Healthcare administration is a growing field where professionals work as leaders and managers in administrative roles in hospitals, public health industries, and healthcare networks. Unlike becoming a doctor or another medical professional, individuals with this degree work on the operations side of healthcare, developing business plans and health services across multiple healthcare systems. With a degree in healthcare administration, you may find work as a hospital CEO or CFO, hospital administrator, or medical office business manager. The average yearly salary for healthcare administrators hovers around $98,350, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers in this field are projected to rise 20% between 2016-2018.
This field is often a perfect fit for those who want to work in medicine but are not interested in going through medical or nursing school. With a degree in healthcare administration, you are working behind the scenes in hospitals and medical facilities rather than directly with patients. This guide will provide those interested in pursuing a health administration degree program with valuable insight into the curriculum, as well as some helpful resources and organizations.
Should I Get a Bachelor's in Healthcare Administration?
A bachelor's in healthcare administration can be earned on campus or online. On-campus degrees are particularly well-suited for students straight out of high school or adults that are not currently employed. Full-time, on-campus degrees are best for students who know exactly what field they are interested in. Many online degrees can be completed asynchronously, meaning that you can access all course materials and submit assignments on your own time. Distance education programs often follow the same curriculum as their on-campus counterparts, so you can be confident that you are receiving quality education comparable to that taught on campus.
A bachelor's in healthcare administration often includes classes in medical terminology, U.S. healthcare systems, healthcare economics, and health law and ethics. Professionals in this field must have a wide foundation of knowledge in the healthcare industry. Completing a program specific to healthcare administration also opens doors to networking opportunities. Many schools also provide job placement assistance and career counseling to students nearing graduation. Even post-graduation, many graduates of a healthcare administration program find themselves more competitive in the job market than individuals with a degree less tailored to this career path.
What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Healthcare Administration?
Graduates with a bachelor's in healthcare administration are eligible for a variety of career paths in an array of settings, including chiropractic offices and emergency hospitals. Potential careers include nursing home administrator, clinic administrator, and chiropractic office manager. Careers in this field require professionals with strong skills in communication and interpersonal management. Most individuals working in healthcare administration have a passion for both people and business, as many careers in this field require skills in both. Healthcare is a constantly changing field, and the administrative side is no different. Administrators must stay up-to-date with the fluctuating state of the market.
- Medical and Health Services Managers
Also known as healthcare executives, these professionals plan, coordinate, and oversee health and medical services in facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes, and clinics. These medical service managers direct changes in healthcare regulations, technology, and laws. Healthcare executives may manage entire facilities, individual departments, or groups of physicians.
Median Annual Salary: $98,350
Projected Growth Rate: 20%
- Administrative Services Managers
Administrative service managers are responsible for the planning, direction, and coordination of support services for a facility. Career responsibilities may vary, but most managers supervise recordkeeping, facility upkeep, and resource distribution.
Median Annual Salary: $94,020
Projected Growth Rate: 10%
- Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
These individuals are responsible for the organization and management of healthcare data and information. Critical job responsibilities include maintaining quality, accuracy, and accessibility in medical records and electronic systems.
Median Annual Salary: $39,180
Projected Growth Rate: 13%
- Insurance Underwriters
Insurance underwriters are responsible for deciding whether or not to provide a client with insurance and under what specific terms. These professionals may work for individuals, hospitals, and healthcare organizations. Underwriters evaluate applications for insurance and determine coverage amounts.
Median Annual Salary: $69,760
Projected Growth Rate: -5%
- Human Resource Managers
Human resource managers direct, coordinate, and plan the administrative functions of their organization by overseeing recruitment and hiring as well as communicating with executives regarding business strategy and planning. Human resource managers are often the connection between the management and employees of a company.
Median Annual Salary: $110,120
Projected Growth Rate: 9%
How to Choose a Bachelor's in Healthcare Administration Program
When you are trying to choose the right bachelor's in healthcare administration program, there are some key factors to consider. In most cases, earning a bachelor's in healthcare administration will take at least four years, but some schools offer accelerated programs on-campus and online. These accelerated programs may differ among schools, and some may have different enrollment requirements.
In some cases, healthcare administration degrees can be earned on a part-time basis. Like with accelerated programs, part-time enrollment requirements may vary between schools and programs offered at the same institution. Most healthcare administration programs will consist of the same fundamental coursework in topics such as medical terminology, the ethics of healthcare, and business administration, but some schools will offer specialized elective courses not found elsewhere. Furthermore, institutions may offer differing concentrations or specializations in the same program.
