How to Become A Healthcare Manager
Healthcare is projected to be the country’s fastest- growing job in coming years and careers in healthcare management are expected to keep pace, increasing at a rate that outruns the nation’s overall job growth and at more than three times the rate for all management positions.
Whether you already work in healthcare and are seeking a different job or a new challenge, or you want to enter a business management profession in high demand, healthcare management provides job growth, high pay and a career stairway for advancement.
Education Requirements for Healthcare Management
A bachelor’s degree in health administration is the first key, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Anyone seeking a healthcare management degree would do well to take courses that include accounting, health economics, hospital management, human resources administration, hospital organization and health information systems, the agency said.
But typically an MBA in healthcare management provides the main propulsion for a career. Master’s degrees in public health, long-term care administration, health services and even business administration also can give an entry into the field, the BLS said.
The agency said, for example, a nursing administrator may have some management experience as a supervisory registered nurse and have a master’s degree in healthcare management or administration.
Graduate programs may take two to three years and include a year of supervised administrative experience, according to the BLS.
Some graduate programs also include a specialization for positions at specific facilities such as a hospital or nursing care facility.
New Healthcare Management Programs Becoming Available
More colleges and universities are trying to accommodate the expected need for healthcare managers by offering more programs in the field.
The EducationNews.org website said there were 203 schools nationwide offering healthcare management programs from the certificate level to doctorate programs in 2006.
The Association of University Programs in Health Administration now lists more than 150 schools on its website that offer master’s degree programs in healthcare administration and 110 with programs for a bachelor’s degree.
Graduates of healthcare management programs frequently begin careers in a large facility as administrative assistants or assistant department heads. In a smaller hospital, early jobs may be as department heads or assistant administrators, according to the BLS.
A number of colleges also offer a healthcare management certificate often aimed at people with a degree such as nurses, lab technicians, or physician assistants who want to further their education, have been promoted to a management position or want to shift from direct care to administration.
The certificates can act as a bridge between a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in healthcare management and some schools may count a portion of the courses in the certificate program toward a graduate degree.
Pay and Job Outlook for Healthcare Administrators
Pay for healthcare management jobs lags slightly behind the median pay for all management positions, according to the BLS, but can increase significantly depending on the size of the facility and range of duties.
The agency said the median pay, with half the salaries higher and half lower, for healthcare management workers is $84,000. The median pay for all management positions is $91,000, the BLS said.
However, the federal agency cited a report by the Medical Group Management Association in 2010 that administrators in facilities with up to six doctors had a median pay of $86,000 but went up to $115,000 in facilities having seven to 25 doctors and reached $150,000 in facilities with more than 25.
The need for people to fill healthcare management jobs is expected to increase along with healthcare’s overall growth through 2020. The BLS said job growth in the management field should rise about 22% and the entire healthcare field at 33%, or 5.7 million new jobs.
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