Assisted living facility (ALF) administrators manage the daily operations of residential care homes. There are many types of education programs in assisted living administration. Brief training programs generally offer continuing education to individuals already working in the field. A bachelor's degree program in health administration with a focus on long-term care provides extensive training in business of running a long-term care facility, including hands-on training. Graduate certificate programs may offer entry into this profession to students who already hold bachelor's degrees. In some states, assisted living administrators must be licensed. Students seeking this type of position should make sure that any program they are considering meets their state's requirements.
Assisted Living Management Training
Training programs designed to prepare students for certification specifically as assisted living facility managers are available in some states, often through community colleges. These programs don't generally lead to an award but may confer continuing education units. Programs typically cover ALF client services, human resources, leadership, office management and finance topics. They prepare individuals for entry-level work in the field but sometimes are also designed to meet the needs of practicing professionals in need of updated skills training.
Management training might require students to be at least 16 or in some states 21, and GED or high school diploma is preferred.
The coursework in an ALF training program covers management techniques and regulatory standards. Students delve into long-term care law, organization and management, as well as current issues in resident care. Programs may cover:
- Aging processes
- Assessments for admission and discharge
- Financial management principles
- Community resources
- Ethical and legal standards
- Working with residents and their families
Bachelor's Degree in Health Administration with a Concentration in Long-Term Care
While a few schools may offer a bachelor's degree in long-term care administration, most programs offer assisted living or long-term care administration studies as a concentration through health administration or related degree programs. Bachelor's degree candidates study end-of-life issues, care management techniques and hospitality services. Programs usually require a practicum or internship.
Some programs emphasize business courses more than others. Course topics related to long-term care of the elderly might cover:
- Caring for those with dementia
- Factors in aging
- Long-term care alternatives
- Long-term care regulations
- Operational decisions in healthcare facilities
- Assisted living philosophy
Graduate Certificate in Long-Term Care
Certificate programs in long-term care at the graduate level may be designed for candidates seeking entry into the field, as well as practicing professionals. Programs typically consist of approximately four to five courses and require completion of around 12-18 credits. Some may include a practicum. Graduate certificate programs require a bachelor's degree for admission.
Students complete required health administration courses and may also need to complete electives in the subject area or related business management courses. Some possible topics of study include:
- Perspectives on aging
- Nonprofit organization management
- Healthcare laws
- Healthcare policies
- Financial management in healthcare settings
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that jobs for medical and health services managers would grow 17% from 2014-2024, which was much faster than average (www.bls.gov). These workers took in a median salary of $94,500 per year in May 2015.
Continuing Education and Licensure Information
ALF administrators are required to have a license in some states; these states may require or optionally use the residential care/assisted living (RC/AL) administrator exam from the National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards, or NAB (www.nabweb.org). Individuals in other states may also take NAB's assisted living administrator exam voluntarily to indicate competency.
States requiring the exam set their own minimum standards, but bottom-line NAB requirements include completion of a state-approved training course as well as either a high school diploma and two years of work experience in assisted living, an associate's degree plus one year of work experience or a bachelor's degree and six months of work experience. Completion of continuing education credits is necessary to maintain licensure. Some bachelor's degree and graduate certificate programs in long-term care may also apply to state requirements for licensure in nursing home administration.
Master's degree programs in long-term care management are also available. Credits from graduate certificate programs in long-term care may be applicable to relevant master's degree programs in gerontology and other areas.
Popular Career Options
In addition to assisted living facilities, other possible places of employment open to those holding a bachelor's degree in long-term care administration include:
- Adult day care facilities
- Retirement communities
- Nursing homes
Students wanting to enter a career in ALF administration may want to pursue in Bachelor's Degree in Health Administration with a concentration in long-term care; if they already have a bachelor's degree, a graduate certificate in ALF administration will prepare them for licensure. Individuals already employed in the field may seek an assisted living management training program or a graduate certificate to meet continued education requirements.