A hospital administrator is generally an individual or several people taking control of various administrative services and roles within hospitals. These professionals could be clinicians with prior experience or other healthcare backgrounds. Typically, in the U.S., there are two types of administrators – specialists and generalists. Depending on their specific roles, they may take up different non-medical duties per their employer’s needs. Becoming a hospital administrator can take years of education, hard work, and experience. The demand for hospital administrators has increased as the healthcare industry grows exponentially. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a job outlook of 28% for hospital administration, which is much faster than the average for other occupations[1]. This comprehensive guide explains how to become a hospital administrator, the roles and responsibilities in various settings, salary, job outlook, and more.

Table Of Contents

What is Hospital Administration?

Hospital administration or healthcare administration and management is a domain that relates to management, leadership, and administration of healthcare systems, hospital networks, administration of public health systems, and hospitals in all primary, secondary, and tertiary areas. Those working in healthcare administration aim to optimize resource allocation, reduce patient care costs, organize the administrative office, and improve problem-solving processes. It also involves coordinating medical personnel to ensure proper usage of equipment and tools to deliver good healthcare to patients, along with providing the financial aspects of healthcare systems that run well. Some essential elements of hospital administration include planning, organizing, staffing, directing, and coordinating. 

Types of Hospital Administrators

Hospital administrators are individuals or a team of people who act as central control points within hospitals. Deploying people with the necessary general knowledge of how things work is essential. Employees need to be trained in specific and broad healthcare administration knowledge. Therefore, there are generally two types of administrators: generalists and specialists. The difference between both is highlighted in the table below:

Generalist Hospital AdministratorsSpecialist Hospital Administrators
The role includes an overview of the whole hospital and its facilities.The position consists of overseeing specific departments of functions within the hospital facility.
They have a vast knowledge of how different departments function and interact with inter-departments.They are often trained and educated in fields related to their specialized departments.
Make decisions or direct operations within the facility and supervise everyday processes.Make decisions, directing operations and facilities of one department like finance, accounting, or more.
In larger organizations, they can have consulting roles, direct specialist administrations, and guide internal operations.They oversee a specific department in larger organizations like public relations, IT, marketing, human resources, etc.

Why is Hospital Administration Important?

According to the American Public Health Association, healthcare administration aims to improve health service administration, which includes operations research and cost-benefit, finances, program activities, standards, and monitoring of the health services of organizations[2].  It is a non-clinical role dealing with healthcare’s employment-related, financial, and organizational aspects. Professionals in this field deal with various responsibilities, possessing a wide range of skills to direct, lead, and oversee complex healthcare systems.

What Does a Hospital Administrator Do?

Depending on your responsibilities, you might have various duties as a hospital administrator. One might manage a specific clinical area or domain, medical practice for a group of clinicians, or even the entire facility. Professionals also adapt to changes in healthcare regulations, technology, and laws. The responsibilities expected by a health care administrator will also depend on the specific job title you pursue. These often include the following:

  • Implementing effective strategies in work settings
  • Managing staff members
  • Developing and marketing different services and products
  • Ensuring that others comply with ethical financial regulations
  • Improving quality and efficiency of the deliverance of healthcare
  • Setting departmental objectives and goals
  • Training, supervising, and recruiting staff members
  • Generating work schedules
  • Analyzing quality indicators and how services can be made better
  • Understanding the outcomes of professionals and giving them feedback
  • Supervising daily operations of various departments and communicating with members of medical staff and respective department heads
  • Organizing and keeping records of services like the number of inpatient beds

Type of Hospital Administrator Job Roles

The titles that hospital administrators are awarded could depend on the area of expertise or facilities in which they work. Some titles that professionals in this field take up include:

  • Clinical Managers: oversee specific departments, like surgery, physical therapy, and nursing, and have different responsibilities based on the department. They set their departments’ goals, procedures, and policies, evaluate staff work, and develop budgets and reports.
  • Health Information Technicians: are responsible for securing and maintaining patient recording data. They must stay updated with current or proposed laws about health information systems and understand trends to manage large and complex data. 
  • Nursing Home Administrators: manage staff, finances, care of buildings and admissions, and take care of residents staying in nursing homes. These professionals require licensure, the requirements for which vary from state to state.

Working Conditions of Hospital Administrators

The largest employers of hospital administrators are hospitals at state, local, and private levels, nursing and residential care facilities, outpatient care centers, and government and physicians’ offices. Most of these professionals work full-time in offices. Some managers are required to work more than 40 hours per week, during evenings or weekends occasionally. Some must work overtime, at night or on weekends, because some facilities are open 24 hours, and healthcare administrators can be called for emergencies.

