Healthcare administrators are known by several names, including healthcare executives or medical health services managers. Although the job title may vary slightly, all these positions manage a healthcare system to keep it running efficiently. Some healthcare administrators manage one department while others manage whole facilities. A healthcare administrator coordinates and directs healthcare delivery, and helps make plans to ensure that delivery is smooth.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, most healthcare administration positions require a master's degree in an appropriate field. These fields include health-services administration, health sciences, public health or long-term care administration. In addition, some master's of business administration programs offer courses with a particular focus on healthcare. Some smaller offices hire new administrators with only a bachelor's degree or experience rather than formal training. Graduate programs typically require two to three years of full time study, and may include a year of administrative experience.
New graduates sometimes begin in a facility as an administrative assistant or assistant department head. A healthcare administrator may move up to positions such as department heads or assistant administrators with experience. After further experience, some healthcare administrators increase their responsibilities and earn more money by working as a chief executive officer or other management role. Others use their experience to move to a larger facility with more opportunities, or into consulting or education.
According to the BLS, employment of healthcare administrators is expected to grow faster than the average over all careers, with expected growth of around 16 percent between 2008 and 2018. The healthcare industry is expected to grow larger and more diverse, and will need healthcare administrators to help manage the business side of healthcare. In addition, increased requirements of insurance companies and government programs will likely require more efficiency by facilities, and healthcare administrators may be brought in to assist. Employment will grow most quickly for those applicants that have experience in healthcare or business management.
According to the Career Center at Weber State University, the average starting salary for a healthcare administrator is $30,000. The BLS notes that salaries for healthcare administrators can vary widely based on experience, type of facility and location. According to the BLS, the nationwide mean annual wage for a medical and health services manager is $90,970, or $43.74, as of May 2009. Those working in pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing were the highest-earning industry, with an annual mean wage of $156,050. The top paying states in May 2009 were Washington, with an annual mean wage of $109,460, Massachusetts at $107,020 and Rhode Island at $106,120.
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