Health Administrator - How to Become a Health Administrator

Health Administrator

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Health Administrator Job Description


Health administrators are those leaders who hold the reins at hospitals, physician group practices, home health agencies and nursing homes. Health administrators also work in the public sector, in areas such as health departments, or in the private sector.

Potential private sector employment locales may include:

  • Pharmaceutical companies

  • Health insurance providers

  • Consulting firms

  • Companies that produce medical supplies and equipment

A health management degree opens up career opportunities that are expansive and invigorating. Those starting out in the field enjoy advancement opportunities and a network of contacts through the health care management community and program alumnus that are invaluable throughout the time spent in their careers. Those launching a career in health care management must first select the approach that will provide them with specialized skills and knowledge that is essential to managing health-related organizations.

Health management graduates can help shape health care policy through the pursuit of careers with local, state or federal agencies. Some agencies that are often sources of employment for health management graduates include Medicare and Medicaid Centers or the Food and Drug Administration. Other national associations with potential employment opportunities include the Red Cross or the American Hospital Association.




Health administrators may be generalists or specialists. Generalists manage, or help in the management of entire facilities or systems. Specialists work at the helm of specific clinical departments or service programs.

These health care managers, who also work under the designations health services managers or health administrators, are responsible for directing the operation of hospitals, health systems and other types of health care organizations.

Their responsibilities may include:

  • Overseeing general function of the facility

  • Organizing services

  • Instilling and monitoring programs

  • Supervising staff

  • Budgeting duties

  • Maintaining relations with other organizations

  • Other management-level functions, depending on the size and type of organization





Must effectively communicate with your co-workers to ensure the best care and the proper procedures. Must be able to communicate in high-stress environments.

Active Listening

Offering your full attention to an individual person or group in order to fully understand problems and their nature.

Critical Thinking

Must use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Judgment and Decision Making

Needs to be able to act autonomously and make difficult decisions that would benefit the patient or make corrections. Must consider all benefits and repercussions of potential actions and choose the appropriate one. 

Complex Problem Solving

Must be able to identify complex problems and develop and evaluate corrective options and implement solutions. 

Stress Management

Must be able to endure intense situations and handle pressure that comes with extreme situations you may encounter.


Must be trustworthy because you have people's lives in your hands and what you do could help or hurt them. They are entrusted with a great responsibility and must live up to it. 


Gauging how people react and read their body language to decipher their feelings and predict their actions. They must be able to determine if people could be a risk to themselves or others and to distinguish truths from lies.


Working Conditions


Health administrators and managers do not work directly with patients on a day-to-day basis, unlike clinicians who may work in their facilities. Instead, administrators help to formulate policy, make changes when needed and help lead the nation’s health-related organizations in a way that best serves individual patients by improving the overall health care system.

Working long hours is the name of the game for health administrators. They may manage facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes or clinics, which operate around the clock. Therefore, a manager is subject to being called at all hours to deal with issues. There may be some travel involved in this field since managers may be called on to attend meetings or inspect satellite facilities, etc.

Health care managers may work in any of the following settings:

  • Hospital and health systems management
  • Medical groups
  • Biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies
  • Health information technology firms
  • Care management organizations
  • Supply chain companies
  • Health insurers
  • Investment banks
  • Government or policy organizations
  • Large corporations that direct their health and other benefits program
  • Health care management consulting firms

It is estimated that 300,000 people are employed in some aspect of health administration today, from middle management positions to the CEO office. These health administrators work in organizations of only one or two staff members to major international companies that employ hundreds to thousands of employees.



How to Become a Health Administrator:


1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)


The first step to becoming a health administrator is to earn a bachelor's degree. While candidates with substantial experience may not be required to have more than an undergraduate degree, most will need to pursue a master's at minimum. 

There is no specific bachelor's degree that is required for admission into a health administration master's program, so students have many study options at this level. Choosing a major that includes education in healthcare policy & law, marketing, human resources, information management, and healthcare financing is ideal.

A list of accredited health care management programs is available through the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME).