Educational Requirements and Skills Required to Become a Hospital Administrator

Different combinations of education, practical work experience, and skills help you gain this position. Most administrators need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree before entering this field. You can major in healthcare, health administration, public policy, social services, nursing, and more. There are many entry-level positions that a candidate with an undergraduate degree and essential work experience can find. After completing a bachelor’s degree in hospital or healthcare administration, some job roles include intake coordinator, medical records associate, patient registrar, project coordinator, health information management abstractor, administrative medical assistant, and so on.

However, some positions require a master’s degree, as employers favor advanced positions. Graduate programs in hospital administration can take around two to three years and even require one year of administrative experience in hospitals and healthcare consulting settings that are supervised. Some of the roles you can apply for after a master’s degree in hospital or healthcare administration include clinical manager, healthcare consultant, hospital administrator, compliance officer, director of healthcare quality, chief executive officer, operations manager, nursing director, facility manager, and more.

Besides an academic degree, success in the field of hospital administration is gained by having some work experience in a clinical or administrative role in different healthcare facilities. Some specialties prefer hiring individuals with domain-specific work experience; for example, years working as a registered nurse for nursing home administrators are usually considered appropriate.

Hospital Administrator Skills

Hospital administrators will need knowledge and abilities depending on their duties; therefore, the expertise one needs to have will be job-specific. However, most hospital administrators are expected to have some general skills, including the ability to:

  • understand and follow the laws used in the field currently and adapt to new regulations;
  • efficiently communicate procedures and policies to other professionals in healthcare and make sure the staff is complying with ethical laws;
  • pay attention to details and organize scheduling and billing information in healthcare facilities like hospitals;
  • discuss challenges in staffing and information about clients with other professionals;
  • find creative solutions to problems in administration and hire, train, and motivate staff to deliver effective healthcare;
  • stay updated with advanced technology and data analytics of healthcare.

Hospital Administrator Licenses and Certifications

Professional certifications can help you become a more established and credible professional in hospital administration. Credentialing is generally not required; however, some individuals choose to become proficient through certifications. Many areas have specific certifications that one can take up, including:

American Health Information Management Association[3]

The AHIMA offers several certifications that individuals in healthcare organizations can take up, making them ready for the evolving health space. Most of these certifications are self-paced study-at-home paths, including Certified Coding Associate, Registered Health Information Technician, etc.

Professional Association of Health Care Office Management[4]

This organization offers many credentials that help you prove your competence in the administrative management of healthcare associations. It is one of the few nationally accredited professional certifications that focuses on managers of health care. 

American College of Health Care Administrators[5]

This organization provides Certified Assisted Living Administrator distinctions and Certified Nursing Home Administrator certifications. However, the organization speculates modifications in these certifications to stay relevant to healthcare trends.

Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems[6]

This certification is given by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, which focuses on management and information systems in the healthcare domain, helping you demonstrate your commitment and credibility in managing different healthcare systems.

Certified Revenue Cycle Executive and Cycle professional[7]

The American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management offers this certification. It is suitable for those wanting to acquire comprehensive knowledge of financial operations, information systems, government regulations and policies, and more.

One can acquire licensure in the field of hospital administration as well, although a license is optional. However, some positions, like registered nurses[8], must have permits or licensure.  Most states require state-specific licensure, for which the requirement differs depending on your geographical location. You must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, complete a state-approved training program, and pass the national licensing examination. Some requirements include you have previous work experience in healthcare facilities. The National Association of Long-Term Care Administrator Boards[9] details state licensing requirements.

Hospital Administrator Specializations

Hospital administrators can specialize in one area that requires them to gain expertise and knowledge. Some concentrations can lead directly to specific career opportunities in the healthcare industry, such as:

Health Care Management

This concentration helps you understand the aspects of leading healthcare facilities. You learn about managing healthcare policies and focus on dealing with vendors and purchasing medical equipment. It includes knowledge of health insurance, quality assurance, procedures, decision-making in managed care, principles of management, and more. 

Job Roles: Clinical manager, health information manager, social media director, nursing home administrator, clinical research manager, and more.

Healthcare Informatics

This specialization teaches individuals to sort, retrieve, input, and manage data related to personnel, patients, and the healthcare facility. It integrates cognitive science, information science, computer science, and other such topics. The topics learned here prepare you for keeping electronic paper records, data analysis, business intelligence, health care information management, etc., that will help you to manage residential care facilities and insurance companies.

Job Roles: Informatics analyst, clinical informaticist, electronic medical record keeper, chief medical information officer, nurse informaticist, informatics manager, etc.

Patient Quality and Safety

This concentration helps professionals understand the role of advocating for patients and learn about decision-making and strategic planning using financial data. One also learns about ethical and legal considerations, human relations, and patient safety strategy and systems in administration and quality management.

Job Roles: Medical director and patient safety officer, patient safety officer or consultant, director of quality management, director of performance improvement, director of quality outcomes, patient safety, etc.

Healthcare Financial Management

In this concentration, you learn about the financial aspects of healthcare administration. You also understand how the decision-making process works in healthcare and challenges based on legal regulations and patient needs. Topics include accounting and legal rules, economics, etc.

