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A guide to medical and health services management as a career

At a glance

  • A health services manager is an administrator who helps coordinate important aspects of a healthcare environment, from training to supply purchases.
  • Health services managers typically need a bachelor’s degree in healthcare and, depending on the role, may also need licensure.
  • Health services managers can specialize in a variety of areas, including finance, patient safety or information management.
  • University of Phoenix can help prepare for a role in health management with its Bachelor of Science in Health Management. Explore how you can learn about regulatory compliance, finance and other necessary skills for this role!

What is a health services manager?

A health services manager, also known as a health manager, is an administrator who coordinates important aspects of a healthcare environment, such as a hospital, an outpatient clinic or a nursing home. These professionals may work in private or public health settings while addressing such tasks as planning and implementing operations, managing facilities and overseeing employees.

Health services managers are more than just administrators, though. They function as the glue that holds a health services facility together. During a single week, they might oversee nurse training, purchase equipment, plan budgets and create staff schedules.

Let’s take a closer look at this vital healthcare role. 

Interested in healthcare management? A degree from University of Phoenix is a great place to start! 

How to become a health services manager

To become an effective health manager, you need to have more than just solid organizational skills. Knowledge of communication, leadership and problem-solving can help you work effectively with others in different nursing and healthcare settings, often behind the scenes.

Because health managers oversee facility operations and supervise employees, including those with clinical backgrounds, it’s important to be able to make high-level decisions through critical thinking, analyze problems and motivate staff.

Knowing how to have productive conversations is also key as a health services manager. They need to be able to effectively communicate with administrators, doctors, nurses and support staff, as well as external vendors and patients. Listening skills, empathy and transparency are important in this capacity.

Finally, because every day can look different as a health services administrator, they need to be adaptable to any situation, whether building an activities schedule or responding to urgent clinical priorities. Health managers need to quickly learn new technology, implement the latest best practices and stay updated on nursing and healthcare trends.

Educational requirements

To qualify for a position as a health services manager, you will need an bachelor’s degree. Students often pursue a bachelor’s degree in health management or a related healthcare degree.

Look for degree programs that teach skills a health services manager will need. For example, prioritize options that include courses in management, budgeting, regulations, ethics and more. You’ll also need to learn how to manage human resources tasks, protect electronic health records (EHRs) and analyze internal and external data.

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Industry certifications

Most health services managers do not need professional certification to begin work. However, certification programs are valuable for deepening health management-related skills. For example, through the Health Care Compliance Association individuals can obtain certification in healthcare compliance (Certified in Healthcare Compliance, or CHC credential), as well as other certifications. UOPX educationally prepares students to sit for this exam through its Master of Health Administration with a concentration in Health Care Compliance and Privacy program and the Graduate Health Care Compliance and Privacy Certificate.

Some facilities, like nursing homes, require health managers to hold a state-issued license. Depending on your responsibilities, you may also need licensure as a social worker or registered nurse.

Gaining practical experience

Many employers prefer candidates with at least a few years of hands-on experience in an administrative or clinical setting. Employers appreciate this experience because it often means the job candidate is already familiar with the workplace and the problems they might face as a health services manager.

There are several ways to gain practical experience in a healthcare environment. Some aspiring health services professionals get their start with an internship, one that bridges the gap between the classroom and the real world. Others find employment in one of several entry-level healthcare careers where they can learn useful skills in patient care, business administration, clerical tasks and health IT.

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Responsibilities of a health services manager

The exact duties vary based on factors such as location and facility type. For example, some health services managers spend most of their time coordinating patient programs and operations schedules. In other settings, they might also handle finances, business administration, HR and compliance.

Here are some of the typical daily tasks a health services manager might handle:

  • Hiring and evaluating staff members
  • Developing internal initiatives to motivate staff members
  • Creating budgets and financial reports for transactions, marketing and new technology
  • Maintaining compliance through patient record-keeping, audits and other quality improvement strategies
  • Engaging community members in extending care beyond the facility
  • Organizing facility records, from expense reports to patient counts

Collaboration is important for most of the duties a health service manager handles. They work alongside other members of a healthcare organization to protect patients and help ensure quality care.

