The medical field is in need of individuals who possess corporate management, leadership, communication skills, and knowledge of the healthcare industry to fill the role of a healthcare administrator. Those with a medical background may find this profession appealing, and online associate degree programs make it possible for individuals to pursue a career in this field at their own pace.
Jobs for healthcare management professionals are available from entry-level to C-Suite positions, with the typical hourly wage for a healthcare management graduate being $50 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021). This further increases as professionals gain more experience or training. In this guide, you will learn how to get your career started in the healthcare management sector, including various admission and skill requirements for healthcare administration degree programs, potential salary in different career stages, and even financial aid options.
Based on the healthcare administration definition, the degree prepares students for competencies in healthcare delivery systems, health care providers' daily operations, and the role of money in healthcare. Graduates with a bachelor's in health management should have an understanding of how key choices are made, how to communicate with stakeholders, and how teams in healthcare are managed.
Most programs include the following courses and subject areas:
A majority of healthcare administration graduates are in positions of leadership, helping to enhance the delivery of healthcare services. They are well-versed in the administration and management abilities required for senior roles.
Jobs for those with degrees in public health, health services management, medical records and health information technologist, human resources manager, and training and development management are increasingly in demand these days. Those trained in healthcare administration are found in different work settings, including both traditional and mental healthcare facilities, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and drug treatment centers.
The typical healthcare administration degree tuition cost largely depends on the current average tuition fee, which is around $20,500 per year in public institutions and about $44,000 per year in private colleges.
Just like any degree, fees vary depending on the institution, especially for in-state and out-of-state students. Similarly, you should consider other fees such as textbooks, accommodation, and other miscellaneous fees. Outlined below are the average annual tuition fees for healthcare administration degree programs.
|Public In-State||Public Out-of-State||Private|
|Associate Degree||From $15,000||From $25,000||From $35,000|
|Bachelor's Degree||$24,000 - $54,000||$35,000 - $54,000||$29,000 - $56,000|
|Master's Degree||$12,000 - $30,000||$16,000 to $50,000||$15,000 - $80,000|
|Doctoral Degree||From $30,000||From $30,000||From $50,000|
|*Values are estimates.|
Those seeking challenging, meaningful work in a growing industry can enjoy a long-term career in healthcare administration. The aging U.S. population and baby boomers' continued need for health services as they age require more medical institutions to care for them. This means the industry is currently seeking more administrators to run healthcare operations.
The healthcare administration field is developing quickly, with a median salary that provides lots of room for advancement. And there are a lot of great opportunities for individuals who are wanting to improve professionally.
Healthcare institutions in both public and private sectors are continuously growing. The changing laws, policies, systems, and even technology mean the industry is growing. Hospitals, clinics, public offices, and other health institutions need people with a multitude of skills that are often offered by healthcare administration degree programs.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that the number of healthcare administration careers will increase by 18% between 2019 and 2029 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021). Compared to the national average, the number of additional jobs will total 71,600 at the end of that period.
The widespread uptick in growth means healthcare administration jobs are needed in most, if not all, states. With additional experience and expertise in specific areas, you will increase your chance of finding a job in the industry.
Medical and health services managers will see a rise in employment of 32% between 2019 and 2029, compared to the typical growth for all occupations (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021). There should be greater demand for healthcare services as a result of the aging baby-boom population and the fact that many individuals continue to be active as they age. As such, educational institutions are looking to fill this demand by offering flexible distance learning options that fit the needs of working professionals. And, today, it is quite a popular choice among them to earn their healthcare administration degree online.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Labor
Healthcare administration degree jobs cover a wide range of specialties. Through coursework and academic training, graduates of healthcare administration programs obtain skills within the intersection of allied medicine and business administration.
A typical manager in the medical and health services industry makes an annual salary of $101,340 in 2021 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021). For the lowest 10% of income earners, the median was $59,980. Meanwhile, for the wealthiest 10%, the median was $195,630.
Similarly, hospital employees may expect to earn a median of $108,730 per year, outpatient facility employees can earn $92,390 per year, and physician's office employees can earn $90,920 per year.
