Nursing Home Administrator: Job Duties & Career Info

Learn how to become a nursing home administrator. Research the education requirements, licensure and experience you will need to start a career in the nursing home administration field.

Do I Want to Be a Nursing Home Administrator?

Nursing home administrators manage the operations of a nursing home or assisted care facility and the care of the elderly and physically or mentally challenged residents. They oversee admissions, medical and health services, budgetary concerns and staff members. Many nursing home administrators are available on an on-call basis, and evening, weekend or holiday work hours may be required.

Job Requirements

At least a bachelor's degree is required in order to work as a nursing home administrator, and most of these professionals have several years of experience. Some employers prefer administrators who hold a master's degree. In addition, all nursing home administrators must obtain a state license. The table below shows the main requirements for this profession.

Common Requirements
Degree Level Bachelor's or master's degree*
Degree Field Public health, health administration, health management or long-term care administration*
Licensure Licensure is required in all states*
Experience Experience in a health care setting is necessary, usually 2-5 years in clinical and managerial settings**
Key Skills Must be able to work independently and with a team, plan clinical strategies, resolve conflicts and analyze clinical information**
Computer Skills Medical coding and insurance software programs*
Technical Skills Solid grasp of electronic health record systems*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, ** job postings from June 2012.

Step 1: Earn an Undergraduate Degree

A bachelor's degree program in health administration, health management or a related field can lead to work as a nursing home administrator. These programs combine general education requirements with business and health-related courses. Examples of topics include financial accounting, health law, current issues in health services, statistics and health care delivery. While graduates are often qualified for entry-level positions, they can also continue their education at the graduate level.

Success Tips:

  • Complete an internship. Most bachelor's programs require completion of an internship or practicum. This gives students an opportunity to develop experience in the field.
  • Join a school organization focused on health administration. Many schools host health administration-related student groups, like Upsilon Phi Delta. Members of these groups may network with peers, attend conferences and access industry journals.

Step 2: Develop Experience

Employers often look for nursing home administrators who have experience in a health care setting. An entry-level administration or assistant position can help administrators develop leadership skills and learn how to communicate in the workplace. Additionally, some graduate programs prefer applicants who have experience.

Success Tip:

  • Start developing key skills in the field. It's important to understand how regulations in nursing homes and the health care field are put into action. Learn how to organize information, communicate with co-workers and maintain a schedule.

Step 3: Obtain a Graduate Degree

Master's programs in health services management or administration explore advanced topics in the field. Common courses may include legal issues in health care delivery, quality of care concepts, operations research, health information systems, economic planning and strategic management for health organizations. Most programs culminate in a final project or internship.

Success Tip:

  • Keep your job while earning a degree. Many master's degree programs offer online, weekend and evening classes. Some of these programs are specifically designed for working health care professionals.

Step 4: Get Licensed

While requirements for licensure vary by state, applicants usually need to complete a formal training program, an internship and an exam. Some states may require applicants to have a minimum of 1,000 hours of internship experience, while others require at least 12 months; applicants can verify specific requirements through their state's Department of Health.

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