How Much Will You Earn With a Master's in Healthcare Administration?
September 21, 2021
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median income for healthcare administration jobs was $98,350 per year, with the highest 10 percent of workers earning upwards of $176K.
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 jobs often find themselves in leadership roles with large organizations, and are responsible for keeping healthcare organizations running smoothly by managing and implementing strategies to provide the highest possible quality healthcare to clients. If you want to land an upper-level administrative role in healthcare, consider earning a Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA).
In addition to being a rewarding and deeply respected career path—with very high earning potential—the job growth in this field is expected to increase much faster than average. Between 2020 and 2030, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that healthcare administration jobs will grow by 32 percent. If you know you want to work in healthcare, but are on the fence about an MHA degree, it might also be helpful to know that public health jobs are increasing at an equal pace.
Basically, you have options—and, like any major life decision, deciding to pursue an MHA degree shouldn't be done in haste. Before enrolling in an MHA program, be sure to clearly 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.
Who gets a master's degree in healthcare administration?
A healthcare administration master’s is an advanced degree that qualifies you for a host of positions. According to Careers in Public Health, most people with an MHA degree 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 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, as 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, will require candidates to have earned a master’s in healthcare administration.
How much do you earn with an MHA degree?
Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020 the median annual income for medical and health service managers was $104,280, with the lowest 10 percent of workers earning less than $59,980 and the highest 10 percent of workers earning upwards of $195,630. For executive-level roles in healthcare, the median annual wage was $185,950, with the top 10 percent of workers earning $208,000 per year.
Where do most people with a master's in healthcare administration work?
The majority of healthcare administration jobs fall across five main industries, which are listed below, with the median annual wages for each.
Hospitals (state, local, and private): $112,870
Hospitals might be the most obvious employer for medical personnel, and remain one of the largest employers of those with a master's in healthcare administration.
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, while city and state jobs might be positioned in public health departments or schools.
Outpatient care centers: $100,690
With inpatient admissions dropping, and more and more medical services being delivered as 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.
Offices of physicians: $92,240
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.
Nursing and residential care facilities: $89,880
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.
Which healthcare administration jobs pay the most?
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics also provides annual mean wages for industries with the top-paying healthcare administration jobs:
Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing: $205,470
Overseeing the research, development and manufacturing of modern medicines involves not only technology and science, but an understanding of patent law and regulations in an industry governed by health and safety protocols. Jobs in this field require extensive knowledge of both medicine and regulatory law on patenting, testing, and marketing of drugs.
Scientific research and development services: $167,910
Research and development continue to move healthcare into the future with innovation and ideas. Organizing the safety and effectiveness of innovative drugs and technology helps maintain an industry where care and attention to detail are critical.
Insurance Carriers: $161,030
Insurance carriers are an integral piece of the United States' healthcare industry. Designing and analyzing policies for individuals and corporations, and organizing policy and claims is a large part of the doctor/patient interface of modern American healthcare.
Navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing: $158,670
Laboratory testing and medical research rely on the products of the engineering, design, and manufacturing of electromedical instrumentation. Technological advancements drive this competitive industry, which relies on rapid research and development.
Computer systems design and related services: $157,480
As in every industry, technology plays a huge part in the organization and implementation of healthcare. Designing and planning the computer systems that link both hardware and software with communications is critical to efficient care and storage of data in a tech-driven industry.
Keep in mind that the above wages do not reflect the increase in earnings you will find with an MHA degree, and that the average healthcare administration salary with an MHA degree is about 20 percent higher than the average annual salary with only a bachelor’s degree.
Which cities and states are best for healthcare administration jobs?
It’s important to remember that average annual earnings fluctuate based on where you live (and work) and the job market in that area. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2020, California had the highest number of healthcare jobs (42,200 jobs), followed by Texas (34,380), New York (24,360), Massachusetts (16,310), and Pennsylvania (16,260). The highest-paying state for healthcare administration jobs was the District of Columbia ($157,590 annual mean wage) and followed by New York ($156,140), Hawaii ($139,650), California ($138,030), and Massachusetts ($136,930).
By metro area, healthcare administration jobs in California paid the most: Valleho-Fairfield ($174,010 annual mean wages), followed by Santa Cruz-Watsonville ($171,430) and Madera ($168,090). After these came Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk in Connecticut ($156,160), and San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward in California ($156,050).
Why does the cost of living matter?
Another consideration is the cost of living where you want to practice. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that the District of Columbia had healthcare jobs with higher salaries because it is also one of the most expensive places to live in the United States. According to MIT's Living Wage calculator, the District of Columbia has a much higher cost of living than any of the other states included on the BLS list for the cities and states with the highest-paying healthcare jobs.
MIT calculates the cost of living by showing the hourly rate that an individual must earn to support themselves (and also their families), assuming that individual works a standard, full-time 40-hour work week (2,080 hours per year). The top five states ranked as follows:
District of Columbia
Washington, D.C. ranks the highest of the five with a living wage at $20.12 an hour.
Hawaii is a close second after Washington, D.C. at $19.43 an hour as its living wage.
California comes in third in the ranking with a living wage of $18.66.
The Empire State comes in just under California with a living wage of $18.62.
Massachusetts ranks the lowest of the top 5 with a living wage of $17.74.
Do you definitely need an MHA degree to qualify for healthcare administration jobs?
While you do not need a healthcare administration master’s to find 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 $80,000 per year. With a bachelor's degree in healthcare administration, PayScale reports an entry-level median salary of $63,000 per year.
Is an MHA degree worth it?
You’re the only one who can decide if an MHA degree is right for you, and whether or not the investment in time, money and energy will pay off. To do so, you’ll need to consider the following:
Are any of the various types of healthcare administration jobs appealing to you?
If a look at the list of detail and systems-oriented positions seems 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.
Do you need an MHA degree for the job types you’re interested in exploring?
Start with your own list of interests and strengths, and if you see the MHA degree appearing in your searches again and again, it may indicate that you are a good degree candidate. If the list of jobs you create mirrors the list of jobs that require an MHA degree, then it looks like a match!
Are the healthcare administration salary ranges in line with what you want/need to earn?
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 in the country do you want to live (and work) and how will that impact your earning potential?
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.
Will this work be fulfilling?
If you still can’t decide whether or not a master’s in healthcare administration is right for you, it might be worth comparing the career paths and earning potential of other types of healthcare degrees, like a healthcare management master’s, a public administration master’s, or a healthcare MBA.
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