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Nursing vs. Healthcare Management

Jody Dugan, RN, BSN
Updated November 10, 2022
Trying to decide between furthering your career in nursing or healthcare management? Check out details on both to help you decide which might be right for you.
Credit: Getty Images

Are you considering advancing your nursing career? Nursing and healthcare management are two rewarding options. Both offer a high salary, a job outlook that surpasses other management occupations, and an opportunity to make a difference.

When choosing between nursing vs. healthcare administration, consider the educational approach for each field. You can further your schooling by earning a master of business administration (MBA) that places an emphasis on business and administration or a master of science in nursing (MSN) that concentrates on advanced clinical nursing skills.

Keep reading for more information on the differences between nursing vs. healthcare administration, including salary potential, education requirements, and roles and responsibilities.

In Brief: Nursing vs. Healthcare Management

Health Administration vs. Nursing
Nursing Career Path (MSN)Healthcare Management (MBA)
Standard Years to Earn DegreeTwo years in a full-time programTwo years in a full-time program
Salary Potential (range)$111,130-$183,580$89,880-$116,380
Job Outlook from 2020- 203045% increase in jobs32% increase in jobs
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Career Path: Healthcare Management

Healthcare executives are also referred to as medical and health managers. These professionals focus on the leadership, business, and administrative aspects of the facility.

Steps to become a healthcare administrator with a graduate degree include:

  1. Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  2. Active registered nurse (RN) licensure
  3. Two to three years of experience in an RN career role
  4. MBA degree

Career Path: Nursing

Advanced clinical nurses are highly specialized and dedicated to a specific patient population. These advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) work in various healthcare environments, including hospitals, clinics, physicians’ offices, and outpatient facilities.

Steps to become an APRN with a graduate degree include:

  1. Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  2. One year experience in a nursing role
  3. MSN
  4. APRN certification
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Nursing vs. Healthcare Management FAQ

Can a nurse become a healthcare administrator?

A nurse with a BSN can work as a healthcare administrator. Advanced education in business or administration, essential credentialing, and specialized clinical experience puts you at a greater advantage for employment. An MBA or master of health administration is highly desirable for this position.

What is the difference between healthcare administration and nursing?

Comparing health administration vs. nursing, healthcare administration concentrates more on the business and management aspects. You may collaborate with the healthcare team and physicians while focusing on the operations, standards, and budget of a facility. An APRN manages and cares for patients directly.

Is healthcare administration a good career choice?

This path offers an income stream with a high demand for healthcare administration. Healthcare administration is also growing more rapidly than all other management occupations.

How useful is a healthcare administration degree?

Having an advanced degree as a healthcare administrator presents you with an industry-leading salary and a variety of job prospects in different settings.

Can’t Decide? Consider Earning a Dual Degree

By earning a dual MSN/MBA degree, you develop a knowledge of clinical leadership and business management. With this combined degree, you open the doors to opportunities with the highest positions nursing offers.

Admission requirements:

While prerequisites vary by institution, a BSN from an accredited school is required to enter an MSN/MBA program. Holding an active RN licensure is also mandatory. Additionally, schools may require GRE/GMAT test scores and a minimum GPA.

Time to complete:

Typically, a full-time student can graduate in three years. Some schools also offer accelerated options. Part-time enrollment may result in a longer time commitment.

Credits required:



MSN/MBA programs have different tracks that include core courses on:

  • Leadership in healthcare
  • Nursing administration
  • Accounting for management control
  • Legal, regulatory, and economic management

Job opportunities:

A dual MSN/MBA offers the opportunity to work in high-profile roles, such as chief nurse executive, chief nursing office, nurse administrator, director of nursing, director of compliance, or director of care management.

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Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

Whether you’re looking to get your pre-licensure degree or taking the next step in your career, the education you need could be more affordable than you think. Find the right nursing program for you.