Healthcare Management vs. Healthcare Administration

Looking for a leadership role in healthcare? Consider healthcare management or healthcare administration and discover which one may be right for you.
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Ellery Weil, Ph.D., is a historian and education writer. When she's not writing about education for BestColleges, she specializes in turn-of-the-twentieth-century women's history. Her writing has been published on three continents. She holds degrees ...
Updated on September 28, 2023
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Margaret Weinhold is an associate editor for BestColleges, where she focuses on core content. She is passionate about increasing visibility and accessibility around higher education. Margaret holds a BA in English from the University of Virginia....
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  • Healthcare management and healthcare administration can be lucrative, fast-growing careers.
  • While healthcare management and administration are similar, there are key differences.
  • Consider your interests and goals when choosing between the two fields.
  • Healthcare management and administration can be studied at the undergraduate or graduate level.

When you think of a job in healthcare, does your mind immediately envision doctors or nurses? Probably. But these aren't the only healthcare careers available to you. Healthcare management and healthcare administration are among some of the most popular leadership roles.

But what are healthcare administration and healthcare management? How are they alike, and how do they differ from each other? Check out the details on healthcare management, healthcare administration, and what working in these fields entails.

What Is Healthcare Management?

Healthcare managers oversee the operations and long-term plans of a healthcare organization. And healthcare management is often considered a subfield of business or economics from a healthcare perspective.

As a healthcare manager, you'll ensure that your healthcare organization is adequately funded and staffed and has the resources it needs to continue functioning.

Healthcare managers also set long-term goals for healthcare institutions regarding patient outcomes, expansion, and more. And they use data to determine if those goals are being met and if not, what changes need to be made.

If you're studying healthcare management — in undergrad or grad school — expect to focus on data analysis, statistics, and economics. You'll gain a basic foundation in biology and anatomy, too.

You can also learn the ins and outs of the jobs in an internship or entry-level role.

What Is Healthcare Administration?

Healthcare administrators oversee the day-to-day tasks of a healthcare institution or group of healthcare institutions, like a hospital and its associated clinics.

In your role as a healthcare administrator, you'll focus on ensuring that your institution is keeping itself accountable, both from a financial and patient data perspective. You'll also ensure that these institutions manage their budgets and keep patient data up to date.

A background in biology and health sciences can help you with your studies in healthcare admin. But you'll also benefit from an understanding of accountancy, communications, bookkeeping, and even law. Specifically, you should understand laws around medical data, patients' rights, and privacy.

An undergraduate major in biology can be a good choice for a future healthcare administrator, but so can English, public policy, composition, math, and statistics.

There are a diverse number of majors that future healthcare administrators can benefit from.

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What's the Difference Between a Healthcare Manager and a Healthcare Administrator?

While both roles often work in similar settings, there are important differences between healthcare managers and administrators. The skills, education, job expectations, and career trajectory in management and administration all differ.


Both healthcare managers and administrators typically possess a bachelor's degree. Some schools offer programs specifically in healthcare management or administration. But bachelor's degrees in related fields, like biology, bachelors in business management, or communications, can be good options.

If you want to increase your earning potential and advance your career, you may want to consider a master's in healthcare administration. And some schools even offer specialized MBA programs in healthcare management.

Job Expectations

When it comes to the day-to-day work of healthcare managers vs. administrators, key differences begin to show.

Healthcare managers typically spend their days working out the long-term goals of a healthcare organization. They use data to determine whether those goals are being met and then plan for the future.

While healthcare administrators oversee the immediate administrative needs of a healthcare institution, ensuring it runs smoothly at any given time.


A healthcare manager is first and foremost just that: a manager. They need to possess the same skills as managers in other fields, such as being results-driven and a people person. Plus, they need to think in terms of long-term goals, have an understanding of data, and employ strong mathematical skills.

Healthcare administrators, on the other hand, benefit from strong organizational and communication skills. These skills can help administrators handle the different facets of effectively running a healthcare institution.

Career Outlook

So what is the career outlook for each of these professions? Both healthcare management and healthcare administration can be well-paying careers with growth opportunities.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), both positions pay above the average national salary. Healthcare managers earn slightly more. They made a median annual salary of $101,340 in 2021, while healthcare administrators earned $99,290 during the same period.

The BLS projects positions for medical and health services managers to grow 28% between 2021 and 2031. In contrast, roles for healthcare administrators are projected to grow 7%.

Healthcare Management

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $101,340

Job Growth (2021-2031): 28%

Learn More About Healthcare Management

Healthcare Administration

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $99,290

Job Growth (2021-2031): 7%

Learn More About Healthcare Administration

Is Healthcare Management or Administration Right for You?

When considering whether healthcare management or healthcare administration is right for you, it's important to consider your interests and career goals. Be honest with yourself — what do you like? Dislike? Where do you want to be in five years?

Then, compare your answers with each of the two fields. Look at the skills and education you'll need and the day-to-day responsibilities you'll have. Which position fits you best?

If you have an interest in business and economics and like to strategize around long-term plans, healthcare management may be the ideal career for you.

On the other hand, if you like a fast-paced environment and want a chance to use your communication skills, healthcare administration may suit you better.

Healthcare management and administration are both careers where you can earn a good living and fill an important role in the healthcare industry.

Pro Tip: When choosing between a career in healthcare management vs. administration, ask yourself which career excites you. At the end of the day, you'll need to feel at home in your job. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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