Career Definition for a Health Administrator
Health administrators manage operations at health care facilities. In smaller settings, they may be hands-on medical office managers, directly involved in daily administrative functions. In larger settings, such as hospitals, they may be top-level executives reporting directly to a governing board and focusing on broader issues, such as department coordination, facilities planning and community relations, while overseeing a team of managers who handle daily operations. Health administrators may also specialize in areas in which they have clinical experience.
|Education||Associate's or bachelor's degree|
|Job Skills||Analytical, interpersonal skills, organization, problem solving|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$98,350 (all health and medical services managers)|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)*||20% (all health and medical services managers)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
A master's degree in public health or business, hospital or nursing administration, is generally required for upper-level health administration positions; however, entry-level positions in smaller facilities can sometimes be obtained with only a bachelor's degree. Nursing home health administrators must also obtain state licensure after passing the National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards, commonly known as the NAB exam. Professionals may also take certification courses through the American College of Healthcare Administrators (www.achca.org).
Careers in health administration require strong management and leadership abilities, as well as analytical and communication skills. Health administrators must be able to resolve issues, supervise staffs and ensure that departments work well together. They must be able to interact with medical personnel and administrative staff, as well as represent the facility to external agencies and communities. They must be able to clarify goals, motivate staff, present ideas and preside over meetings. Depending on the type of facility they work in, health administrators may also need clinical experience in specialized fields, such as nursing, long-term care or mental health.
Career and Economic Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 20% increase in jobs for medical and health services managers between 2016 and 2026. Hospital facilities tend to have large administrative staffs, and many entry-level applicants with master's degrees often start out as assistant department heads or assistant administrators. Salaries vary for health administrators depending on education, experience and employer size. According to the BLS, 2017 median salary information for medical health and services managers was $98,350.
Alternative Career Options
An education in health administration can prepare you for a variety of related occupations, including human resource management and social service management.
Human Resources Manager
Those interested in administration careers who don't want to work in health care may consider working as human resources managers. Human resources (HR) managers are responsible for employee services, benefits and training programs within an organization. While a bachelor's degree is typically the minimum requirement for HR managers, some jobs require a master's degree in human resources management. Professional experience is often a requirement for this job as well.
The median annual salary for HR managers was $110,120 in 2017, according to the BLS. The number of jobs for HR managers is projected to increase by 9% from 2016 to 2026, per the BLS.
Social and Community Service Manager
Social and community service managers direct and manage community education, health and recreation programs. These managers prepare proposals for program funding and determine what programs are needed in an area. The minimum education requirement is a bachelor's degree in social work or a related field, and experience in community services is required.
The BLS reported that the median annual salary for social and community service managers was $64,100 as of May 2017. The BLS projects that his field will grow at a much-faster-than-average rate of 18% from 2016 to 2026.