The field of healthcare is filled with qualified professionals who want to make a difference, and you may be attracted to this field because you feel called upon to help others. However, you may not necessarily wish to provide direct patient care.
If that sounds like you, you might consider pursuing a career in healthcare management instead. So, what jobs can you get with a health care administration degree and is health care administration a good career? There are quite a few options for aspiring professionals who want to break into the healthcare field. Explore this guide to careers in healthcare management to learn more and begin weighing your options.
In This Article:
- Top 3 Reasons to Pursue a Career in Healthcare Management
- What Do Health Services Managers Do?
- Where Do Healthcare Management Professionals Work?
- What Are Examples of a Healthcare Management Career?
- How To Pursue a Career in Hospital Management
- Earn Your Undergraduate Healthcare Administration Degree
- Do You Need a Master’s Degree to Work in Healthcare Management?
- Essential Skills and Characteristics for a Career in Healthcare Management
Top 3 Reasons to Pursue a Career in Healthcare Management
Healthcare is a fast-growing career field in the United States.1 There are many reasons to pursue a career in healthcare management, but here are the top three.
1. Positive Job Outlook
Healthcare is a growing field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates job growth for medical and health services managers to increase by 28% from 2021 through 2031, much faster than average for all professions. At this rate of growth, employers are expected to hire about 56,600 new healthcare administrators and managers every year from 2021 through 2031.1 Additionally, medical and health services managers had a median annual wage of $101,340 in May 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.2
2. Room for Growth
As a qualified professional, a career in healthcare management or healthcare administration can offer you a variety of pathways based on your career goals and where you are in our journey. Whether you are just getting your foot in the door as an assistant or technician, seeking a career move or pursuing advancement, there are healthcare careers at every level.3 Please review your state’s requirements for healthcare management and administration position as they will vary.
3. Your Education May Take You in Many Directions
If you’re hoping for a career full of possibilities for specialization, then healthcare management may be right for you. Graduates of the Bachelor of Science in Health Care Administration may go on to work in medical records, patient services, office management, healthcare consulting or human resources.3 In other words, a career in this field offers a variety of options.
What Do Health Services Managers Do?
Now that you’re familiar with the top reasons for pursuing a career in healthcare management, it’s time to take a closer look at the specifics of the field. Healthcare managers — also known as health services managers, administrators or executives — are responsible for planning, coordinating and overseeing the daily operations of healthcare facilities and services. Some healthcare managers are responsible for overseeing an entire facility, whereas others focus on just one department or clinical area.
Is healthcare management a good career? It certainly can be, as it provides professionals the opportunity to make a positive impact on the healthcare environment. The specific tasks that these professionals perform during a typical workday are heavily dependent on the needs of the facility and the specific position. In general, however, if you choose a career in healthcare management, you might do any of the following:4
- Recruit and supervise staff members, coordinate ongoing training initiatives and develop work schedules.
- Manage the facility’s finances (including patient fees) and develop departmental or facility-wide budgets.
- Develop the mission and values of the facility, as well as departmental goals.
- Identify ways of improving the quality of patient care, as well as the efficiency and profitability of the healthcare facility.
- Act as the public face of the healthcare organization and represent it on governing boards or during community meetings.
- Maintain accurate records regarding the facility’s healthcare services.
It’s also not unusual for a health services manager to specialize. For example, some may oversee a specific department in a hospital, such as orthopedic surgery or physical therapy. Others might work across departments in an area such as health information technology or finance.
Where Do Healthcare Management Professionals Work?
One way to narrow down your career choices within this field is to think about the specific type of healthcare setting you might want to work in. State, local and private hospitals are the largest employer of managers and administrators. Other professionals work in the offices of physicians or for outpatient care centers.5
There are plenty of other options to consider as well, including the following:
- Hospice agencies
- Nursing homes
- Assisted living communities
- Pharmacies (located within a hospital, nursing home, clinic or retail store) and pharmaceutical manufacturing companies
- Public health agencies and programs
- Rehabilitation facilities
- Behavioral/mental health facilities
- Home healthcare agencies
- Teaching hospitals
- Outreach health agencies for the homeless
Your healthcare career may take you in any number of directions. Regardless of which healthcare setting you choose, you can be confident that your work can help make a positive difference in the lives of patients and healthcare staff members alike.
What Are Examples of a Healthcare Management Career?
If a career in healthcare management is in your future, you should give some thought to the specific type of job you’d like to pursue. Note that there are many options available to graduates with a bachelor’s degree. If you’d like to apply to an executive-level position at a major hospital later in your career, you may want to consider returning to school to earn a master’s degree.3 Below are examples of healthcare management career:
Ambulatory Care Manager
Ambulatory care facilities provide only outpatient services, rather than inpatient care. A couple of examples include a standalone urgent care facility and an outpatient surgery center. When patients do need to be admitted overnight, they are transferred to an inpatient facility.
An ambulatory care manager is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of this type of facility. At a smaller facility, the manager may be responsible for multiple departments ranging from human resources to finance to emergency response. At larger ambulatory care facilities, there may be one healthcare manager per department.
Assisted Living Administrator
Assisted living facilities aren’t quite the same thing as nursing homes. The residents at an assisted living facility are older adults who need some assistance with various tasks, but who do not require intensive assistance or have debilitating medical challenges.
The assisted living administrator can act as the initial point of contact for potential residents and their families. This professional is also responsible for overseeing the facility’s daily operations and ensuring that the facility provides a positive, healthy and socially stimulating environment for its residents. An assisted living administrator may work on a variety of tasks ranging from developing the budget to approving a calendar of events for the residents.
Healthcare Quality Improvement Manager
As the job title implies, healthcare quality improvement managers are charged with improving the quality of patient care and patient outcomes. These professionals may work in a variety of settings ranging from large hospitals to teaching hospitals to nursing homes. They may do any of the following tasks:
- Navigate the process of getting the facility or a department accredited.
