If a day spent overseeing every facet of a healthcare facility sounds exciting, a position in healthcare administration might be a great fit. If you're wondering how to become a healthcare administrator, it's important to know the top skills, responsibilities, and education you should have to get started on this path. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), prospects for healthcare administrators — also known as medical and health services managers — look good: Employment in the field is expected grow much faster than average, 23 percent, from 2012 through 2022, and the median salary is $88,000, according to 2012 data.1
Healthcare Administrator Job Responsibilities
Healthcare administrators wear many hats and can have a great deal of responsibility. They typically oversee the financial, administrative, hiring, and health and wellness direction of their organization or department. Thirty-nine percent, or the majority of medical and health services managers, work in hospitals, while others may work for nursing homes, group medical practices, and ambulatory healthcare services.2 Day to day, the role can include these responsibilities:
- Conduct and administer fiscal operations
- Direct, supervise and evaluate work activities of medical, nursing, technical, clerical, service, maintenance, and other personnel.
- Maintain communication between governing boards, medical staff, and department heads
- Plan, implement and administer programs and services, including personnel administration, training, and coordination of medical, nursing and physical plant staff
- Direct or conduct recruitment, hiring and training of personnel
- Establish work schedules and assignments for staff, according to workload, space, and equipment availability
- Maintain awareness of advances in medicine, computerized diagnostic and treatment equipment, data processing technology, government regulations, health insurance changes, and financing options
- Monitor the use of diagnostic services, inpatient beds, facilities, and staff to ensure effective use of resources and assess the need for additional staff, equipment, and services
- Develop and maintain computerized record management systems to store and process data such as personnel activities and information, and to produce reports.3
Healthcare administrators must be competent and proficient in many areas. According to a Burning Glass study of national jobs data, the top skills employers are looking for in these roles include those in the areas of public health and safety, patient care, collaboration, account management, program planning and development, and in some cases, fundraising. Strong communication, writing, collaboration, planning and project management skills also are in demand, as is a knowledge of Microsoft Excel.4
Education and Coursework
Because this position requires such a diverse range and aptitude in many skills, the right education and training are essential. Pursuing a Bachelor in Healthcare Management degree is one of the best ways to prepare yourself for this position, as most medical and health services managers have at least a bachelor's degree before entering the field. In such a program, you can learn to:
- Demonstrate an ability to interpret and explain concepts effectively in various healthcare organizations and situations.
- Apply principles of economics and finance to make effective decisions in various healthcare settings for various contemporary healthcare practices and functions.
- Analyze the relationships between costs, quality, and access to healthcare in the United States
- Formulate current operations management practices and principles used in the current healthcare environment.
- Evaluate the types of information and information systems capabilities/technology needed by healthcare organizations.
- Evaluate potential ethical and legal conflicts in healthcare related to legislative and regulatory issues affecting healthcare.
Coursework typically covers topics such as healthcare information systems, financial management, healthcare quality, human resources in healthcare and risk management.
If you're new to the field, working directly with healthcare administrators in a hospital or organization though an internship or entry-level role is one of the best ways to gain experience. For higher-level roles, a master's degree in healthcare management may also be required or a benefit.
If you want more information on how to become a healthcare administrator, set up an informational interview with someone working in the position at your local hospital or clinic to gain more understanding. But to be most prepared, hands-on experience and a degree in the field are a sound path to the position.
Ready to learn more? Explore healthcare management degrees at AIU.
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Medical and Health Services Managers, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm (visited 2/4/15)
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Medical and Health Services Managers, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm (visited 2/4/15)
3. O*Net OnLine, Summary Report for Medical and Health Services Managers, on the Internet at http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/11-9111.00 (visited 2/18/15)
4. Labor/Insight (Burning Glass Technologies), 1/1/13-1/31/13
The presence of specific potential jobs on this list does not guarantee availability of career opportunities. All statistics referenced are national historical averages and the figures in your area and at the time of your job search may be different.