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What Can You Do With a Healthcare Administration Degree?

Kristen Hamlin
Updated May 23, 2023
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A healthcare administration degree can lead a variety of careers. Learn more about what you can do and where.
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Although you have likely heard there is a nursing shortage in the U.S., there is also a growing need for healthcare workers outside of patient care. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 32% increase in demand for healthcare administrators by 2030, mainly because of the need to manage the complexities and increased demand for healthcare resources.

The field of healthcare administration is varied, with opportunities at every level of education and experience. Keep reading to learn more about the field, degree options, and potential career paths to help determine whether it’s the right path for you.

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What Is Healthcare Administration?

At its core, healthcare administration is the management and direction of healthcare organizations, including health systems, hospitals, long-term care organizations, physician practice groups, and more. These roles oversee operations, including facilities management, budgeting, staffing, communications, policy development, programs and services, compliance, and other management functions. In short, they create an environment where patients can receive the highest quality care.

While healthcare administrators do not provide direct, day-to-day patient care, many have patient care experience that they apply to their administrative responsibilities. Still, the majority of their functions are business-related. Administrators are charged with navigating the many financial, logistical, strategic, and policy-related challenges of modern healthcare, and must be strong leaders.

Today’s healthcare landscape is more challenging than ever. With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to strain resources, an ongoing emphasis on cost management, and an aging population placing more demand on healthcare providers, strong leadership is needed now more than ever. The pandemic has created a new paradigm for healthcare. Leaders face unprecedented challenges in managing remote workforces, making strategic decisions in times of great uncertainty, and managing significant financial upheaval. Administrators who can rise to these challenges—and use them to establish more resilient operations in the future—are critical right now, creating a wealth of opportunities for growth in the field.

Types of Healthcare Administration Degrees

Associate in Healthcare Administration

An associate degree in healthcare administration is a two-year degree that introduces concepts within the healthcare field, emphasizing human resources, medical terminology, healthcare delivery systems, and informatics. Earning this degree prepares you for careers in administrative positions, such as managing a doctor’s office or physician group practice, as well as entry-level roles in other settings.

Learn more about what you can do with an associate degree in healthcare administration.

Bachelor’s in Healthcare Administration

A bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration sets you up for a career in healthcare management. You learn how to apply healthcare-specific concepts and methodologies to managing people and processes within an organization. Coursework typically includes healthcare-focused classes in economics, finance, marketing, ethics, and organizational management, as well as general business courses in human resources, communication, organizational behavior, and human relations. Degree programs also require coursework in medical terminology, epidemiology, and anatomy and physiology, as well as an internship or practicum.

Some healthcare administration degree programs offer additional specializations that prepare you for specific roles within organizations. Specializations might include health information management, health law and policy, patient safety and quality, or marketing.

Learn more about what you can do with a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration.

Master’s in Healthcare Administration

If you aspire to a leadership role within a healthcare organization, a master’s in healthcare administration prepares you for the challenges you’ll face. Coursework focuses on giving you the tools and skills you need to manage the business aspects of healthcare, as well as manage teams. More specifically, master’s programs typically include courses in management, finance, and strategy, as well as healthcare law, ethics, and policy.

Earning an advanced degree in healthcare administration positions you for roles in the executive suite, including chief executive officer. Depending on your experience and the requirements of your program, you may complete a fellowship or practicum. Other programs require an original capstone project. You may also choose to specialize with a concentration. Some of the most common specializations include management operations and leadership, health policy, health financial management, health information technology, quality of care, and compliance.

Learn more about what you can do with a master’s degree in healthcare administration.

Doctorate in Healthcare Administration

Earning a doctorate in healthcare administration provides in-depth theoretical and practical knowledge that places you as an expert in the field. Coursework typically covers advanced concepts in economics and finance, change management, quality improvement, and healthcare regulations, policy, and reform. An original research project and dissertation, and sometimes a comprehensive exam, are required of doctoral candidates.

Earning a doctorate prepares you for the highest levels of leadership, including CEO roles. Some doctorates also become professors, educating the next generation of administrators.

You have two options for a terminal degree in healthcare administration: a doctor of healthcare administration (DHA) or a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) in healthcare administration. The DHA is an applied research degree in which candidates apply existing evidence and knowledge to problems in the field. Ph.D. candidates conduct original research to add new knowledge to the field.

Generally speaking, a Ph.D. program is best for someone who wants to work in academia, or the research field, while the DHA is well-suited for those who wish to work as leaders in healthcare organizations.

Learn more about what you can do with a doctorate in healthcare administration.

What Can You Do With a Healthcare Administration Degree?

A healthcare administration degree is versatile and prepares you for a variety of career opportunities within any healthcare organization. The higher your degree level, the more options that are available to you. For example, an associate degree prepares you for entry-level careers, while a graduate healthcare administration degree can move you into the executive suite.

Some healthcare administration programs offer the option to specialize. For example, you may choose to focus your studies on health policy, finance, quality, human resources, or another area. Doing so positions you for specific roles within healthcare organizations, but there is typically some flexibility.

Earning a degree in healthcare administration doesn’t limit you to a career in a healthcare organization. Your skills and experience can lead to careers in other fields, including entrepreneurship, media, government, nonprofit management, public health, and more.

