theoretical concepts and taking part in collaborative classwork, you can fine-tune the skills that top-level health care administration roles require. Through five areas of specialization — health care leadership, business analytics, project management, aging studies, and quality improvement — you can also earn a certificate that can set you apart in pursuing competitive positions in the industry.

Through coursework that’s fully online, you can take advantage of added convenience and flexibility. Discover how OHIO’s online MHA degree can help you reach your health care leadership goals.

Recommended Readings

How Health Administrators Are Helping Safeguard Medicine in the Developing World

The Major Problems in the U.S. Health Care System and How They May Be Fixed

Mobile Health Clinic Guide: Tips for Expanding Your Health Practice

Sources:

American College of Healthcare Executives, Earn My FACHE

American Health Information Management Association, Certifications & Careers

Health Affairs, “Nonprofit Hospital CEO Compensation: How Much Is Enough?”

Indeed, “8 Careers You Can Consider with a Health Administration Degree”

Indeed, “How to Become a Hospital CEO”

Indeed, Health Administrator Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

LinkedIn, Healthcare Administration

Payscale, Average Healthcare Administrator Salary

Payscale, Average Health Information Management (HIM) Manager Salary

Payscale, Average Hospital Administrator Salary

Payscale, Average Hospital Chief Executive Officer Salary

Payscale, Average Medical and Health Services Manager Salary

Professional Association of Health Care Office Management, Certified Medical Manager

Society for Human Resource Management, Hospital Administrator

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Healthcare Occupations

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Medical and Health Services Managers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2021, Medical and Health Services Manager