In every state, nursing home administrators must be licensed, but just a few states require licensing of assisted living facility administrators. Licensing requires meeting education requirements and passing an exam. Professional certification is optional for both types of administrators.
Long term care administrators oversee facilities, such as nursing care facilities and assisted living facilities. Nursing care facilities, including nursing homes, provide round-the-clock skilled nursing, while assisted living facilities provide help for residents with the basic activities of daily life. Certification is voluntary for long term care administrators, but state licensure is required for administrators of nursing care facilities.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree; pre-licensure or administrator-in-training courses offered by community colleges and 4-year colleges and universities|
|Exam Requirements||Pass tests administered by the National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards|
|Licensure & Certification||License required in all states; 20 to 50 credits of continuing education required annually; optional certification for licensed Nursing Home Administrators|
|Job Outlook (2014-2024)||17% for all medical and health services managers*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$94,500 for all medical and health services managers*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Licensure Information for Long Term Care Administrators
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), all 50 states require administrators at long term care facilities that provide nursing care, including nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities, to earn a bachelor's degree and pass a state licensure exam (www.bls.gov). A few states require that non-nursing care facility administrators, such as assisted living and residential care administrators, obtain a license.
The National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards (NAB) sets the standards to which states test potential long term care administrators, residential care administrators and assisted living administrators (www.nabweb.org). Once licensed, most care administrators must earn 20-50 continuing education credits annually to maintain their license. Licensure requirements vary by the state, so it is important to check with the local licensing board to determine state-specific requirements.
To prepare for licensing, aspiring long term care administrators may choose to enroll in a pre-licensure or administrator-in-training course offered by community colleges, 4-year colleges and universities. These programs may result in a certificate. A few colleges and universities offer undergraduate and graduate degree programs in long term care administration that are designed to meet varying state licensing requirements.
Certification Information for Long Term Care Administrators
Certification for long term care administrators is voluntary. The American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA) offers certification for nursing home administrators and for assisted living administrators (www.achca.org).
Certification for Nursing Home Administrators
Nursing home administrators applying for ACHCA's Certified Nursing Home Administrator (CNHA) credential must have a bachelor's degree and a current state Nursing Home Administrator license. Applicants must have two years of experience as a nursing home administrator (excluding time as an administrator-in-training), and must have completed 40 hours of relevant continuing education in the two years prior to applying. CNHA certification is valid for five years. To maintain certification, administrators must complete 150 continuing education units every five years.
Certified Assisted Living Administrator
Assisted living administrators are eligible to take the Certified Assisted Living Administrator (CALA) credential exam once they have completed ACHCA's experience and education requirements. Administrators who have passed the NAB's residential care and assisted living exam only need two years of experience and 40 hours of continuing education credits to be eligible to take the CALA exam.
Nursing home administrators need to pass a state exam for licensure in order to work in the United States. Some states require that administrators of assisted living facilities be licensed as well. Certification is voluntary, and for both nursing home administrators and certified living administrators, requires 2 years of experience and 40 hours of relevant continued education.