A degree in healthcare administration provides a multitude of opportunities, especially future management roles. Study programs for the field of study are quite diverse as well. Below are the healthcare administration degree types you can take if you plan to follow this career path.
Average time to complete: One to two years
Associate programs for health administration offer an introduction to the field. Students in a healthcare administration curriculum are prepared for roles in medical billing, transcribing, and coding, depending on the coverage and goals of the program.
Training and experience in these programs open various opportunities in both the academe as well as in the public and private sectors. Those in an associate curriculum may also transfer to a full-time four-year program, depending on the institution.
Typically, an associate degree in healthcare administration involves 60 credits and takes about two years. Several institutions offer an online healthcare administration associate degree option, with all or part of the program taking place remotely. Students often take courses in introductory health informatics, healthcare delivery systems, healthcare terminology, and healthcare administration. Most programs also include subjects in I.T., business administration, and communication.
Entry-level jobs: Program coordinator, Patient coordinator, Support specialist
Average time to complete: Four years
A bachelor's degree in healthcare administration focuses on managerial, administrative, research, human resources, and legal facets of the field. On average, 120 credits are required for a bachelor's in healthcare administration, which takes around four years to finish.
After fulfilling the requirements of the program, graduates can begin working in numerous areas in health administration. Additional training and experience will also provide opportunities for better positions and job specializations.
Students may elect to concentrate on quality assurance and management, data analysis, health informatics, research, and human resources in these programs. They acquire the necessary abilities to qualify for management or supervision jobs in the health sector.
Entry-level jobs: Health information manager, Clinic administrator, Healthcare human resources staff
Average time to complete: Two years
A master's program in healthcare administration draws on the basic curricula acquired from a bachelor's program and includes a thorough analysis of strategic planning, health legislation and policies, computer technology, and finance.
Non-clinical leadership jobs in healthcare can be gained by obtaining an advanced degree in healthcare administration. Graduates are qualified to take up professions, such as health managers and medicine managers.
For a master's degree in healthcare administration, students generally need 30 credits and two years to finish their studies. Health policy and legislation, strategic human resource management, healthcare quality, and improvement, and global health and diversity are some of the topics included in the coursework. Experiential learning, such as internships, is typically included in many educational programs. This even remains a standard for many online masters healthcare administration programs.
Entry-level jobs: Health services or hospital administrator, Department or academic program administrator, Health center director
Average time to complete: Three to seven years
Postgraduate degree programs usually attract those seeking high-level careers in research or teaching professions in healthcare administration. Some colleges offer doctorate students online alternatives in the field of health management. The length of the program varies depending on the institution and professional objectives, but it generally lasts three to seven years.
Students pursuing a Ph.D. in healthcare management study courses, such as quantitative reasoning and analysis, advanced qualitative reasoning and analysis, developing a multidisciplinary approach to health, and advanced mixed-methods reasoning and analysis. In addition, students must prepare and defend a dissertation to contribute to the current literature in the field.
Entry-level jobs: Professor, Consultant, C-level executive
Healthcare administration degree prerequisites will vary depending on the institution and the program you pick. Each school establishes its own admission requirements for programs and college or university admission. Additionally, there are healthcare administration degree skills that you need to prepare for college-level coursework.
High school diploma or equivalent
Most colleges and universities require applicants to have finished four years of the high school curriculum, which means a graduation certificate or diploma. Similarly, passing high school equivalency exams are accepted, such as TASC, HiSET, and GED.
ACT or SAT scores
ACT and SAT scores are typical parts of preparing for college admissions. While colleges and universities do not filter applicants based on these scores, programs may use it to determine strong candidates. An ACT score of 23 will make you a viable applicant for a healthcare administration program (TPR Education I.P. Holdings, LLC., n.d.). However, for selective and highly competitive institutions, you will need a score of above 30 (Moody, 2021).
Similarly, the national average for SAT is about 1070, which is good enough for non-competitive schools (TPR Education I.P. Holdings, LLC., n.d.-b). But, you should aim for at least 1200 if you are planning on attending an educational institution with thousands of applicants. For example, the total average SAT score at Boston University is 1420.
