Healthcare continues to top the list of fastest-growing industries in the nation. The number of jobs within the industry – a seasonally adjusted 19.745 million as of February 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – offer a wide variety of occupations for those looking to work in medicine.
One of the most important roles is taking care of the business side of healthcare. With the need for more efficiency and cost-savings as budgets get tighter and regulations change, qualified healthcare administrators and managers are in more demand than ever.
Projections call for a 20-percent increase in the number of healthcare managers by 2026, according to the BLS. That translates into more than 352,000 people working in the profession.
Salary also is high among healthcare professions. The median annual salary for a healthcare manager was $96,540 in May 2016, with the top 10 percent earning more than $172,000. Salaries vary based on market conditions and geography. Job seekers should conduct their own research.
What Healthcare Administrators Do
Healthcare administrators play a key role in keeping a clinic, hospital or other medical facility running smoothly. They focus on the business and regulatory side of the healthcare industry, which involves both managing costs and improving health outcomes.
Much of the job involves implementing modern technologies, such as electronic healthcare records, that can help make a hospital, clinic, community center or other medical care providers more efficient.
Healthcare managers also focus on regulatory issues – both from the government and the industry – that must be met by all medical organizations.
Administrators can head up an entire operation or a large department. In either case, they will oversee a budget and set overall goals for both spending and medical services. They also manage the hiring and training of new employees, as well as ongoing training for new employee.
Steps Toward Becoming a Healthcare Administrator
Becoming a healthcare administrator or manager requires extensive education.
Bachelor’s degree. Most who enter an administrator or manager job in healthcare typically earn a bachelor’s degree. The major can vary depending on where a student hopes to eventually work. They can include health administration and management, nursing, public health administration or business administration.
Master’s degree. While a bachelor’s degree opens the door to becoming an administrator, the top jobs in the field are usually reserved for those with a graduate degree. Most programs require two to three years of education.
A healthcare administrator needs education and experience in both medical science and business. Some choose to earn a Master of Business Administration degree with a concentration in healthcare. Some may also choose to focus on the technology side, earning a Master of Science in Health Informatics.
Whatever the case, they will learn both the terminology and advanced knowledge of medicine, as well as the business side and the details of regulatory issues surrounding healthcare.
Supervised work. Most graduate degree programs also include a year-long, supervised experience working in hospital administration. Many employers also require years of experience working in healthcare before elevating a person to an administrator or manager role.
Certifications. Depending on the nature of the facility or department they oversee, hospital administrators and managers will need to earn a certification. There are different agencies that oversee certifications for different specialties, including hospitals, nursing homes and social service-focused community centers.
Working as a healthcare administrator or manager is a challenging job, but the rewards are substantial both in terms of pay and job satisfaction. For those with an interest in both business and healthcare, it’s a job that is worth the challenging work needed to attain it.