Hospital Administrator

Complex healthcare facilities, including hospitals, clinics, public health offices, and managed healthcare centers, require trained and skilled management staff to ensure quality patient care. In many of these facilities, hospital administrators are employed to oversee the facility, staff, and operations. 

Hospital administrators carry a lot of responsibility to make sure that a healthcare center runs smoothly. Duties can include managing budgets, hiring staff, ensuring compliance with applicable laws, meeting with senior staff, proposing new workflows, and auditing efficiencies and quality of care. In order to do this job, hospital administrators have typically earned a master’s degree in either healthcare administration or in business administration with an emphasis in healthcare management.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2021) classifies hospital administrators as medical and health service managers. Between 2020 and 2030, the BLS estimates that there will be a 32 percent increase in jobs in this field. This significant demand is due to two factors. The first is an aging and retiring workforce is leaving a gap that needs to be filled. The second is the large Baby Boomer population that is also aging and retiring, placing an increased demand on healthcare.

This can be a lucrative career as medical and health service managers earn $118,800 on average (BLS May 2020). However, there is a possibility for much higher earning as the top 90 percent of earners in this career make $195,630 per year or more. 

If this high responsibility management job sounds interesting, continue reading to learn exactly what it takes to step into this career.

Hospital Administrator Specializations & Degree Types

Aspiring hospital administrators must complete a master’s degree. The most commonly earned degrees are a master’s of health administration (MHA) or a master’s of business administration (MBA) with a focus on healthcare management. 

Aspiring hospital administrators should look for a program that has a partnership with a local hospital or clinic affiliations. In these programs, students can complete an internship that will provide them with the hands-on experience they are looking for.

Admissions Requirements for Hospital Administrator Programs

Admission requirements for hospital administrator programs vary based on the type of degree pursued. Master’s of health administration degrees may have different requirements than MBAs with a focus on healthcare administration. However, often these requirements can be very similar. Here are some of the popular requirements for admission to MHA and MBA programs:

  • Already having completed a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university
  • Work experience
  • Prerequisite coursework
  • Letters of recommendation
  • GRE or GMAT test scores
  • A statement of purpose
  • A completed application
  • An application fee

Hospital Administrator Program Accreditation

When considering a master’s program to pursue a career as a hospital administrator, it is essential to ensure that the program has been accredited by either a regional accrediting agency or a programmatic one. Regional accreditation is for the university as a whole, while programmatic accreditation is for the degree awarded specifically.

Master’s of health administration degree programs are accredited by Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME). Master’s of business administration programs are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), and International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE).

On-Campus Hospital Administrator Degree Programs

University of Illinois, Chicago – School of Public Health

The master’s in healthcare administration at the University of Illinois, Chicago, is housed in the School of Public Health. Students in this program will learn the core knowledge for the major healthcare industries, including hospitals. Classes are taught by expert academic healthcare faculty, as well as outstanding practitioners in the field. 

A hallmark of this program is a 12-month preceptorship where students spend a minimum of 25 hours a week working at a healthcare organization under the supervision and guidance of a preceptor. This allows students to gain valuable work experience while still completing their degrees. In total, students must complete 60 credits of coursework in order to earn this degree.   

  • Location: Chicago, IL
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME)
  • Tuition: $12,369 per semester

University of Washington

The University of Washington’s master’s in healthcare management is ranked 15th in the country by US News & World Report. This rigorous on-campus program is typically completed in two years of full-time study. Students are required to complete 25 courses in total, for a total of 76 credits. These credits include a full-time summer internship to be completed between the first and second years of the program. 

This program also offers students the opportunity to complete their MHA concurrently with another degree program. The concurrent degree program options currently include juris doctor, medical doctor, master’s in business administration, and master’s of public health. 

Admission requirements for this degree include a bachelor’s degree, proof of English proficiency, and a 3.0 undergraduate GPA. The most competitive applicants will also have at least one year of healthcare-related work experience. 

  • Location: Seattle, WA
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME)
  • Tuition: $861 per credit 

University of Pennsylvania – Wharton School of Business

The prestigious Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania offers students the opportunity to complete a master’s in business administration in healthcare management. The Wharton School of Business is ranked as the second-best business school in the country by US News & World Report. Graduates of this program are well suited for careers in management, consulting, and investing in healthcare-related industries. 