Source: American College Testing
Most bachelor's programs in healthcare administration do not have a specific GPA requirement, but it is a good idea to maintain at least a 2.0 or better. College GPA matters more as it qualifies students for financial aid, scholarships, and potential graduate degree applications. Experts say that students should aim for a 3.0 for higher to fulfill graduation requirements.
A key part of healthcare administration coursework is analyzing statistics, data, and other insights. This includes interpreting information and forming conclusions based on evidence. Experience and training in these skills through STEM subjects will become valuable in college.
Leadership and management
As early as the bachelor's level, students are trained in managing and working with other people through projects and internships. The need for leadership skills increases in the graduate and postgraduate levels when most students are planning or currently in managerial positions. While there are no specific high school courses required to acquire these skills, significant group projects, and extracurricular activities may serve as proof of competency.
Most, if not all, hospital and healthcare management processes now have deep integration with information systems in the form of applications, platforms, and enterprise-level systems. Good familiarity with these subject areas will be beneficial not only during college but after graduation as well. Hospitals and other healthcare institutions commonly use solutions for customer relationship management (CRM), electronic health records (EHR), and even custom-made hospital management systems (HMS). The healthcare industry is also at the forefront of innovation, such as using blockchain, automation, A.I., and more.
Similarly, you are expected to test, evaluate, and eventually use new technologies in hospital management. According to a 2018 study titled "Smart Healthcare Administration Over Cloud," cloud computing is becoming essential to scaling the healthcare sector.
"The medical and health information system based on cloud computing is desired, to realize the sharing of medical data and health information, coordination of clinical service, along with the effective and cost-containment clinical information system infrastructure via the implementation of a distributed and high-integrated platform," the authors said (Govinda & Ramasubbareddy, 2018). Cloud computing includes the utilization of mobile devices and IoT to improve diagnosis, treatment, patient care, operations, and administration.
Similarly, big data will eventually be a part of both research and running healthcare institutions, according to the study "Big Data Applications in Healthcare Administration" (Kasten, 2020).
"The healthcare industry has a growing record of using big data-related technologies, such as data analytics, internet of things, and machine learning, especially in the clinical areas," according to the research published in the International Journal of Big Data and Analytics in Healthcare.
Furthermore, the research notes that "healthcare has begun to apply these same technologies to improve their understanding of these internal operations and use them to make better decisions and run a more effective operation." It highlights the need for I.T. and technical skills, specifically data processing and analysis.
A career in health administration can give a lifetime of rewarding work in a fast-paced industry. In the healthcare sector, technology, innovation, and an aging population are the drivers indicating growth potential. While you have numerous options, you must start your journey towards healthcare administration with the right program.
A rapidly increasing customer base has led policymakers to reconsider medical services, focusing on preventative medicine as a catalyst for enhanced community well-being. This leads to providing possibilities for administrative health professionals to implement novel reforms.
Changes are now being driven by managed care programs and organizational mergers, as healthcare workers learn how to accomplish more with less. Organizations expand the tasks and responsibilities that administrators must embrace as the medical sector advances. As such, the industry needs specializations such as:
Programmatic accreditation generally entails the examination of individual programs, departments, or schools within an institution. It might also refer to a university's college or a program within a department. For example, a business college inside a university may be authorized by a separate organization to certify a healthcare college within the same institution.
For instance, the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) is the recommended accreditation body for health management programs. And, the Accreditation Association of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International) is the highest standard for MBA programs with a healthcare specialization.
Most colleges and universities offer federal loans within their financial aid programs. For example, the Federal Perkins Loan is available to financially needy undergraduate and graduate students. Scholarships are also available such as:
Healthcare management is an increasingly in-demand career option due to various changes in the industry, from technological innovation to improving patient care. High school graduates can choose from numerous healthcare administration degree programs offered in most colleges and universities.
Even professionals in the allied medicine industry can attend advanced training in the field, which opens them to managerial and higher positions in hospitals and similar institutions. Most skills and competencies learned in these programs are transferable to other careers as well.
However, if you feel that healthcare administration is not for you, there are still plenty of other options you can choose from. Take a look at this guide to choosing a university course to get ideas on what degree programs you may pursue.