Do you love working with people? Are you analytical, but never at the sake of efficiency? Are you a skilled communicator and multitasker? If you answered yes to all of the above and you want to improve healthcare access in your community, a career in healthcare administration might be perfect for you.
Healthcare administration jobs focus on the business side of healthcare. People in healthcare administration may hold leadership roles with large organizations. They keep the healthcare industry running smoothly by managing and implementing strategies to provide the highest possible quality healthcare to clients.
In addition to being a rewarding and deeply respected career path—with high earning potential—job growth in this field is expected to increase at a faster-than-average rate. Between 2021 and 2031, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that healthcare administration jobs will grow by 28 percent, creating more than 56,000 job openings each year.
It’s a complex field requiring advanced skills and knowledge. Professional experience is important but so too is training and education. If you want to land an upper-level administrative role in healthcare, consider earning a Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA).
As with any major life decision, pursuing an MHA degree shouldn’t be done in haste. Before enrolling in an MHA program, be sure to define your career goals. Earning an MHA takes time, money, and plenty of effort. Fortunately, many MHA degree programs offer students the option to earn their healthcare administration degree online, allowing them to balance their course load while continuing to work (and earn a steady salary). If you’re wondering whether a healthcare administration degree is right for you, a good place to start is by weighing the pros and cons of pursuing an MHA.
A healthcare administration master’s is a graduate degree that qualifies you for numerous management and leadership positions. Most MHA degree holders work in health service and medical management, directing, planning, and coordinating healthcare services. The goal of many healthcare administration jobs is to manage medical practices, clinics, or facilities.
With a healthcare administration degree, your career could land just about anywhere in the healthcare profession—in a hospital, a doctor’s office, or in other large healthcare facilities, like nursing homes. But healthcare administration jobs also often follow an entirely different route; those with an MHA degree are qualified for a variety of jobs with government agencies, healthcare corporations, and healthcare nonprofits. While some healthcare administration jobs are open to entry-level applicants, most upper-level positions, like hospital administrator, require candidates to have earned a master’s 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. (
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. ( )
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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2021 the median annual income for medical and health service managers was $101,300, with the lowest 10 percent of workers earning less than $64,100 and the highest 10 percent of workers earning upwards of $210,000. Your healthcare administration salary will depend on your level of responsibility, years of experience, location, and the size of your employer.
The majority of healthcare administration jobs fall across five main industries. They are listed below, with the median annual average salary for each.
Hospitals remain one of the largest employers of those with a master’s in healthcare administration. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 30 percent of medical and health services managers work in state, local, or private hospitals.
There are a number of government jobs in healthcare systems at the local, state, and federal levels. Federal jobs might include positions in any of the departments of the United States military, Department of Veteran Affairs, or the Center for Disease Control. City and state jobs might be positioned in public health departments or schools. About 8 percent of medical and health services managers work for the government.
With inpatient admissions dropping and more and more medical services being delivered through ambulatory care, outpatient care centers are growing steadily. These facilities provide services like diagnostic imaging, dialysis, drug rehabilitation, and even chemotherapy as daytime visits without overnight stays. About 7 percent of medical and health services managers work in outpatient care centers.
Just like larger hospital systems, physicians’ offices need the expertise of high-level administration in areas of staffing and operations, development and training, as well as technology, accounting, and finance. About 12 percent of medical and health services managers work in physicians’ offices.
Nursing and residential care facilities face unique challenges with patient care and clients facing end-of-life care and long-term stays. The type of care and focus on particulars in staffing, privacy and family legal matters requires special communication skills and care, and often state-specific licensing. About 9 percent of medical and health services managers work in nursing and residential care facilities.
While you do not need a healthcare administration master’s to establish a career in healthcare, an MHA degree offers considerably higher earning potential than the career trajectory for those with only a bachelor’s degree. According to PayScale, those with an MHA degree earns a median starting salary of about $89,000 per year. With a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration, PayScale reports an entry-level median salary of $68,000 per year.
You’re the only one who can decide whether an MHA degree is right for you and whether the investment in time, money and energy will pay off. To do so, you’ll need to consider the following:
If the detail- and systems-oriented positions in healthcare administration seem like a comfortable fit for you and you know that you will be happy with the mix of management and person-to-person care, pursuing this degree this may be a great investment.
You may have career goals that prioritize earning a high-level salary. An advanced degree may put you in a stronger starting position, and accelerate your earnings more rapidly than if you only hold a bachelor’s degree.
Where you live and work have a huge impact on both your earning potential and your cost of living. Researching the ways in which your earnings are impacted by your state or region may help you decide on whether or not to move beyond a bachelor’s degree and pursue your master’s.
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