If you are planning to attend a school out of state, be sure to check that state's licensure and graduation requirements for healthcare administrators, as these may vary by region. Prior to selecting a school, it may be helpful to determine what sort of thesis or capstone project is mandated for healthcare administration students. Post-graduation employment opportunities in this field may differ from state to state, so it is important to be sure that your school of choice is fully accredited; both on-campus and online programs are often accredited by the same agencies.
Accreditation for Bachelor's in Healthcare Administration Programs
Programmatic accreditation, also called professional or specialized accreditation, was created for concentrated schools, programs, or departments within a larger institution that have already received either national or regional accreditation. An accredited program means a greater, more tailored standard of education is being met. The primary accrediting body for healthcare administration programs is the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME). This agency sets educational standards for public health, medical, healthcare administration, and business programs. The CAHME differs from regional accreditation because it is dedicated to the standards of one area of education.
Bachelor's in Healthcare Administration Program Admissions
It is a common misconception that it is easier to get into an online program than one on campus. In fact, the admissions process for online programs is more exhaustive, requiring a longer list of references, transcripts from high school and previously attended higher education institutions, proof of work experience, and test scores. On average, you will find that acceptance rates to online programs are approximately equal to admissions for a school's on-campus programs. A major cause for this difference is that most students planning to attend school on campus are likely straight out of high school and are applying without a specific major in mind, whereas most online schools offer direct admission into a specific program and are primarily attended by individuals who are already active in the workforce. As getting into competitive programs can be challenging, many people choose to apply to multiple schools. On average, an applicant should submit applications to four to eight schools.
- Minimum GPA: GPA requirements vary among schools. Transfer students and recent high school graduates typically put more weight into their GPA as it is a recent measure of their academic standing. Typically, colleges require a GPA between 2.5 and 3.0. More competitive schools will likely have a higher minimum requirement.
- Application: College applications generally require some of your personal information, your high school transcripts, transcripts of previously attended institutions, any relevant test scores, and recommendations. Often, applications also require a personal statement essay.
- Transcripts: Transcripts are compiled documents that summarize your academic performance at a given institution. Included on a transcript is a list of classes you have taken, the grade earned, and your overall GPA. To get an official copy of your transcript, you often have to request it directly from your school.
- Letters of Recommendation: Most schools require at least two official letters of recommendation. These letters can be written by bosses, professors, or another person qualified to vouch for your abilities. Letters should not be written by family members. It is polite to request a letter at least three or four weeks prior to your application deadline to give the writer a chance to consider your request and complete the letter in due time.
- Test Scores: Most schools require applicants to submit ACT or SAT scores along with their application. These tests measure competency in reading comprehension, writing skills, and mathematical ability. Minimum score requirements often vary by institution.
- Application Fee: On average, to apply to any four-year school costs from $45 to $50. In some cases, such as direct admission, this fee may be waived. These fees go toward the administrative process of reviewing an applicant's submission.
What Else Can I Expect From a Bachelor's in Healthcare Administration Program?
Schools that are accredited by the CAHME will meet the minimum standards of education required for a career in healthcare administration, but each institution may offer different courses or highlight specific aspects in their programs.
|Healthcare Informatics||This concentration combines cognitive science, computer science, and healthcare sciences to assist individuals or companies in managing patient information. Students learn how to input, retrieve, and sort data regarding personnel and patients. Coursework may include data analysis, healthcare systems and applications, and business intelligence.||Data entry and management for insurance companies, healthcare facilities, and residential healthcare homes|
|Patient Safety and Quality||This specialization focuses on healthcare administration with an emphasis on being a patient advocate. Classwork includes microeconomics, finance, patient safety strategies, and legal ethics.||Human relations administrator and healthcare quality manager|
|Healthcare Law and Policy||Legislation and regulations surrounding healthcare are constantly under review and subject to change. Students are taught current healthcare law and how to implement changes as they arise without sacrificing the quality of patient care. Coursework includes policy analysis, public healthcare regulations, and regulatory affairs.||Bioethical law, human resources, regulatory office work, and healthcare administration|
|Healthcare Financial Management||This specialization focuses on the financial side of healthcare and its administration. Students learn fundamental decision-making practices concurrently with patient needs and legal regulations.||Accounting positions, legal regulatory positions, and healthcare administrative roles|
|Healthcare Management||This specialization covers the crucial aspects to managing a healthcare facility. Students learn about business management and healthcare policies. Classes include mergers and acquisitions, healthcare fundamentals, and principles of management.||Human resource manager, healthcare administration management|
Courses in a Bachelor's in Healthcare Administration Program
While many bachelor's in healthcare administration programs cover the same fundamentals, specific courses, concentrations, and electives may vary from school to school. Primary coursework consists of what is required for accreditation by the CAHME to meet a minimum standard of education for practicing healthcare administration professionals. Below is a short list of classes you can expect to take in any healthcare administration program.
