Starting a Career in Health Care Administration

Have you ever thought about a career in health care administration?

The Health Care Administrator keeps the hospital running smoothly. Photo by The Consumerist

The Health Care Administrator keeps the hospital running smoothly. Photo by The Consumerist

Probably not, right? Admittedly, it does not sound like the world’s most exciting profession. You might not have even known it was a career. But it is a strong and growing field (as of this writing. There’s no telling how President Obama’s health care overhaul will impact the industry) that pays well and offers good benefits. If you have been seeking a job in the health care field, but don’t want to be a doctor or a nurse, then this may be the career path for you.

Health Care Administration is taught in a great many schools, under several different but similar names. It might also be called Healthcare Management, Medical and Health Services Management, Health Systems Management, or simply Health Management. But those are all different names for the same job.

What does a health care administrator do? Basically, they administrate and manage hospitals, doctors offices, clinics, public and private health care systems. Generalists are in charge of overseeing an entire system or facility, and making sure all the departments work together. A specialist work on making the operations more efficient in the individual departments.

What that means is that the Health Care Administrator handles all the non-medical job duties for the institution. This includes, but is by no means limited to, hiring and training staff, managing and enforcing workplace procedures, rules, and policies, maintaining accuracy and security of medical records, insurance billing, debt collection, budgeting, ordering supplies, making schedules, and keeping the day-to-day operations of the hospital or clinic running smoothly.

This may sound like a glorified office worker, but that is far from the truth. Without these hospital and health care administrators, the facility simply could not operate. The doctors operate, the nurses handle patient care, the janitors clean, and the administrator is the one who holds it all together and keeps all these people paid. It is an essential job for any health care facility.

Having a degree as a health care administrator will also make it possible for you to become the head or chairperson of a department, or in the private sector it could help you become an executive.

The industry standard is a four year Bachelor’s degree in the field. This is what it is going to take to get a good job in health care administration. But if you want to really advance your career, and have greater opportunities in a wide range of specializations, you are going to need to put in the extra two years and achieve a Masters Degree in either Health Care Admin or a related field. Without the Masters degree, your career is somewhat hindered.

The job description for a health care administrator is so vast and all-encompassing that the actual duties of a particular job will vary wildly, as will the working hours and the salary

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