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How to Become a Healthcare Manager: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Learn how to become a healthcare manager. Research the education and career requirements, training and common job duties, as well as the experience required for starting a career in the healthcare management field.

Should I Become a Healthcare Manager?

Health services managers, also known as healthcare managers, serve administrative or leadership roles in health care facilities. They may run a single department or an entire facility. These professionals may work at hospitals, healthcare organizations, nursing care facilities or government organizations. Most health services managers keep full-time schedules and may need to work weekends, evenings and holidays.

Bachelor's degrees can open doors into this field, but master's degrees are generally required for advancement into roles with more responsibility. Graduate students pursuing healthcare management roles usually earn a master's degree in public health or health administration. Joining a professional organization might also increase an applicant's job opportunities. Below, you'll find some of the basic requirements needed to work as a healthcare manager.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree is standard; some employers require a master's degree
Degree Field Health services, business, nursing or liberal arts for bachelor's; public health or health administration for master's
Training Though not required, volunteering or interning at a hospital, nursing center or health organization can be beneficial
Key Skills Leadership, administrative, communication & relationship management, knowledge of healthcare and business skills
Salary $64,162 per year (Median salary from 2015 for all healthcare administrators)

Sources: Payscale.com, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Do Research

Talk to healthcare managers, read articles on the Internet and consult the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to obtain an overview of the profession. Volunteer in a healthcare facility or shadow a healthcare manager to observe the day-to-day duties that make up this job. Discuss the career move with a guidance counselor who can then recommend appropriate schools.

Step 2: Obtain a Bachelor's Degree

A bachelor's degree is essential to becoming a healthcare manager. It is usually sufficient for some entry-level positions in administration, some senior-level jobs in smaller facilities and for a few middle-management positions in large organizations. Several schools offer undergraduate programs with health services management majors. The Association of University Programs in Health Administration has a database of certified undergraduate programs. A major in health services, however, is not necessary; business, nursing or liberal arts degrees are also acceptable. It is common for medical professionals, including nurses and physicians, to enter healthcare management positions.

Step 3: Join a Professional Organization

To jump-start your career, consider joining a professional organization while still a student. Professional organizations often have job banks and provide members with access to working professionals. The American College of Healthcare Executives, for example, offers a student associate membership level.

Step 4: Obtain a Master's Degree

Once you've gained some work experience, attend a master's degree program. Master's degrees are generally required for advancement into higher paying opportunities with more responsibilities. The Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education recommends various accredited programs in health administration. Historically, the chosen route for students was the master's degree in public health or health administration. Graduate degree programs in business and public administration with specialization in health services management are also acceptable. Students may opt for a joint degree in both business administration and public health or law and healthcare management. Master's programs generally take two years to complete. Master's degrees are very beneficial for career advancement in this field.

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