- Healthcare Management
This class combines business and healthcare administration. Students learn how healthcare is organized in the U.S. as well as how business management concepts apply in medical contexts. Classwork discusses challenges healthcare administrators encounter on a day-to-day basis.
- Healthcare Accounting
This class covers the financial side of running a business in a medical context. Students learn basic accounting concepts and how to interpret financial statements. Coursework combines general financial practices with industry specifics.
- Health Law
Due to the ever-changing nature of healthcare laws and regulations, this class is crucial for student understanding of what aspects of care are most influenced by changing policies. Classes also cover general knowledge of corporate rights and ethical business strategies.
- Basic Illness and Disease
For anyone working in healthcare, a basic knowledge of disease and common illnesses is expected. Students learn how common diseases are addressed in various clinical settings. Coursework focuses on treatment of diseases as well as prevention techniques and practices.
- The Healthcare Industry in the U.S.
Most healthcare administration programs include a class that discusses the basics of this country's healthcare system. Classwork covers the evolution of healthcare over time, the various delivery system options, and how finances can affect healthcare in different areas of the country.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor's in Healthcare Administration?
There are many factors that affect the duration of a bachelor's program. Most people are able to complete a bachelor's in healthcare administration in four years, but students enrolled in accelerated programs may earn their degree in three years, and part-time students may take seven years. Degrees with options for specialization may take longer to complete than programs focused only on healthcare administration. Accelerated programs are frequently offered at the same cost as traditional programs. Most bachelor's in healthcare administration programs consist of 120 total credit hours divided between general education, major-specific, and elective courses. Healthcare administration degrees often accept internship experience for class credit.
How Much Is a Bachelor's in Healthcare Administration?
On average, a bachelor's degree in healthcare administration from a public institution costs $9,139 for in-state students, while out-of-state students pay approximately $23,000. Students attending a private college or university will likely pay more to earn this degree. Other factors that may contribute to the cost of this degree include whether the degree is earned online or on-campus, internship requirements, and textbooks or other learning materials. On-campus learners will likely pay more overall due to the need to live close to their chosen college or university. Students of public schools living on campus pay an average of $8,887 per year, while students at private schools pay an average of $10,089.
Other fees, such as textbooks and lab costs, also factor in to the total cost of earning your degree. Textbooks for on-campus students are often more expensive, and while many online programs offer textbooks and learning materials as part of the online learning platform, others require students to purchase these separately.
Certifications and Licenses a Bachelor's in Healthcare Administration Prepares For
- Executive Certification
Also known as the CRCE, this certification requires applicants to have knowledge of business and healthcare. The examination tests individuals' communication skills and critical thinking abilities and is often considered the healthcare administrative equivalent of a lawyer completing the bar exam.
- Professional Certification
This is one of the newest certifications offered by the The American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management (AAHAM). Individuals with this certification are equipped to manage various aspects of the revenue cycle and have extensive knowledge of registration, credit, billing, and collections.
- Specialist Certification
Individuals with a professional certification looking to further their career into management or a specific area of healthcare administration should look into this certification, which validates one's skills in account resolution, customer service, and collections.
- Certified Compliance Technician
Many revenue professionals are required to meet a number of compliance training standards and requirements. This certification may help individuals working in compliance roles to understand their roles more thoroughly. Exam topics include administrative sanctions, abuse, and HIPAA practices.
- Certified Self-Funding Specialist
This certification is offered through the Healthcare Administrators Association and focuses on a self-funded benefit model. Training courses prepare participants for continued education credits and are sponsored by the the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.
Resources for Healthcare Administration Students
Published by the Dove Medical Press, the Journal of Healthcare Leadership is an international publication subject to peer review by esteemed professionals in the field. Articles focus on leadership roles for healthcare professionals and aim to educate key decision-makers on best practices in healthcare around the world.
Founded in 1973, this journal is a longstanding resource for healthcare administrative professionals looking for current information on policy and healthcare developments.
Launched in 2011, this journal was created and is run by Southwestern Oklahoma State University. The journal publishes work from many types of administrations, including education, healthcare, nursing, and business.
Written by Nick Jacobs, this blog handles issues regarding healthcare analysis, healthcare app reviews, and IT issues in large hospitals.
This resource allows you to keep track of the latest developments surrounding healthcare policies and acts, such as the Affordable Care Act. The government updates this page with major deadlines and legislative news.
Professional Organizations in Healthcare Administration
Professional organizations provide members with networking opportunities, seminars, and lectures, as well as advice and insight to people new to the field or looking to change their position. These organizations are usually nonprofit and dedicated to serving the interests of a particular profession. Recent graduates with a bachelor's in healthcare administration may benefit from joining a professional organization. Some examples are listed below.