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How to Become a Healthcare Administrator

Duties, Responsibilities, Schooling, Requirements, Certifications, Job Outlook, and Salary

African-American woman in front of a whiteboard

A career in healthcare administration is an ideal fit for natural leaders and organizers who love the idea of overseeing complex systems and keeping everything running smoothly. It’s a fantastic way to earn a great living in a rewarding field, where you’re making a real difference by improving people’s lives.

Continue reading this career guide to learn about becoming a healthcare administrator, including the educational requirements, certifications, day-to-day duties, and how long it generally takes to launch your new career.

(Click here to see our list of the best entry-level medical jobs).

Healthcare Administrator Definition?

What is a Healthcare Administrator?

Healthcare administrators are the logistical leaders and organizers of a medical facility. They may oversee an outpatient office, a specific department in a larger facility, or even an entire healthcare system that spans multiple facilities in different locations. They’re likely to work closely with doctors, nurses, medical and clinical lab techs, and potentially with patients or insurance company representatives.

Healthcare Administrator: Job Description

What Does a Healthcare Administrator Do?

For every patient treated successfully, there’s a team of people working behind the scenes to ensure the healthcare facility is adequately staffed, planning ahead to handle a specific volume of patients, and up-to-date on all the latest compliance regulatory requirements.

Healthcare Administrator Duties

Some of the day-to-day responsibilities of Healthcare Administrators include:

  • Finding ways to help facilities deliver quality care more efficiently
  • Tracking and organizing critical data, like the facility’s treatment capacity
  • Developing and overseeing departmental budgets
  • Hiring, training, and supervising employees in various departments
  • Ensuring a facility stays compliant with all relevant laws and regulations
  • Managing a facility’s finances—billing and patient fees, for example

Healthcare Administrator Skills

To thrive as a healthcare administrator, you’ll need analytical and organizational skills to dive into the details of a facility’s operations. You’ll also need the interpersonal and communication skills to listen to your colleagues and understand their concerns. The best healthcare administrators are often those who can find a balance between problem-solving and people-pleasing.

Healthcare Administrator Hours & Work Environment

Most healthcare administrators work a full-time, 40-hour workweek, though some administrators may work longer hours when necessary. Depending on the operating hours of the facility at which they work, some healthcare administrators may be scheduled to work nights and weekends or need to remain on-call for emergencies that may arise.

Healthcare Administrator Schooling & Certification

How Long Does it Take to Become a Healthcare Administrator?

What Degree Do You Need to Be a Healthcare Administrator?

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Most healthcare administrator jobs typically require at least a bachelor’s degree. Traditionally, that’s means a four-year degree program, though some healthcare administrator programs can be completed in as little as 120 weeks. While a bachelor’s degree can certainly get your foot in the door in this career field, higher-level or executive positions may require a master’s degree. Master’s degrees typically take 2-3 years, though some programs can be finished as quickly as 60 weeks.

Any goal seems more attainable when you break it down into individual steps—and starting a new career is no exception.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to the education, experience, and certifications you’ll need to become a healthcare administrator:

1. Enroll in a healthcare administration degree program.

Even if it’s been a while since you’ve been in school, many bachelor’s degree programs are available from accredited colleges that specialize in helping people launch new careers. To enroll in the Healthcare Administration program at Brookline College, all you’ll need is a high school diploma or GED, plus a passing score on a Scholastic Level Exam and a separate computer literacy exam.

2. Earn your bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration.

Like any bachelor’s degree program, you’ll need to complete general education requirements like math, science, communications, and philosophy—areas of study that make anybody a more well-rounded professional. You’ll also likely be required to complete coursework in accounting, finance, and economics to prepare you for planning and managing budgets and take classes that focus on management and leadership skills—all must-haves for successful healthcare administrators.

In terms of your specific area of study, you’ll also gain practical knowledge of the healthcare industry—things like medical terminology, medical laws and ethics, and an overall understanding of how the healthcare industry works. When choosing a healthcare administration degree program, look for one with instructors who are current or former employees in the field, as they’ll be able to share the kind of insights you might not always find in a textbook. Schools with job-placement assistance are also a big help when transitioning from the classroom to your new career and can take a lot of the stress out of a job search.

3. Gain additional certifications to stand out from the competition.

While additional certifications aren’t typically required to work in the field, they can be a great way to demonstrate expertise in the field and stand out during the hiring process. Certifications are available from organizations like the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management, the American Health Information Management Association, and the American College of Health Care Administrators.

4. Pass the NAB boards if you plan to work in a nursing home.

You won’t need a license for most healthcare administrator jobs—with the exception of nursing-home administration roles, which require licensure on a state-by-state basis through the National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards. Core exams are typically 100 questions, with an additional 50 questions related to the specific license you’re seeking. Practice exams are available for a small fee and may be very helpful when it comes time to pass the real thing.

How Much Does it Cost to Earn a Healthcare Administrator Degree?

While some colleges and universities can charge $20,000 and up per semester in tuition alone—not including books, lab fees, or other supplies—the rise in online education has made earning a bachelor’s degree much more affordable for many people. Look for an accredited institution that is straightforward about its tuition rates and any other costs. For example, the Master of Healthcare Administration program at Brookline College can be completed for just over $62,000 total, and that price includes all books and other course materials.

Healthcare Administrator Salaries

How Much Do Healthcare Administrators Make?

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Healthcare administrators are paid quite well. According to the BLS, the average salary works out to around $115,000, while those in the top 10% can bring home up to $189,000 or more.

Highest Paying Industries for Healthcare Administrators

The healthcare administrator jobs with the highest pay tend to be in the research and manufacturing industries, particularly for pharmaceuticals and medical devices.

Industry Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
Pharmaceuticals $98.22 $204,300
Scientific Research & Development $81.36 $169,240
Medical Instrument Manufacturing $76.88 $159,910
Chemical Manufacturing $74.61 $155,180
Specialized Hospitals $61.53 $127,990
General Hospitals $59.70 $124,180
Medical & Diagnostic Labs $58.80 $122,300

Highest Paying States for Healthcare Administrators

Top-paying healthcare administrator jobs tend to be located in heavily populated areas, where medical facilities are usually in higher demand. These are the top-paying states for healthcare administrators according to the BLS:

State Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
Washington, D.C. $72.14 $150,040
New York $70.67 $147,000
Hawaii $64.09 $133,320
California $63.96 $133,040
Massachusetts $63.92 $132,960

Highest Paying Cities for Healthcare Administrators

The following cities pay the highest average salaries to healthcare administrators in the US.

City Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
Santa Cruz, CA $78.50 $163,280
Vallejo, CA $76.53 $159,190
Stamford, CT $74.31 $154,570
Salinas, CA $74.25 $154,440
Hanford, CA $69.88 $145,340
Santa Clara, CA $69.48 $144,530
New York, NY $69.41 $144,370
Janesville, WI $69.20 $143,940
Hayward, CA $68.63 $142,760
Binghamton, NY $68.01 $141,450

What Is the Job Outlook for Healthcare Administrators?

As healthcare systems become larger and more complex, healthcare administration is poised to remain one of the best entry-level medical jobs. By 2029, the BLS projects the employment of healthcare administrators to grow by 32%, which is much higher than the average growth rate across all career fields (4%).

Are You Ready to Start Your Career as a Healthcare Administrator

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A rewarding new career in the medical field is within reach sooner than you might think. Learn more about the healthcare administration bachelor’s degree program at Brookline College, and get started on your way to an exciting new career today.