Students must select this major when they apply to Wharton, and they must be accepted to this specific track. This program also offers dual degree options, which means students can complete their MBA concurrently with another degree such as a medical doctor (MD). 

Admission to this program is highly competitive, and students must undergo a rigorous application process, including an interview with both the MBA program and the healthcare management track.

  • Location: Philadelphia, PA 
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  • Tuition: $83,230 per credit year

University of Michigan – School of Public Health

Students attending the University of Michigan School of Public Health can complete a master’s of health service administration degree. The curriculum of this program is centered on key core competencies in professionalism, health policy, and healthcare management. 

With a combination of core courses and electives, students are able to tailor their education to their interests. During the final semester of this degree, students will complete an Integrated Learning Experience (ILE) where they complete an actual consulting project for a real client. 

Between the first and second years of this program, students are expected to complete a 10- to 12-week internship. Placements are facilitated by the school. Admission requirements to this program include a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Qualified applicants will be invited to attend a visit day to learn more about the program and be evaluated by the faculty. 

  • Location: Ann Arbor, MI
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME)
  • Tuition: $25,530 per term

The Ohio State University – College of Public Health

With over 45 years of excellence, the master’s of health administration at Ohio State University’s College of Public Health prepares students for leadership roles in healthcare. A unique aspect of this program is that all students are required to take a course where they are assigned to a clinical care team at the OSU Wexner Medical Center. Not only does this provide students practical experience, but it also gives them a unique insight into patient care processes. 

All students must also complete an administrative residency between their first and second years of study. The residency is designed to help students develop leadership skills as well as develop practical knowledge of healthcare management processes. More than 95 percent of graduates of this program have received a job placement prior to graduation.  

  • Location: Columbus, OH
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME)
  • Tuition: $4,635 per semester 

Online or Hybrid Hospital Administrator Degree Program

George Washington University – Milken Institute School of Public Health

Since 2014, George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health has been offering a world-class online master’s of health administration. While the bulk of this program can be completed through distance learning, students will have to travel for four immersion experiences on healthcare policy and regulation. One of these immersions takes place on Capitol Hill; another is at a healthcare facility; and the remainder are on campus. 

Academically speaking, the online degree is identical to the residential program also offered here. Courses are arranged into eight- to ten-week learning modules, helping students to pace themselves. To complete this degree, students will complete an organizational research project. 

To be considered for admissions to this program, candidates must have at least two years of health sector work experience as well and be currently employed in a health-related job. 

  • Location: Washington, DC
  • Duration: Two to four years
  • Accreditation: Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME)
  • Tuition: $1,765 per credit 

University of Hawai’i Shidler College of Business

The executive master of business administration in healthcare management at the University of Hawai’i Shidler College of Business helps students understand the dynamic changing landscape of healthcare. The bulk of this program is offered through distance learning, allowing students to complete their degrees without having to relocate. However, there are a total of 14 in-person Saturday classes students must attend. There is a stipend for travel available for students who live on neighboring islands. 

Students complete this program in lockstep with a cohort, which helps develop strong peer relationships. This program also offers an option to concurrently complete a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree. This dual program is a total of three years instead of two. Since this is an executive program, candidates for admission must have at least five years of relevant work experience in order to be considered. 

  • Location: Honolulu, HI
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  • Tuition: $54,480 for the entire program

University of Saint Mary 

Graduates of the online master’s in business administration health administration program at the University of Saint Mary are poised to be leaders in their field. This program has an accelerated track, allowing students to earn their degree in as little as one year. 

In total, students will complete 33 credits of coursework, including eight core courses and three courses in healthcare management. Each class is offered in an intensive eight-week format, and most students take two courses at a time. A comprehensive final assessment is required to graduate and demonstrates a student’s competency in the classes completed.  

There are no work experience requirements for this degree. Students can apply for admission if they have already earned a bachelor’s degree and have an undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or higher. Other application materials that must be submitted include a current resume, a signed academic honesty statement, and a completed application. 