Careers With an Associate or Bachelor’s Degree in Healthcare Administration

Earning an entry-level degree in healthcare administration prepares you for career paths in a variety of settings, from hospitals and doctor’s offices to research labs, public health agencies, nonprofits, and more.

The following are just a few of the career options with an entry-level degree.

Medical coders ensure that all procedures and patient conditions are properly coded for billing, analytics, and patient care purposes, while billers submit insurance claims and bill patients for services. They may work with hospitals, doctor’s offices, or insurance companies.

  • Minimum degree required: Associate
  • Certification required: Varies by organization but may include Certified Professional Coder (CPC), Certified Coding Associate (CCA), or Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT)
  • Salary: $45,240

Medical secretaries put their specialized knowledge of medical terminology and healthcare administration to work in healthcare settings. They might make appointments, manage medical records and documentation, and oversee billing, in addition to other tasks.

  • Minimum degree required: Associate
  • Certification required: None
  • Salary: $35,760

Health office managers coordinate the daily operations for healthcare practices or clinics. They may provide administrative or clerical support, coordinate scheduling of staff and patients, handle insurance verifications, and oversee staff hiring and training.

  • Minimum degree required: Bachelor’s
  • Certification required (if any):
  • Salary: $87,920

Medical transcriptionists convert physician voice recordings taken during office visits or procedures into written reports.

  • Minimum degree required: Associate
  • Certification required: Optional Registered Healthcare Documentation Specialist (RHDS) or Certified Healthcare Documentation Specialist (CHDS)
  • Salary: $35,270

Careers With a Graduate Degree in Healthcare Administration

Earning a graduate degree in healthcare administration can position you for a variety of career paths. Although some organizations hire individuals with a bachelor’s degree and extensive experience for leadership roles, in most cases a master’s degree or higher is necessary. The options are wide ranging, though, and include careers in hospitals, public health organizations, nonprofits, and even research labs.

Consider some of the following executive-level healthcare administration roles.

Regulatory affairs directors ensure that healthcare organizations are compliant with all applicable rules and requirements. They communicate with regulatory agencies and coordinate an overall strategy that prevents non-compliance. Directors also oversee the completion of all applications for licenses and approvals and liaise with the leadership team to ensure compliance throughout the organization.

Hospital CEOs are the ultimate authority in the organization, overseeing finances, policy development, leadership training and staffing, and relations with stakeholders outside of the hospital. CEOs supervise a team of executives who share the same goal of delivering high-quality, efficient healthcare to patients.

  • Minimum degree required: Bachelor’s; advanced degree preferred
  • Certification required: None
  • Salary: $185,950

Insurance directors oversee health insurance programs and operations within the healthcare organization. This might include contracting, managing claims and payments, and developing strategies to limit the organization’s risk.

  • Minimum degree required: Bachelor’s
  • Certification required: None
  • Salary: $130,600

Clinical informatics managers collect and analyze healthcare data and turn it into actionable insights for leaders. They are focused on improving quality and efficiency, helping develop, design, and implementing data-driven programs.

Nursing home administrators oversee operations of long-term care facilities. This includes facility maintenance, finance, staffing, admissions, and patient care.

Healthcare consultants work independently or as part of an agency, sharing their expertise and guidance with healthcare organizations. They may work with hospitals, healthcare systems, insurance companies, biotech companies, and more to help with strategic planning, quality improvement, problem-solving, or other issues.

Clinical directors are experienced nurses who oversee a specific clinical area, such as women’s health or surgery. They oversee staff, set goals and policies for the department, develop budgets, and evaluate quality.

  • Minimum degree required: RN, Master’s
  • Certification required:
  • Salary: $104,280
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Frequently Asked Questions About Healthcare Administration Degrees

Some questions may arise as you consider the pros and cons of nursing unions. Here are a few frequently asked questions.

Is a healthcare administration degree worth it?

Earning a degree in healthcare administration can give you an edge in a competitive job market, and position you for a well-paying job. It’s a largely recession-proof field, and with the ever-changing healthcare landscape, demand for knowledgeable professionals to lead healthcare organizations into the future will remain high.

Is healthcare administration a good career?

Whether a career is a “good” option is subjective, but based on factors like pay, growth opportunities, and the diversity of job options, it’s easy to argue that healthcare administration is a good career. A healthcare administration degree can also open doors to other fields, including public policy, entrepreneurship, and management.

How much do entry-level healthcare administrators make?

Salary ranges for healthcare administrators vary considerably based on experience, job duties, and employer. On average, though, entry-level roles pay an average salary of $58,000, while experienced administrators with advanced degrees earn average salaries of $95,000 or more.

Does healthcare administration require a lot of math?

Because most healthcare administration roles require some level of financial management, expect to complete several math and finance courses in a degree program. Most require coursework in statistics, finance, business analysis, and accounting.

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Reviewed by:

Portrait of Shrilekha Deshaies, MSN, CCRN, RN

Shrilekha Deshaies, MSN, CCRN, RN

Shri Deshaies is a nurse educator with over 20 years of experience teaching in hospital, nursing school, and community settings. Deshaies’ clinical area of expertise is critical care nursing and she is a certified critical care nurse. She has worked in various surgical ICUs throughout her career, including cardiovascular, trauma, and neurosurgery.

Shri Deshaies is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education freelance review network. Learn more about our review partners.


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