Health administration encompasses many different careers with one shared goal: helping organizations provide top-quality patient care. By building your skills in this field, you can prepare to work in a wide range of areas, such as finance, accounting, human resources, operations management, and information technology.
Regardless of what stage you’re at in your career, there’s likely an opportunity that fits your goals. We’ve developed this guide to help you learn more about health care administration and determine whether this career path is right for you.
Doctors’ offices, clinics, and hospitals need more than medical staff to operate efficiently. Health care administrators are the backbone of health care systems. They support health care workers on the front lines and ensure that their organization operates smoothly.
Working in health care administration provides several benefits, some of which we’ve highlighted below.
Health care administrators operate the health systems that provide critical services to those in need. They impact the lives of patients and families by ensuring that medical staff provide the highest level of care.
Increased earning potential
Administrator salaries begin at around $40,000 for entry-level positions, while the median salary for medical and health services managers is $100,980. More experienced managers and senior executives can earn over $150,000.
Multiple career paths
Nearly every function of business plays a role in administering health care services, including accounting, administration, human resources, operations, information technology, legal, and compliance. The sheer size and scale of the health care industry allows job-seekers multiple entry points to a career.
With the aging population and growth of the health care system, there will be increased need for health care administrators. Employment in health care administration is projected to grow 32% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations, with 133,200 new jobs.
Expanded job responsibilities
Health care administrators serve as liaisons between the medical, information technology, human resources, social services, and community teams. They also develop preventive policies to help control chronic disease and other conditions in their local communities.
The health care industry is growing rapidly and has undergone several changes in recent years. Here’s a brief overview of where the industry is headed.
The changing role of consumers
Consumers are playing a more direct role in choosing how they receive their care, which means there’s a growing need for health care administrators to ensure the profitability of their organization by evaluating and streamlining processes to best serve an increasingly proactive clientele.
Widespread use of electronic health records
Eight-five percent of physicians report that they utilize some form of digital recordkeeping to maintain patient data. As the use of electronic health records (EHRs) continues to increase, demand for health administrators to manage these systems will also rise.
With an aging baby boomer population, expect to see a greater need for health care administrators in nursing homes and elder-care facilities.
Greater consolidation of business functions
With more choices of where and how to receive medical care, consumers are placing greater pressure on health care systems to deliver better value. To remain profitable, smaller practices are looking for effective ways to share their resources in areas including administration, billing, and information technology. Health care administrators play a key role in facilitating this consolidation while maximizing profitability.
Increased use of telehealth services
Telemedicine, or e-medicine, offers patients the ability to receive remote health consultations and examinations via a secure telecommunications infrastructure.
Health crises such as COVID-19 have shown how critical this delivery model is in allowing providers to examine, evaluate, diagnose, and treat patients from home.
Health care administrators work with technology, compliance, and medical staff members to ensure that these services are not only accessible to patients but also compliant with patient privacy laws.
Digital technology continues to revolutionize health care. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are driving exciting innovations in patient care, and medical professionals will be expected to work more closely with these technologies in the coming years.
Institutional investors spent $80 million on health-related technological innovations between 2015 and 2020, which has spurred regulators to push for a balance between easily available patient data and regulatory compliance.
All these efforts require the involvement of health care administrators to ensure that patients’ best interests are upheld. This is a dynamic job that will require you to stay educated and up to date on the latest technological developments to better serve patients.
Careers in health care administration range from jobs in small private practices to positions in large health care systems comprising networks of hospitals, clinics, and offices. With the right skill set and experience, you can take advantage of many available opportunities.
Some of the most popular industry opportunities in health care administration include:
- Accounting and financial reporting
- Finance and business strategy
- Legal and regulatory compliance
- Operations management
- Medical records and administration
- Human resources
- Health information systems
You can pursue a health care administration career by earning a degree in a medical field, such as nursing, or you can take a more business-minded approach by earning an undergraduate degree in business administration and eventually an MBA. Certain business programs are designed to let you focus your studies exclusively on health care administration.