  • Location: Leavenworth, KS 
  • Duration: As little as one year
  • Accreditation: International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE)
  • Tuition: $595 per credit 

Medical University of South Carolina – College of Health Professions 

With the online executive master’s of health administration at the Medical University of South Carolina College of Health Professions, students can advance their studies without having to relocate or quit their jobs. The accelerated track can be completed in just four consecutive semesters, while the full-time program takes two years and the part-time, at least three. 

Regardless of the format chosen, students must complete a total of 54 credits of coursework. Required classes include healthcare accounting, quality management of healthcare services, healthcare reimbursement systems, and health economics. Candidates for admission must already have a bachelor’s degree and at least two years of healthcare work experience.

  • Location: Charleston, SC 
  • Duration: As little as four semesters for the accelerated track
  • Accreditation: Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME)
  • Tuition: $983 per credit 

University of North Carolina – Gillings School of Global Public Health

The University of North Carolina first introduced executive master’s programs to their offerings in 1960 and has been teaching health policy and management since 1936. 

Their executive master’s of health administration has brought this legacy into the modern age with all online classes. Classes in this program are taught live, typically on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. This allows students to interact with their peers as well as get valuable face time with the world-class faculty in this program.  

Although classes are primarily offered online, students are expected to travel to campus for three sessions each year. This program is designed for working professionals, but they caution that it is essential to have clear expectations with employers about the necessity to travel to campus as well as the demands of the program. Applicants must be currently employed in health and human services and, ideally, already have managerial experience. 

  • Location: Chapel Hill, NC
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME)
  • Tuition: $1,602.45 per credit

How Long Does it Take to Become a Hospital Administrator?

Since most hospital administrators must complete a master’s degree, it typically takes at least six years of education post-high school to enter this field. However, the time it takes largely depends on the length of the master’s program, which can be as short as a year and as long as four years.

How To Become a Hospital Administrator – Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Graduate from High School or Complete a GED (Four Years)

The first step in a career as a hospital administrator is to earn a high school diploma or GED since one or the other is required for most bachelor’s degree programs. Earning a diploma or GED demonstrates a commitment to a course of education. 

Step 2: Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree (Four Years) 

The next step in the educational journey of a hospital administrator is to complete a bachelor’s degree. This degree typically takes four years to complete and can be in a wide range of subjects. 

Typical majors for aspiring hospital administrators include business, biology, chemistry, public health, social work, or even psychology. Some master’s programs have prerequisite coursework, so students should ensure they complete the necessary classes to be eligible for admission.  

Step 3: Complete a Master’s (Timelines Vary)

Most hospital administrators have a master’s degree. The two most popular degrees are a master’s of health administration or a master’s of business administration with a focus on healthcare management. 

Step 4: Obtain Certification (Optional, Timelines Vary)

Certification for hospital administrators is optional, although it can be advantageous for employability or advancement opportunities. See the certification and licensure sedition below for more details. 

What Do Hospital Administrators Do?

As the job title suggests, hospital administrators work in hospitals, but they can also be found in private practices, clinics, managed healthcare facilities, and public health offices. Typical day-to-day duties can include:

  • Writing budgets and setting rates for services
  • Hiring, training, and evaluating staff
  • Fundraising for capital projects or patient assistance programs
  • Meeting with senior staff, community leaders, and elected officials
  • Writing organizational strategy for the facility
  • Ensuring the facility and staff operate in compliance with all applicable laws
  • Developing new policies for improved patient care and workflow

Hospital Administrator Certifications & Licensure

Certification is optional for hospital administrators. However, earning a certification can demonstrate a high level of competency in the field to potential or current employers. As a result, certifications can help professionals get hired, earn higher wages, and have more advancement opportunities. 

There are specialized health manager certifications in fields such as quality assurance, compliance, finance, and IT. The two primary general health manager certifications are the Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE) certificate and the Certified Medical Manager (CMM) certification from the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management.

There are currently no state licensing requirements for hospital administrators, although it should be noted that long-term care facility managers must be licensed in all 50 states. Therefore, aspiring hospital managers should consult with their local licensing boards to ensure they have the necessary qualifications for the facility they work at and the role they fill.

