Career Definition for a Health Care Administrator
Health care administrators manage the business of health care. They establish and maintain budgets, recruit and supervise personnel, and ensure compliance with state and federal regulations. In larger settings, like hospitals, a top-level health care administrator may focus on long-term goals and policy-making for the entire facility, while assistant administrators oversee the financial, personnel, and management issues of specific departments. In smaller facilities like medical offices and nursing homes, health care administrators are often directly involved in day-to-day operations, from finance and marketing to the coordination of patient care programs.
|Education||Bachelor's or master's degree in public health or nursing, hospital or business administration|
|Job Skills||Interpersonal skills, leadership, organization, problem solving|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$94,500 (all medical and health services managers)|
|Job Growth (2014-2024)*||17% (all medical and health services managers)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Many higher-level health care administration executives have a master's degree in a field such as public health or business, hospital or nursing administration. A bachelor's degree is often sufficient for entry-level positions, or for employment with smaller facilities when coupled with relevant health care experience.
Certification and Licensing
Health care administrators who work as nursing home administrators must also pass the National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards (NAB) exam and obtain state licensure. Health care administrators in other sectors are not required to be licensed; however, voluntary certification is available through the American College of Healthcare Administrators (www.achca.org).
Health care administration requires strong analytical and communication skills in addition to leadership ability and business savvy. An administrator must be able to make decisions and delegate authority, while managing all levels of medical and administrative personnel. He or she must be able to establish goals, analyze data, make evaluations, and create policy to maintain consistent standards of patient care among departments. A health care administrator must also be a good negotiator and have the ability to build relationships with government agencies, unions, and community organizations.
Career and Economic Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts faster than average growth in the area of health care management over the next several years, with hospitals continuing to employ the largest number of managers and administrators (www.bls.gov). The BLS predicts 17% job growth for health care administrators and managers for the 2014-2024 period. Health care administration is highly competitive, but job prospects should be strongest for candidates with clinical and managerial experience in health care, as well as an advanced degree in hospital administration or a related field. The BLS reports that 2015 annual earnings in the 10th-90th percentile range for health care administrators ranged from $56,230 to $165,380.
Alternative Career Options
Anyone seeking to become a health care administrator may consider occupations in human resources and social services, working as a human resources manager or social and community service manager.
Human Resources Manager
A human resources manager works closely with the management team of an organization to determine what kind of workforce an organization needs and how best to hire and train those workers. Human resources managers also provide a bridge between employees and management for the purposes of conflict resolution. Additional roles can include employee benefits programs, employee development, and payroll management. A human resources manager usually has a bachelor's or master's degree in human resources or a related field, or a Master of Business Administration degree; work experience is typically required. Voluntary professional certification can make a candidate more desirable. Jobs for human resources managers are expected to increase 9% from 2014-2024, per the BLS. Human resources managers earned median pay of $104,440 in 2015.
Social and Community Service Manager
A social and community service manager holds a leadership role within an organization that provides social and related services, such as a government agency or nonprofit organization. Duties can include program development and evaluation, outreach, budgeting, and management of employees. Jobs usually require at least a bachelor's degree in a field like social work or public administration and relevant work experience. Social and community service managers can look forward to an employment increase of 10% from 2014-2024, according to the BLS. The BLS also reported that social and community service managers earned median pay of $63,530 in 2015.