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.

Should I Become a Nursing Home Administrator?

Nursing home administrators manage the operations of a nursing home or assisted-living facility that cares for elderly, physically or mentally-challenged residents. They oversee admissions, medical and health services, budgetary concerns and staff members. Many nursing home administrators must be available to work on-call. Evening, weekends and holiday work hours may also be required.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree; master's degree also common
Degree Field Public health, health administration, health management or long-term care administration
Licensure and Certification Licensure required in all states; voluntary certification available
ExperienceUsually 2 to 5 years in clinical and managerial settings
Key Skills Analytical, technical, problem solving, interpersonal and communication skills, detail-oriented, knowledge of personnel management, ability to use medical software
Salary $80,588 (2015 median salary for all nursing home administrators)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Online Job Postings (July to August 2015), O*NET OnLine, (July 2015).

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. 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 by earning a master's.

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.

Step 4: Obtain Certification to Stand Out

Although not required, obtaining certification can help nursing home administrators stand out among other licensed professionals. Certification options include the Certified Nursing Home Administrator CNHA) and Certified Assisted-Living Administrator CALA) designations offered by the American College of Health Care Administrators. The typical requirements for both certifications include having a state license, a bachelor' s degree, at least two years of experience as an administrator and 40 hours of continuing education training. Both the CNHA and CALA credentials are effective for five years.

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