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Healthcare Administrator Careers

Healthcare administrators, also known as healthcare executives or health services managers, are responsible for the daily operations of a healthcare facility. These professionals perform duties such as supervising assistant administrators, creating work schedules for employees at a healthcare organization, managing a facility's finances and ensuring patients receive quality care. In addition, these professionals are responsible for keeping abreast of healthcare laws that affect the way they do business, and attending meetings organized by healthcare governing boards.

Healthcare administrator jobs are generally found at nursing homes, outpatient care facilities, home health facilities, physicians' offices, and hospitals according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). These professionals work full-time, typically, and may be called into work to handle emergencies or scheduled to work during nights and weekends.

How to Become a Healthcare Administrator

Healthcare administrator careers generally require a bachelor's degree or higher in health administration or a related field, and some employers may require graduate education reports the BLS. Master's programs can be a good option for those with bachelor's degrees in another subject, current healthcare workers seeking management roles, or business managers who wish to transfer to the healthcare field.

Although employment cannot be guaranteed, the following steps represent one possible pathway toward healthcare administrator jobs.

  1. Obtain a high school diploma or the equivalent.
  2. Earn a bachelor's degree in health administration
  3. Pursue a graduate degree, such as an MBA with a concentration in health administration or a master's in health administration.
  4. Successfully complete a licensing examination if required by the state. For example, those who are interested in working at nursing homes or assisted living facilities may be required to obtain a license.
  5. Apply for a healthcare management position.
  6. Gain professional certification, which can help demonstrate expertise in healthcare administration. These certifications are generally not mandatory, but they may aid in career or salary advancement.
  7. Keep knowledge and skills current by completing continuing education courses and renewing certification/licensure as needed.

Post-Education Requirements: Certifications and/or State Licensing

Although generally not mandatory, some healthcare administrators may be required to obtain a license in order to get employment. In addition, those who wish to advance in their careers may be interested in pursuing professional certifications awarded by associations in the field. The following are just a few of the organizations that certify healthcare administrators:

  • American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management (AAHAM): This organization offers certifications in the financial services and compliance aspects of healthcare administration. Certifications include Certified Revenue Cycle Executive (CRCE), Certified Revenue Cycle Professional (CRCP), Certified Revenue Cycle Specialist (CRCS), and Certified Compliance Technician (CCT).
  • National Association of Healthcare Access Management (NAHAM): The NAHAM offers the Certified Healthcare Access Manager (CHAM) and Certified Healthcare Access Associate credentials, which are designed to recognize those who demonstrate high professional standards in patient access management services.
  • Medical Group Management Association (MGMA): The MGMA offers the Certified Medical Practice Executive (CMPE) credential for professionals who demonstrate expertise in managing a medical practice, as well as the knowledge and skills associated with delivering quality healthcare to patients.

Healthcare administrators may be required to complete continuing education courses in order to renew their professional certification.

Healthcare Administrator Specialties

The BLS reports that there are several specialties that those in the healthcare administration industry can pursue. These specialties include:

  • Assistant Administrators: Assistant administrators make the day-to-day decisions for large healthcare facilities in areas such as surgical therapy, medical records and nursing.
  • Clinical Managers: Clinical managers are responsible for the policies, procedures and goals of a specific department in a healthcare facility -- such as physical therapy, nursing or surgery departments.
  • Nursing Home Administrators: Nursing home administrators are responsible for taking care of all areas of a nursing home, including managing staff, finances and patient care.
  • Health Information Managers: These professionals oversee the security and maintenance of patient records and are responsible for updating patient record systems.

Healthcare Administrator Job Growth and Average Salary

According to the BLS, the healthcare administration field is on the rise. In fact, between 2010 and 2020, healthcare administrator jobs are expected to grow by 22 percent nationally, which the agency reports is much faster than the average for most occupations. This growth is attributed to several causes, including the fact that baby boomers are getting older and more and more people are remaining active through their senior years. As a result, healthcare managers will be needed to oversee the medical care of these populations, and meet the increased need for nursing care and the management of medical information. In May 2012, healthcare administrators earned a median national annual salary of $88,580, with the top 10 percent of professionals in the field earning more than $150,560 and the bottom 10 percent earning less than $53,940 per year. Salary can vary based on factors such as location, employer and experience.

List of Related Careers

Those interested in the healthcare administration field may also want to consider similar careers such as:

  • Nurse Administrator: Oversees other nurses, helping coordinate patient care and providing other administrative contributions. Nurse administrators typically begin their careers as registered nurses and retain their nursing license.
  • Social and Community Service Manager: Organizes and directs community programs, supervises staff, participates in fundraising campaigns, gathers data to analyze a program's effectiveness and performs similar administrative functions.  

These and other related careers may require additional education, training, certification or licensure.

Links to Sources and Associations

View the following websites to learn more about healthcare administrator training and careers:

American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management, http://www.aaham.org/

American College of Health Care Administrators, http://www.achca.org/

American College of Healthcare Executives, http://www.ache.org/

American Health Information Management Association, http://www.ahima.org/

Medical and Health Services Managers, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Management/Medical-and-health-services-managers.htm

Medical and Health Services Managers, May 2012 Occupational Employment and Wages, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes119111.htm

Medical Group Management Association, http://www.mgma.com/

National Association of Healthcare Access Management, http://www.naham.org/