If you love helping people improve their health and lead healthier lifestyles, a career in healthcare administration is a fantastic option. The best part is you can start from scratch or transition from a non-medical career with the right qualifications.
If you’re wondering if it’s worth your time and effort, healthcare administration is a thrilling and profitable career choice for anybody who is passionate about improving healthcare for others. It pays well, and there’s never a dull day.
Also known as medical or health services managers, healthcare administrators earn a decent salary. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for healthcare administrators was $100,980 in May 2019. Not bad.
The future, too, is bright for all healthcare administrators. From the same BLS report, employment for healthcare administrators is projected to grow 32% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.
All this is great news for anybody looking to pursue a career in healthcare administration. But what does a day in the life of a healthcare administrator look like? What do healthcare administrators do that makes their job a pivotal part of the healthcare system?
On a daily basis, healthcare administrators “…are responsible for ensuring the smooth operation of a hospital, hospital system or healthcare organization,” according to Public Health Online. Their duties include (but not limited to):
- Planning, coordination and implementation of health services
- Staying on top of health policies, laws and upcoming issues
- Attending high-level meetings with governing boards and investors
- Supervising subordinates and assistant administrators
- Improving financial effectiveness and overall efficiency in health facilities
- Hiring staff and managing their schedules
- Paying attention to patient fees and billing
- Keeping open communication with heads of departments and medical staff
As you can see, healthcare administrators have a lot on their plates. They usually work first-shift hours, but often have to work overtime depending on the scope of work and the size of the organization.
Job responsibilities typically increase if the healthcare administrator takes charge of a bigger organization (say, a network of hospitals) compared to a smaller healthcare facility, such as a private clinic.
What should you know before starting a healthcare administration career? Find your answer in today’s post. Without further ado, let us start.
7 Things to Consider Before Starting a Career in Healthcare Administration
Unknown to many beginners, healthcare administration is a broad field with different career paths. All the same, the following tips will prepare you for a healthcare administration job that guarantees good pay, career advancement and job satisfaction.
Get the Right Education
A career in healthcare administration requires some university-level of education. The quickest route to land entry-level jobs is earning a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration.
But that’s not the only route.
You can start with unrelated bachelor’s degree, say you’re transitioning from a different career, but then you must earn a master’s degree in healthcare administration (MHA).
The best part is you don’t have to attend on-campus classes to get an MHA. Many universities, such as the University of South Carolina, offer master’s degree in healthcare administration 100% online.
A master’s degree in healthcare administration makes it incredibly easier to land good jobs, and set you on track for managerial and executive positions.
Without a doubt, you don’t need industry certifications to land a job as a healthcare administrator. Still, they are worth the time and effort.
Industry certifications look great on your resume, and can make all the difference in interviews. They demonstrate your willingness to improve your skills and learn on your own time.
Employers love candidates with certifications, too. Additionally, you cannot get some jobs in healthcare administration without the right certification.
But don’t head out and pursue any certification you can find. Some useful certifications in healthcare administration include:
- Certified Medical Manager – If you want to manage an office or practice, you need this certification, which is offered by the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management.
- Certified Compliance Technician – If you work (or plan to) on insurance and government compliance issues, you need this certification. It’s offered by the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management (AAHAM)
- Certified Revenue Cycle Professional – Offered by AAHAM, this certification is intended for healthcare administrators who capture, collect and manage patient service revenue.
Certifications offer you more skills and earn you a better reputation within the healthcare industry.
Internship & Volunteer to Gain Experience
It’s a tough job market out there, meaning you have to go the extra mile to land the healthcare administration job of your dreams.
However, most employers require candidates with relevant work experience. But how do you gain experience without a job? You seek out internship positions like your life depended on it.
Many universities offer internship programs for healthcare administration students, so check with your department if you’re a student.
You can also find internship opportunities by networking and reaching out to people who are already in the trenches.
Volunteering is another great way to gain relevant work experience. Organizations such as World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations (UN), among others, offer a wide range of volunteer positions.
On top of that, local organizations, hospitals, universities and laboratories also offer internship and volunteering opportunities that can help you hone your skills and gain work experience.
Keep in mind that internships can often lead to a full-time permanent job within the same organization.
You’ll Need Licensing
To work as a long-term healthcare administrator, you will need licensing like many other roles in healthcare.
To get your license, you need to meet state qualifications and take the necessary exam. For example, you must take the NAB nursing home administrator exam if you want to work as a nursing home administrator.
Each state has its requirements for licensing. All the same, most states require that you be at least 21, and have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school.
You are also required to take a course in administration or have two years of work experience in a healthcare facility.
Check with your state department to confirm what’s is required for licensure, and then you get your license, and details on how to maintain your license.
Join a Professional Group
Joining a professional group can be quite beneficial to your career as far as finding a good healthcare administration job is concerned.
All because professional groups offer student useful resources, networking opportunities and job boards that can take you a step closer to your dream job.
Some of the largest professional groups in healthcare administration include:
- American College of Healthcare Executives, which is perfect for healthcare CEOs, and everybody who wants to become a CEO in the future.
- American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management -A professional association for administrators focused on the revenue cycle.
- Professional Association of Health Care Office Management – A collaborative network for single-practice or small-group managers
There are many other professional societies in the healthcare industry, so check what works for you depending on the area of healthcare administration you want to enter.
Networking is one of the best ways to grow your career, whether you’re a healthcare administrator or not.
Most high-paying jobs are never advertised. Instead, the positions are filled through word of mouth and referrals.
If you play your cards right, you can land your first job via networking. As such, nurture every contact you make along the way.
That’s why it’s important to join the professional organizations we mentioned earlier. These groups usually organize events across the country.
If you’re a student studying healthcare administration, universities organize events such as talks and alumni meetups.
These events are fantastic opportunities to meet peers and like-minded people in the industry. Make the most of any event that is available.
Hone Job-Specific & Soft Skills
To be successful, healthcare administrators require a wide variety of skills. Here are some of the skills you should have and hone:
- Organization skills – Every healthcare administrative must be organized to handle budgeting, scheduling and other admin tasks.
- Computer literacy – You need to know your way around computers as a healthcare administrator. That’s because many healthcare activities are handled using computer systems nowadays.
- Communication skills – The best healthcare administrators are avid communicators. You must communicate clearly with colleagues, patients and other stakeholders.
Other important skills to master include team leadership, strategic planning, and people management, among others.
Healthcare administration is a fantastic career option for anybody willing to put in the work. Get the right qualifications, and go after your dream job.
Good luck and stay safe.