- Review existing processes and procedures to identify areas of improvement.
- Liaise with department heads and nurse leaders to develop better guidelines that promote ideal patient outcomes.
- Develop protocols for reducing rates of hospital readmissions and hospital-acquired infections.
Health Information Manager
If you’re looking for a career in healthcare management and you have a passion for technology, this role may be worth considering. Information technology (IT) is playing an increasingly important and prominent role in our healthcare system. Healthcare facilities around the country have implemented electronic health records and other technological advances to increase patients’ active involvement in their own healthcare and to facilitate the coordination of patient care.
It’s the responsibility of a health information manager to ensure that the facility’s medical technology is up to date and working as it should. One major task for health information managers is to ensure the security and privacy of patients’ health information. In addition, these professionals may do anything from recommending investments in new medical technology to developing staff training programs for that technology. The degree program closely related to this position is the BS in Health Information Management.
How To Pursue a Career in Hospital Management
You can begin preparing for a career in healthcare management as early as high school. Although healthcare managers and administrators do not provide patient care, it’s helpful for them to have a basic understanding of healthcare and nursing topics. If your high school offers any introductory courses to nursing or related topics, these would be good classes for you to take.
In addition, you should try to take as many business-related courses as possible, such as the following:
- Computer applications
- Business law
Leadership skills are also important. Look for extracurricular activities or sports teams to join, and begin actively working on cultivating your leadership skills. Lastly, consider volunteering for positions in healthcare settings, such as a local nursing home or children’s hospital.
As you approach your high school graduation date, you’ll need to carefully consider your options for your postsecondary education. Most health services management positions require at least a bachelor’s degree. Earning a master’s degree may not be strictly necessary, but it may help you position yourself for possible career advancement in the future.
Earn Your Undergraduate Healthcare Administration Degree
If you know that you want to work in healthcare management, you should look for a bachelor’s degree program in healthcare management or administration. A healthcare management degree can instill competencies in key areas such as project management and leadership with a strong focus on the healthcare field.
The specific curriculum will vary from one school to the next, but in general, you can expect to study topics such as the following:
- The issues and challenges of the modern regulatory environment, with a look at compliance issues regarding accrediting bodies
- The factors that influence healthcare quality, cost and access, such as social priorities, political trends and economic issues
- Ethical theories and decision-making models that guide the resolution of ethical dilemmas in the modern healthcare system
- Strategic planning in healthcare settings
- The role of healthcare management information systems (health technology) in modern healthcare systems
It is also recommended for you to gain some practical experience during your time as a student. Take the initiative to visit your student services department to inquire about relevant internship opportunities. An internship in the healthcare field may enable you to begin developing your professional network. You may also acquire some key contacts who might provide you with letters of reference.
Do You Need a Master’s Degree to Work in Healthcare Management?
You may find that healthcare employers prefer or require their managers to have a master’s degree. If you aspire to a higher level executive position at a large hospital, consider a graduate degree.3
There are two main options for your graduate education. You may choose to earn a Master of Science in Health Administration or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with an Emphasis on Health Systems Management.
An MBA degree would focus more on general business competencies with a specialization in healthcare management. In contrast, a master’s degree in healthcare management or administration would focus entirely on the manager’s role and responsibilities in a healthcare setting.
Alternatively, if you know without a doubt that you’d like to devote your career to the healthcare field, a Master of Science may be best for you.
Essential Skills and Characteristics for a Career in Healthcare Management
Along with competencies in business management and health services, healthcare management professionals can benefit from having excellent interpersonal and leadership skills. Teamwork and a collaborative mindset are essential. Healthcare managers must often work closely with department heads and other professionals; as such, it’s important to be able to work well with people from all walks of life.
Other skills and characteristics needed in this role include:
- Analytical reasoning
- A commitment to lifelong learning and professional development
- Attention to detail
- Creative problem-solving abilities
- Technology competencies
Grand Canyon University’s Bachelor of Science in Health Care Administration degree can prepare students for entry into the field of healthcare administration. If you’d like to learn more about this or the other programs offered by GCU’s College of Nursing and Health Care Professions, complete the form on this page.
1 COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well. Accordingly, data shown is based on June 2023, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Medical and Health Services Managers, retrieved on June 12, 2023.
2 The earnings referenced were reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Medical and Health Services Managers as of May 2021, retrieved on June 12, 2023. Due to COVID-19, data from 2020 and 2021 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may also impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the BLS. BLS calculates the median using salaries of workers from across the country with varying levels of education and experience and does not reflect the earnings of GCU graduates as Medical and Health Services Managers. It does not reflect earnings of workers in one city or region of the country. It also does not reflect a typical entry-level salary. Median income is the statistical midpoint for the range of salaries in a specific occupation. It represents what you would earn if you were paid more money than half the workers in an occupation, and less than half the workers in an occupation. It may give you a basis to estimate what you might earn at some point if you enter this career. You may also wish to compare median salaries if you are considering more than one career path. Grand Canyon University can make no guarantees on individual graduates’ salaries as the employer the graduate chooses to apply to, and accept employment from, determines salary not only based on education, but also individual characteristics and skills and fit to that organization (among other categories) against a pool of candidates.
3 Oppenheimer, T. (2023, February 28). Jobs for People With a Healthcare Administration Degree. Nurse.org. Retrieved on August 11, 2023.
4 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2023, April 7). What Medical and Health Services Managers Do. Retrieved on July 25, 2023.
5 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2023, April 7). Medical and Health Services Managers Work Environment. Retrieved on July 25, 2023.
Approved by the associate dean of the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions on Aug. 22, 2023.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.