Healthcare Administration

How to Become a Home Healthcare Administrator—And Recession-Proof Your Career

How to Become a Home Healthcare Administrator—And Recession-Proof Your Career
With an aging population and "hospital at home" a growing trend in health care, this field is poised for growth in the coming years. Image from Unsplash
Christa Terry profile
Christa Terry July 23, 2019

Want to earn a good living without going to medical school? The future of home healthcare administration looks bright.

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A healthcare career doesn’t necessarily have to involve treating patients directly. Like all industries, healthcare needs hardworking, conscientious, capable people to keep the system working and healthy—and that’s what becoming a home healthcare administrator__ is all about.

Within this large and important function is the field of home healthcare administration, which tackles the practical side of keeping people with medical challenges at home instead of in the hospital, in a nursing home, or in long-term care facilities. With an aging population and “hospital at home” a growing trend in health care, this field is poised for growth in the coming years.

Most people are familiar with home healthcare as it pertains to the elderly, but home health services also include:

  • Hospice care
  • Visiting nurse services
  • Assisted living care
  • Palliative care
  • In-home care for the disabled

As a result, different healthcare administration roles may require very different backgrounds and areas of expertise—like business management versus nursing administration—even though they might both be involved in overseeing operations, coordinating care schedules, managing caregivers, and taking care of HR issues.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • The pros and cons of becoming a home healthcare administrator
  • Kinds of home healthcare administrators
  • Educational requirements
  • Licensure and accreditation

Pros and cons of becoming a home healthcare administrator

Home healthcare administration is the type of job for which the maxim “it might never be easy, but it will always be worth it” applies. In other words, becoming a home healthcare administrator is challenging, and the career path has numerous pros and cons.

Pros

Cons

You run the risk of burnout because the workload and pressures are substantial. Health administrators often have to balance patient needs against the needs of staff; make sure organizations comply with changing local, state, and federal regulations; and stretch every dollar as far as it will go

If you’re up to the challenge, here’s what you need to know about becoming a home health care administrator.


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“I’m Interested in Healthcare Administration!”

Health administration undergraduates sometimes start out in admissions, marketing, risk management, managed-care analysis, or other non-clinical staff positions and work their way into higher-level administrative roles. While it’s possible to work in healthcare administration without an MHA, it can take a lot longer to climb the managerial ladder without a master’s degree. (source)

According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2018, the median wage for health service managers was $99,730 per year, with the highest 10 percent in the field earning over $182,600 in base pay. Employment opportunities for health services managers is expected to grow by 20 percent by 2026. This growth is much faster than growth for other occupations. (source)

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Kinds of home healthcare administrator careers

Patients receive many kinds of home healthcare services, which means that a home health care administrator might work for any of the following:

  • Home health aide service
  • Home health equipment company
  • Hospice organization
  • Long-term care service
  • Physical therapy practice
  • Visiting nurse service

No matter which area of home health administration you enter, entry-level positions in home health care administration include:

  • Administrative assistant
  • Health informatics officer
  • Intake coordinator
  • Medical billing clerk
  • Medical records technician
  • Office administrator

Mid-level home health care administration jobs include:

  • Case manager
  • Department manager
  • Marketing director

Senior-level home health care administrators are typically responsible for overseeing nursing staff, arranging for caregiver training, organizing care plans, developing and administering budgets, and increasingly, overseeing marketing efforts.


Educational requirements to become a home healthcare administrator

It may surprise you to learn that there is no national educational standard for home care administrators. A bachelor’s degree in nursing administration, healthcare administration, or public health is the minimum level of education you’ll need to get a foot in the door.

However, most home healthcare companies now prefer to hire candidates with both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree (usually either a master of health administration (MHA) or master of health services administration (MHSA) degree).

MHA and MHSA programs are similar, although MHSA programs typically include more courses in general business administration alongside healthcare-focused ones. Candidates for both master’s degrees typically choose an area of specialization, such as:

  • Acute care
  • Care quality management
  • Environmental health science
  • Gerontology
  • Health care informatics
  • Long-term care
  • Policy development
  • Outpatient services

Both master’s degrees typically take two years to complete if you’re studying on-campus full time, though there are a number of accelerated one-year online programs like the online master’s (MHA) offered by Stony Brook University in New York or the online master’s (MHSA) at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Alternately, you could get an MBA in healthcare administration, although that master’s degree is more popular with people looking at careers in healthcare management—a field similar to health care administration, but generally more focused on the business of providing care than on the delivery of care.


Licensure and accreditation for becoming a home healthcare administrator

The licensure and accreditation process for becoming a home healthcare administrator varies from state to state, as each state imposes its own requirements. In Texas, health care administrators have to complete an online training covering regulations, laws, and ethics.

Other states (such as Oklahoma) impose continuing education requirements and require applicants to pass a national exam.

In some states, however, home care administrators don’t need a license to work. The best way to find out your state’s requirements is simply to contact the department of health.

There are several professional organizations that offer certification to experienced home care administrators. Having a professional certification isn’t strictly necessary, but it does demonstrate proficiency and may make it easier to get a job. The National Board for Home Care and Hospice Certification (NBHHC) offers an administrative certification, as does the Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center.


Is becoming a home healthcare administrator right for you?

As patient-centered outpatient care is becoming the norm and more of the population is making the choice to age in place, the future of home health care administration looks bright. Home healthcare expenditures are set to outpace all other health spending categories by the end of 2019.

Home health agencies are already experiencing administrator shortages, meaning there’s likely already a place for you in home health administration if you decide to follow this path. If you have a knack for operations and people management as well as a passion for healthcare, a career in healthcare administration could be for you.


Questions or feedback? Email editor@noodle.com

About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

To learn more about our editorial standards, you can click here.


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Categorized as: Healthcare AdministrationNursing & Healthcare