Throughout the week, health services managers may work in several areas, including:

  • Information management: A focus on healthcare technology, IT, electronic health records, data security and other systems that protect patient information and improve care.
  • Human resources: A focus on recruitment, retention, training and other aspects of staff management that maintain compliance and provide meaningful work for employees.
  • Finance: A focus on budgeting, expense reporting, financial forecasting and revenue cycle management.
  • Patient safety: A focus on strategies, protocols and regulations that protect patient confidentiality, mitigate risks and measure staff performance.
  • Long-term administration: A focus on patients receiving, or transitioning to, long-term care. Settings can include nursing homes, assisted living facilities and rehabilitation centers.

Understanding healthcare laws and ethics

Ongoing education plays an important role in the career of every health services manager. They must understand applicable laws and ethics that affect their responsibilities and how those policies might change over time.

Healthcare laws provide a rigid framework for a healthcare setting. They might protect patient privacy, regulate billing or protect a company’s reputation. The same laws should also inform internal policies on patient safety and risk.

As far as ethical considerations, health services managers should, for example, understand how ethics impact patient consent, equal access to care and patient family rights. An organization’s ethical policies should also provide clarity during a dispute or conflict of interest.

Career progression and opportunities

As health managers gain experience in management, they might qualify for further leadership positions within a healthcare organization. Growth opportunities can include administrative or department leadership. They might aspire to join the executive leadership team where they can collaborate with stakeholders, clinicians and community representatives to shape policy and protocols.

Other health services managers go on to become consultants. They can use their knowledge and skills to help healthcare companies improve operations across departments.

Health services manager salary and job outlook

Several important factors influence the salary of virtually every healthcare employee. For example, location, years of experience, active certifications and employer can all impact income. As of May 2022, the lowest 10% of health services managers made less than $64,100 and the highest 10% earned more than $209,990 per year, based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Positions are projected to grow by 28% from 2022 through 2032, much faster than other occupations, according to BLS. This should create an estimated 54,700 new positions each year for aspiring medical and health services managers.

Salary ranges are not specific to students or graduates of University of Phoenix. Actual outcomes vary based on multiple factors, including prior work experience, geographic location and other factors specific to the individual. University of Phoenix does not guarantee employment, salary level or career advancement. BLS data is geographically based. Information for a specific state/city can be researched on the BLS website.

BLS Occupational Employment Projections, 2022-2032 is published by BLS. This data reflects BLS’ projections of national (not local) conditions. These data points are not specific to University of Phoenix students or graduates.

Earn your degree at University of Phoenix

If you’re interested in learning more about a career as a health services manager, University of Phoenix (UOPX) has degree programs that can help you prepare for this career path. Healthcare degrees can be earned 100% online, allowing you the flexibility to pursue your educational goals without putting your life on hold. Read more about healthcare degree options available at UOPX:

  • Bachelor of Science in Health Administration: This degree prepares students to learn important business aspects of health management to help organizations improve patient care and outcomes. Key skills learned include marketing trends, accounting and quality care analysis. 
  • Bachelor of Science in Health Management: This degree is specifically designed for allied health professionals, such as medical assistants, who want to pursue a career in healthcare management. You’ll learn critical skills like financial management; regulatory and compliance policies; and data analysis.
  • Master of Health Administration: Students learn to generate core business strategies based on innovative concepts developed in the program, evaluate industry and organizational dynamics in the healthcare environment, and construct strategic relationships with diverse stakeholders across the health sector to achieve business objectives with a current or desired employer.
  • Master of Health Administration with a concentration in Health Care Compliance and Privacy: This program equips you with skills to navigate the complexity of healthcare laws, rules and regulations to help keep patients and providers safe. The program educationally prepares students to sit for the Certified in Healthcare Compliance (CHC) examination.
  • Doctor of Health Administration: If you’re a health professional who is seeking greater responsibility in shaping the future of the health sector, the Doctor of Health Administration can help you get there. You’ll meet the challenges inherent to today’s healthcare landscape, including economic fluctuations, burgeoning patient needs and industry-changing legislation.
Photo of blog author Michael Feder smiling.


Michael Feder is a content marketing specialist at University of Phoenix, where he researches and writes on a variety of topics, ranging from healthcare to IT. He is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars program and a New Jersey native!


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