How Much Do Hospital Administrators Make?

Hospital administrators are classified by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as health medical and health services managers. (BLS May 2020). The 402,540 medical services managers in the US earn $118,800 per year on average. Here are the percentiles:

  • 10th percentile: $59,980
  • 25th percentile: $78,820
  • 50th percentile (median): $104,280
  • 75th percentile: $139,650
  • 90th percentile: $195,630

Hospital Administrators Career Alternatives

Here are a few alternatives to a career as a hospital administrator. 

Become a Nursing Home Administrator

Nursing home administrators are the backbone of long-term care facilities. They have typically earned a master’s in health administration and are responsible for budgets, staffing, marketing, and facility management. Nursing home administrators must be licensed in most states. 

  • Typical Education: Master’s degree 
  • Licensing or Certifying Organization: National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Board (NAB)

Become a Clinical Trial Manager

Successful clinical trials are run by skilled clinical trial managers. These highly trained professionals are responsible for hiring staff, recruiting participants, ordering supplies, and meeting regulatory compliance standards. While most professionals in this field have a master’s, it is possible to find entry-level work with a bachelor’s

  • Typical Education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Licensing or Certifying Organization: Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) and the Society of Clinical Research Associates (SOCRA)

Become a Healthcare Compliance Officer

Healthcare is a complicated maze of regulations from state, local, and federal agencies as well as insurance companies. Large healthcare organizations hire healthcare compliance officers to ensure there is accurate record keeping that follows applicable laws. They also perform audits and propose policy changes to ensure standards are upheld. 

  • Typical Education: Master’s degree
  • Licensing or Certifying Organization: Compliance Certification Board (CCB)
Kimmy Gustafson

Kimmy Gustafson

Writer

Kimmy is a freelance writer with extensive experience writing about healthcare careers and education. She has worked in public health, at health-focused nonprofits, and as a Spanish interpreter for doctor’s offices and hospitals. She has a passion for learning and that drives her to stay up to date on the latest trends in healthcare. When not writing or researching, she can be found pursuing her passions of nutrition and an active outdoors lifestyle.

Related Articles

  • 25 October 2021

    Healthcare Career Scholarship Guide (2021-2022)

    High-quality education comes at a price. It’s common for students to take large amounts of debt to fulfill their higher education dreams and it can take decades to pay off student loans. Fortunately for students in health-related careers, there are ample opportunities available for mitigating these financial burdens.

  • 30 July 2021

    National Community Health Center Week 2021: An Advocacy Guide for Providers

    Community health centers, which are also known as Federally-Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) or community clinics, are a vital force for widening healthcare access, reducing inequality, and improving health equity in America.

  • 22 April 2021

    Genetic Counseling and the Fight for H.R. 3235

    There’s intrigue surrounding the prospect of having your DNA analyzed, but discovering one’s genetic predispositions to diseases should be treated seriously.

  • 3 February 2021

    Issues in Clinical Documentation: Voice Technology and AI

    Together, it’s believed that medical voice technology and artificial intelligence can liberate medical care providers from an immense documentation burden. Patients and providers can rest assured that the care rendered in partnership with these technologies is personal, efficient, effective, and equitable.

  • 7 January 2021

    The Healthcare Industry Trends You Need to Know in 2021

    The healthcare industry may look radically different in 2021. After a yearlong battle with the Covid-19 pandemic, healthcare organizations and healthcare professionals will begin the transition into the next normal. What lessons will carry over, and what legacy systems will be retired?

  • 10 September 2020

    Mentors in Health: Interview with a Healthcare Compliance Expert

    The National Healthcare Anti-Fraud Association estimates that healthcare fraud costs the nation at least $68 billion annually or about 3 percent of the nation’s $2.26 trillion in healthcare spending.

  • 16 July 2020

    Health Careers on the Rise: Medical Science Liaisons at Cannabis Companies

    Most cannabis-related jobs currently support the sale of recreational or medicinal cannabis, but the next wave of cannabis-related jobs could come from the more established—and more lucrative—pharmaceutical industry.