Since knowledge of technology is essential for effective health care administration, you could also start by earning your associate or bachelor’s degree in computer science or information technology. You could complement this credential with additional courses on health care information systems or seek employment with a health care organization to gain relevant on-the-job experience.
Whichever route you choose, there’s no shortage of positions for professionals who are interested in health care administration.
Administrator roles in health care typically require expertise in a business field such as accounting. Additional education or experience in the health care industry is also valuable. Many entry-level positions require a bachelor’s degree, while some just ask for an associate degree.
An associate degree can open the door to a career in health administration and may lead to greater management roles in the future:
- Medical records and health information technician: $42,630
- Financial clerk: $40,540
- Medical secretary: $36,580
- Medical assistant: $34,800
- Medical transcriptionist: $33,380
Advanced career opportunities
Those who hold an advanced degree can often earn a higher salary, depending on their role:
- Health and medical services manager: $100,980
- Emergency management director: $74,590
- Health information systems manager: $146,360
- Human resources manager: $116,720
- Administrative services manager: $96,940
According to research published by Burning Glass Technologies, many of the most in-demand health administrator jobs do not require a master’s degree, although some do require a bachelor’s:
Entry-Level Job Postings
|Percentage of Bachelor’s Entry-Level Job Postings||Percentage of Master’s Entry-Level Job Postings|
|Health Care Administrator||36,577||64%||7%|
|Nursing Home Administrator||3,827||86%||2%|
|Director of Rehabilitation||1,390||56%||19%|
Source: Burning Glass Technologies
Employers are seeking candidates with a well-rounded background and skill set. You can use the following information to help you upskill or reskill and get ahead of the competition.
Here are the 10 fastest-growing skills employers are seeking in health care administrators:
Projected Posting Growth (2018-2023)
|Medical Billing and Coding||117%|
|Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)||75%|
|Computer and Information Technology Industry Knowledge||60%|
|Advanced Microsoft Excel||52%|
|Microsoft Office and Productivity Tools||48%|
|Human Resource Management Systems||46%|
Source: Burning Glass Technologies
Here are the most sought-after technical and specialized skills in health care administration:
- Business development
- Sales management
- Data science
Soft skills in forensic accounting
Companies also frequently look for health care administrators with the following soft skills:
- Relationship building
Top emerging skills
Trends indicate that the following skills will appear in more job posts moving forward:
Projected Posting Growth (2018–2023)
|Health Care Procedure and Regulation||26%|
Source: Burning Glass Technologies
Demand is rising for health care administrators who are skilled in the following tools and software:
- Microsoft Office
Completing an internship can help you attain the necessary experience needed to pursue higher-paying jobs. These opportunities are offered in a variety of settings, from private medical practices to government laboratories.
Many smaller practices frequently seek part-time help managing medical and office supplies, completing and filing patient paperwork and performing general office duties.
Health care systems
Larger health care systems offer internships in a wide range of functions, from finance and budgeting to public policy and community relations.
Government and nonprofit groups
Government and nonprofit groups also offer internship opportunities in different health-related fields, including laboratory work, bioethics, environmental health, education, and communication.
Consider joining a professional organization to learn more about the latest industry trends and leverage opportunities for networking and ongoing education.
Some well-known industry associations include:
Enjoy a career with growth potential
Health care administration careers offer some of the most promising opportunities for professional advancement and personal fulfillment. With the right skills and education, you can play a vital role in ensuring the well-being of your community. As the health care industry continues to grow, we’re here to guide those who are excited to join this expanding field.
Find your path
- American College of Healthcare Administrators
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Healthcare Financial Management Association
- Electronic Medical Records / Electronic Health Records, Centers for Disease Control
- American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management
- McKinsey & Company
- Burning Glass Technologies
- Short-term Internships for Students, Centers for Disease Control
Need help finding the right program?