How to Become a Healthcare Administrator

How to Become a Healthcare Administrator

A medical records technician gaining field experience required to become a healthcare administrator.
When envisioning a thriving healthcare system, we often think primarily of frontline healthcare personnel. But there are also professionals working behind the scenes who make the safe and effective delivery of healthcare possible.

Healthcare administrators play an invaluable role in ensuring hospitals and other healthcare facilities run efficiently. Because they’re tasked with managing and coordinating, the job requires extensive training.

If you’re interested in becoming a thoughtful leader who can positively impact the business operations of healthcare, human resources, the quality of patient care, healthcare policy, and more, this could be a great career path for you. Join us as we outline how to become a healthcare administrator and take a closer look at the role itself.

What does a healthcare administrator do?

Also referred to as health services managers, healthcare administration professionals are responsible for planning, directing, and coordinating the operations of healthcare delivery systems and organizations. Healthcare administrators most commonly work in hospitals, however there is also a need in nursing and residential care facilities, offices of physicians, government organizations, and outpatient care centers.

While the day-to-day duties may vary slightly depending on the work environment, typical responsibilities include the following:

  • Hiring and training staff
  • Managing day to day department operations
  • Managing budgets
  • Improving quality, safety, and efficiency
  • Understanding and implementing healthcare law and policy

Demand is high for skilled professionals who can tackle these duties. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that jobs in this realm are projected to grow 28 percent by 2031, with more than 56,000 new openings annually.

As a healthcare administrator, you can also expect competitive wages. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for health services managers was $101,340 in May 2021 — that’s more than double the average for all occupations nationwide.

How to become a healthcare administrator

The path to becoming a healthcare administrator is comprised of a few distinct steps. The first thing you’ll need to do is earn a bachelor’s degree. Common undergraduate majors include nursing and allied health degrees, public health, psychology, business, public policy, and social services. Other undergraduate degrees can also be a good fit for the Masters in Healthcare Administration based on student interest and capabilities.

Before considering your options for post-baccalaureate education, it’s smart to dedicate some time to gaining relevant work experience although it is not a requirement. Even with a master’s degree in hand, you should expect that many employers will require prospective employees to have on-the-job experience in either an administrative or clinical role within a healthcare setting.

Many healthcare administrators begin their careers as healthcare workers (registered nurses, physicians, etc.), medical records and health information technicians, administrative assistants, or financial clerks within a healthcare organization before moving on to graduate school.

Whether or not you’ve garnered some hands-on experience, you’ll need to complete a master’s degree program. Because the work of a healthcare administrator requires competencies in both healthcare science and management, a Master of Science in Healthcare Administration (MHA) is the most effective post-baccalaureate path you can take.

The MHA program at Fairfield University, for example, presents students with an interdisciplinary approach, drawing from two of the institution’s renowned graduate schools: the Dolan School of Business and the Egan School of Nursing and Health Studies. The result is a robust, uniquely relevant curriculum that combines the best of both schools.

Upon earning a master’s degree in healthcare administration, your next steps will be dependent on your specific career aspirations. At this point, you can either begin looking for jobs or seek out opportunities for post-graduate certification or licensure.


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