The following preparation timeline provides an example health administration curriculum:


Grade Level Example Courses

Freshman Year


  • Introduction to Health & Disease
  • Health Professions Survey
  • Psychology
  • Medical Terminology
  • Microcomputers for Allied Health Professions
  • Anatomy & Physiology I
  • Anatomy & Physiology II
  • Public Speaking
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives

Sophomore Year

  • Macroeconomics
  • Microeconomics
  • U.S. Healthcare Systems
  • Leading Healthcare Professions
  • Human Pathophysiology I
  • Organ Systems I
  • Organ Systems II
  • Organ Systems III
  • Organ Systems IV
  • Human Life Cycle
  • Epidemiology for Healthcare
  • Statistics in Health Professions
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives

Junior Year


  • Financial Accounting
  • Principles of Finance
  • Organizations
  • Allied Health Information Methods
  • Healthcare Quality Management
  • Healthcare Databases & Technology
  • Healthcare Law
  • Healthcare Organizations Professional Practice Standards
  • Healthcare Management
  • Healthcare Information Systems Analysis & Design
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives

Senior Year

  • Supply Chain Management
  • Healthcare Operations Management
  • Healthcare Human Resources
  • Advanced Healthcare Systems
  • Healthcare Databases
  • Principles of Marketing
  • Healthcare Reimbursement Systems
  • Healthcare Administration
  • Remaining Requirements
  • Remaining Electives


For some smaller facilities, entry-level positions accept a bachelor’s degree as adequate, and is also accepted at the departmental level in these health care organizations and in health information management.


2. Take the Graduate Requisite Exam (GRE)


With a master's degree or higher being the entry-level qualifications for most health administrators, students must prepare themselves for the 3 hour and 45 minute, standardized, multiple choice exam covering analytical writing, quantitative reasoning, and verbal reasoning.


The GRE is broken down into six primary sections:


Section Details
1 Analytical Writing Section
  • 2 writing assignments
  • 60 minutes
  • Tests student's abilities to assess arguments and communicate ideas
2 Quantitative Reasoning Sections
  • ~20 multiple-choice questions
  • 35 minutes per section
  • Tests student's abilities to solve mathematical problems and interpret data

2 Verbal Reasoning Sections

  • ~20 questions per section
  • 30 minutes per section
  • Tests the ability to understand and analyze written material
1 Unscored Section
  • A duplicate of one of the above sections


3. Earn a Master's or Doctoral Degree (2 - 6 Years)


Previously, most students opted for the traditional route of a master’s degree in health administration or public health. Today, however, students are looking into other options, including obtaining degrees in business with course concentration in health services management. Some schools offer a joint master’s degree in business administration and public health. Others offer degrees in both health care management and law.

A residency, fellowship or supervised internship may also be included in an academic program. Medical and health services managers are required to be familiar with management principles and practices. The standard credentials for most generalist positions in this field may include a master’s level degree in the following:

  • Health services administration
  • Long-term care administration
  • Health sciences
  • Public health
  • Public administration or business administration

Master’s degree programs in healthcare management generally last two years and include classes in health care policy and law, marketing, health care financing, organizational behavior, human resources or other health care management topics. A supervised internship, residency or fellowship could also be included.


The preparation timeline below provides an example master's in healthcare management curriculum:


Year Example Courses

Year 1


  • Introduction to Statistical Thinking
  • Principles of Epidemiology
  • Social & Interpersonal Influences on Health
  • Ethics & Public Health
  • Principles of Environmental Health
  • Creating Healthcare & Life Science Ventures
  • Health Care Policy, Finance, & Economics
  • Seminar
  • Electives
  • Summer Internship

Year 2

  • Healthcare Organizational Management
  • Methods in Health Services Research
  • Microeconomics for Health Policy & Management
  • Colloquium in Health Care Leadership
  • Fundamentals of Accounting & Finance
  • Managing Marketing Programs
  • Health Care Operations
  • Health Care Negotiations
  • Competitive Strategy
  • Managing Social Enterprises
  • Electives


Salary Outlook

Title Company Location Posted
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