How to Become a Healthcare Administrator

Learn how to become a healthcare administrator. Research the job description and education and licensing requirements, and find out how to start a career in healthcare administration. View article »

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  • 0:05 Healthcare…
  • 1:12 Earn a Bachelor's Degree
  • 2:14 Earn a Master's Degree
  • 3:08 Acquire State Licensure
  • 3:30 Consider Voluntary…

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Video Transcript

Healthcare Administrator Overview

Healthcare administrators, also known as medical and health services managers, work on behalf of medical institutions or healthcare companies to provide quality care and coordinate services in medical settings. Healthcare administrators might work with one or more assistant administrators, and they sometimes work closely with physicians and nurses. Depending on the size of the facility, a healthcare administrator might manage the entire facility or a department. He or she might work for a hospital, home healthcare organization, or long-term care nursing facility. These professionals might need to work weekend and evening shifts at facilities that are open 24 hours a day.

Degree Level A bachelor's degree is required; most healthcare managers hold a master's degree
Degree Field Healthcare administration, health services, long-term care administration, public administration, or other related discipline
Experience 2 to 5 years of experience most common among employers
Licensure and Certification Licensure required in all states for nursing care facility administrators and in some states for assisted living facility administrators; voluntary certifications available
Key Skills Detail-oriented; analytical, communication, problem-solving, technical, and interpersonal skills
Salary (2015) $106,070 per year (mean annual wage for medical and health services managers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Health Information Management Association, Online Job Postings (July to August 2015), (July 2015)

Let's find out how to become a healthcare administrator.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

A bachelor's degree program in healthcare administration or a related discipline, such as health services, long-term care administration, or public administration, can provide foundational knowledge and training for entry-level management positions within the healthcare industry. Coursework and practical experience teach business skills, such as human resources management and accounting, as they relate to medical or healthcare institutions. Healthcare administration programs often include internship opportunities to provide students with practical experience. Typically, a bachelor's degree is the minimum educational requirement for this field.

Aspiring healthcare administrators should begin to think about graduate-level education while completing their bachelor's degree programs. Some graduate programs may have specific prerequisites for admission, such as competence with statistics. Researching these requirements will allow students to select the necessary courses to qualify for their desired graduate program.

Step 2: Earn a Master's Degree

Master's-level fields of study, such as health systems administration, can qualify graduates for healthcare administrator and management jobs. Like bachelor's degree programs, master's degree programs require students to complete coursework in a number of subjects, including strategic planning, economics, and leadership. Graduate students must also complete field studies in a hospital or healthcare-related environment through required residencies. These programs typically take 2 to 3 years to complete and may be offered full- or part-time.

While completing a master's degree program, students might benefit from getting involved with student organizations. Some graduate schools have student societies for those studying healthcare administration. These can provide learning and networking opportunities for students and working professionals.

Step 3: Acquire State Licensure

A license isn't required for most healthcare management staff. However, all states require administrators of nursing care facilities to test for state licensure, and some regulate assisted living center managers as well. Regular continuing education is required to maintain such licenses.

Step 4: Consider Voluntary Certification

The American Health Information Management Association offers voluntary certification for healthcare administrators. Possessing a Registered Health Information Administrator credential can demonstrate an applicant's proficiency in such areas as data management, informatics, and management. Applicants must be a graduate of an accredited bachelor's degree program in a health management field or an approved post-baccalaureate academic program. To maintain certification, healthcare administrators need to complete required continuing education obligations, usually every two years.

In summary, healthcare administrators typically need a minimum of a bachelor's degree in healthcare administration or a related field. Some healthcare administration positions, including those with nursing care facilities, require state licensure. A master's degree and voluntary certification could help healthcare administrators stand out in their field.

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