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How to become a hospital administrator

At a glance

  • Hospital administrators, also called medical and health services managers, are responsible for the oversight of healthcare facilities or departments.  
  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that health and services managers typically need a bachelor’s degree and experience in an administrative role.
  • Employment for health services managers is projected to grow by 28% between 2021 to 2031, according to BLS.
  • University of Phoenix offers both a Bachelor of Science in Health Administration degree and a Bachelor of Science in Health Management degree that can help provide the educational foundation to pursue this career path. 

A hospital administrator, also referred to as a medical and health services manager, is a key part of the success of any hospital or medical facility. These professionals, though rarely seen by patients, are responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of a medical facility. 

Hospital administrators work every day to oversee staff, improve the quality of patient care, manage professional development opportunities and more. If you are interested in becoming a hospital administrator, it is important to understand the education and experience that is often needed to succeed in this role. 

Prepare for the fast-growing healthcare industry. Start earning your degree. 

What does a hospital administrator do? 

A hospital administrator works to create an environment where medical professionals have the skills and resources they need to monitor and ensure compliance with state and federal healthcare regulation. Their duties differ day to day, and an administrator might specialize depending on their work environment. A hospital administrator typically focuses on the management of staff and patient care.

Examples of an administrator’s duties include:  

  • Completing performance reviews for doctors and nurses
  • Planning professional development opportunities for hospital staff
  • Scheduling the shifts of doctors, nurses, aides and other staff

Education requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), health service managers typically need a bachelor’s degree in health administration or a related field, like business administration or nursing. BLS notes, however, that education requirements may vary by employer. While a bachelor’s degree is typical, a master’s degree may be preferred by some hospitals or healthcare facilities. At others, an associate degree may be required or work experience in an administrative role can suffice.

A college degree in health administration can help students learn important business-related topics, such as medical terminology, the fundamentals of electronic health records, healthcare ethics and other necessary work functions. An understanding of how to provide healthcare is important to the position, which can be learned in a healthcare degree program.

Additionally, health services managers are often responsible for the business aspects of the company, such as accounting, budgeting and financial management. Business courses usually teach such skills.

Individuals with work experience and education in nursing or other medical administrative or clinical roles might be able to shift their career path to hospital administration as well. Registered nurses (RN) with experience working as nursing home administrators or other roles, like a medical records specialist or administrative assistant, might have skills that apply to this career path.

Industry certifications and advanced degrees

BLS reports that some states may require a state-issued license to work in this field. Additionally, some employers may also require that medical services managers be licensed as an RN or a social worker. That said, industry certification may not be a requirement for this role.

If you are interested in pursuing higher-level administration positions, then advanced degrees and certifications can help you reach your goals. For example, a master’s degree in healthcare administration shows a level of knowledge and expertise in your chosen field. This level of expertise can help provide opportunities to take on more responsibilities or higher-level roles in healthcare administration.  

Hospital administrator salary and job outlook

According to BLS, medical and health services managers earned an annual salary ranging between $60,780 and $205,620 based on May 2021 data of the top and bottom 10% of earners. 

This field is expected to grow by an estimated 28% between 2021 and 2031, a rate much higher than the projected average for all other occupations. An estimated 56,600 jobs will be open each year in medical and health services management. 

Between the possible earnings and the projected growth of the field, aspiring administrators are entering the workforce at an opportune time. 

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, 2021-2031 is published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This data reflects BLS’ projections of national (not local) conditions. These data points are not specific to University of Phoenix students or graduates.

Gaining experience in healthcare administration

While education, such as earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree in healthcare administration, is helpful, aspiring administrators should also seek out opportunities for on-the-job experience. 

Work experience allows healthcare professionals to use skills learned in a practical setting. The practical application of these skills can lead to increased proficiency and potentially new career opportunities. 

Internships and entry-level positions

Internships in hospitals, nursing homes and medical clinics are one way to gain valuable work experience. 

Aspiring hospital administrators can also seek out entry-level positions as administrative assistants, medical billing specialists, nursing assistants and community health workers. These entry-level positions teach valuable skills and provide networking opportunities. 

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Developing essential skills

Administrators need to develop a variety of skills to succeed in their jobs and best serve

the patients who come to their facilities seeking help. Skills necessary for hospital administration include: 

  • Leadership: Hospital administrators work directly with hospital staff, providing performance reviews, guidance and professional development.   
  • Communication: Hospital administrators need to communicate with healthcare providers and hospital leadership to provide a top-notch patient experience. 
  • Critical thinking: Administrators need to be able to solve problems quickly and effectively. 
  • Compassion: Patients are often stressed because they are unwell or unhappy with financial costs among other reasons. Their families might also be stressed. Doctors and nurses are stressed because of the demands of their jobs. Hospital administrators need to be compassionate and kind to everyone they come across to provide a positive healthcare experience for all involved. 

Each of these skills can be developed through education and relevant work experience. By taking the time to hone these skills, hospital administrators can better serve the hospital staff and patients in their care. 

Networking

If you are an aspiring healthcare administrator, networking can be useful. By making lasting connections with healthcare administrators and other medical professionals, you may learn about open positions in your field. While you might have to leave your comfort zone, the benefits of networking are well documented and worth the effort. 

Opportunities for upskilling

Within the field of healthcare administration, there are plenty of opportunities to develop new skills. There are several ways to upskill, including: 

  • Seeking mentorship: Take the time to learn from and develop professional relationships with hospital administrators at your current worksite or in your area. Learning from their experience can help you enhance your own career. 
  • Continuing education: Earning certificates and advanced degrees can improve your knowledge and skills in healthcare administration. 
  • Taking on leadership roles: If a leadership role becomes available, use it as an opportunity to grow as a leader and showcase your leadership skills to your supervisor. 

Some hospital administrators enhance their careers by specializing in fields such as healthcare information technology. Others pursue high-level executive positions within hospitals, nonprofit organizations and other companies. 

Challenges and rewards

A career in hospital administration, as with other careers in the healthcare system, comes with challenges and rewards. 

Working in a hospital can be a demanding, high-stress career. Administrators may find themselves acting as the intermediary between healthcare providers and hospital leadership. 

However, with stress comes rewarding experiences too. Hospital administrators can make a difference in patient care every day. By improving patient care and creating a worthwhile working environment for healthcare providers, administrators can help change lives. 

Earn your degree at University of Phoenix

If you’re interested in learning more about a career as a health and services manager, University of Phoenix (UOPX) has degree programs that can help you learn skills to be prepared 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: The degree prepares students to learn important business aspects of health management to help organizations improve patient care and outcomes. Key skills learned in this program 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 students with skills to navigate the complexity of healthcare laws, rules and regulations to help keep patients and providers safe.

University of Phoenix makes attending more simple with flexible courses starting every 5 or 6 weeks, dedicated support, locked-in tuition, scholarship opportunities and more. Visit phoenix.edu to learn about all the ways we can help you save time and money on your degree. 

Michael Feder

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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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