Job Roles: Financial analyst, financial auditor, healthcare finance manager, medical records and health information technician, medical billing specialist, financial consultant, payroll specialist, etc.

Healthcare Law and Policy

This concentration is concerned with knowledge of regulations and legislation regarding healthcare. One learns about new laws and understands ways to implement them without challenging the quality of patient care quality. It includes topics like bioethics, health systems, health policies, human resources in healthcare administration, ethics in healthcare, and more.

Job Roles: Medical-legal assistant, personal injury paralegal, medical-legal counsel, regulatory specialist, legal nurse consultant, risk manager, etc.

How to Become a Hospital Administrator: 6 Steps to Become a Hospital Administrator

The healthcare field is booming, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects more than 616,900 jobs in the field of hospital administration and related services by 2031[1].  Healthcare organizations seek applicants who are well-versed in the area or have degrees and expertise. One needs to have an overview of how different healthcare settings work and the regulatory frameworks and policies related to one’s role. Here is a step-by-step process to understand how you can establish your career in healthcare administration:

Step 1: Complete Bachelor’s Study

  • To become a professional in this field, one must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Generally, individuals wanting to work in healthcare administration can come from different backgrounds and be physicians, human resource specialists, business professionals, and nurses.
  • One can complete education in specific fields like a nursing degree or medical profession or a bachelor’s in healthcare administration, public health, human resources, and other related fields. Both Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts programs are available in these fields, with majors in public administration, long-term care management, healthcare informatics systems, etc.
  •  Some core courses you may learn in this field are healthcare policy, managed care fundamentals, healthcare economics, healthcare information systems, health statistics and research methods, and more.

Step 2: Get Work Experience

  • After completing undergraduate studies, one can focus on getting quality work experience in this field. Those who have completed medical-related programs can begin working in managerial positions. 
  • The hospital administration field values prior experience in different management settings, including long-term care facilities, public health agencies, insurance companies, doctor’s offices, outpatient facilities, and so on. 
  • One can pursue job roles in patient care services, information systems, nursing administration, and more.

Step 3: Do a Master’s Degree in Healthcare or Hospital Administration

Step 4: Do a Post-Graduate Fellowship

Step 5: Gain Board Certification

  • The American College of Healthcare Executives offers the ACHE fellow, which shows your competence in healthcare management. It shows your commitment and expertise in this field. Even though this step is not mandatory, employers prefer candidates who have gained more knowledge and certifications beyond a traditional degree.
  • The Board of Governors’ Examination[13] can be taken up by those who want to become certified in healthcare management. You can advance your expertise and knowledge in this field through this certification, provided you have the minimum educational requirements.

Step 6: Get a Job in Hospital Administration

  • Hospital administrators can use their skills to gain jobs in different healthcare settings, including in-state-run hospitals, private medical practices, health insurance companies, home health centers, governmental policy positions, medical group practices, ambulatory care facilities, mental health organizations, and more.

How Much Does a Hospital Administrator Make?

A hospital administrator gets an average salary of $254,610 in the United States as of December 2022. Compensation generally ranges between $213,374 and $313,708[14]. The wage can differ depending on additional skills, certification, education, years of experience, etc. These professionals can be paid based on their skills in coordinating activities, managing programs, and directing administration. Those in the top ten percent in this profession earn over $144,000 per year.

Some of the job titles and average salaries for these occupations are mentioned in the table below:

What is the Job Outlook for Hospital Administrators?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 28% employment growth in this field from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for other occupations[1]. Typically, there are more than 56,000 openings for health and medical services managers annually over the decade. Those experienced in this field are more likely to be given the duties of running and maintaining healthcare facilities.

The healthcare domain is one of the largest employers of professionals in the U.S. and is expected to add around 2.4 million jobs between 2019 to 2029. Generally, aging baby boomers needing more care, i.e., those approaching retirement age, lead to increased demand for healthcare services. They need more medical procedures, physicians, healthcare managers, etc. Therefore, hospital administrators must coordinate care and oversee the healthcare staff’s medical information and working conditions.

The opportunities for the healthcare administration field are vast, and applicants can work in many different settings, including private practice medical groups, long-term care facilities, residential healthcare, mental healthcare facilities, big hospitals, individual clinics, and more.

FAQs on Hospital Administration & Hospital Administrators

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Is a Hospital administration degree worth it?

A bachelor’s in hospital administration is the minimum requirement for you to start a career in this field. The master’s program in hospital administration can help you land advanced-level jobs with higher salaries. The degrees in this domain can help you gain the relevant knowledge and expertise needed to manage challenges efficiently in healthcare systems and build a stellar career for yourself.

Q. Is hospital administration a promising career?

Q.Is there a difference between a healthcare administrator and a healthcare manager?

Q.What does one learn in the hospital administrator degrees?

Q.Is licensing necessary for all hospital administrators?

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