Healthcare Degree Search
The population in the United States over 65 is slated to double by 2050, increasing demands for long-term care facilities. Roughly 69 percent of the country will be in long-term care at some point in their lives (Administration of Aging, LongTermCare.gov). Not surprisingly, the demand for nursing home administrators is growing as they are the ones who ensure that the business side of these nursing homes is running smoothly. They are responsible for a range of duties, including budgeting, staffing, facilities management, patient satisfaction, and compliance.
Careers in medical and health services management—including positions in nursing home administration—are expected to grow 18 percent from 2018 to 2028 creating over 70,000 new jobs (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2019). Professionals in the field have generally completed a bachelor’s degree in healthcare management, although more and more students are pursuing a master’s in health management degree to be more competitive in the job market.
Outstanding schools such as the University of Washington offer MHA programs that can be completed in two years. The average salary for professionals in this field is $99,730 per year (BLS 2019).
Licensing for nursing home administrators is done at the state level but is overseen by the National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Board (NAB), which administers the national test. Some states require administrator in training hours to be completed for licensure.
Continue reading to learn more about what it takes to become a nursing home administrator, job prospects in the field, education requirements, and steps to obtain a license.
Nursing Home Administrator Specializations & Degree Types
Nursing home administrators have typically earned either a bachelor’s or master’s degree at an accredited college or university. Undergraduate majors for this career include healthcare management, health administration, and administration in health systems, among others.
There are also various graduate-level degrees available, including a master’s of business administration (MBA) with an emphasis in healthcare administration or a master of health administration (MHA).
Specializations within this field include community health, long-term health administration, health informatics, and gerontology.
Admissions Requirements for Nursing Home Administrator Programs
Admission requirements for nursing home administrator programs vary from institution to institution. Most undergraduate programs require first-time college students to have completed high school or a GED. Students also typically are required to take certain high school courses in order to be eligible for admissions, such as foreign language and advanced math. SAT or ACT scores are required for most schools as well.
Master’s degree students may be required to submit GRE or GMAT scores, depending on the type of degree they are pursuing. Many programs require work experience prior to applying for an MBA or MHA degree so students will need to supply their resume. Depending on the program, letters of recommendation and personal statements may be required.
Nursing Home Administrator Program Accreditation
The National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Board (NAB) helps license, credential, and regulate administrators of long term care facilities. They have accredited programs in 14 schools across the country in nursing home administration (NHA), residential care/assisted living (RCAL), or health services executive qualification (HSE). These programs are both graduate and undergraduate degrees.
The Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) overseas individual program accreditation for master’s degrees in healthcare management. This governing agency promotes, improves, and evaluates graduate healthcare management degrees in the United States and Canada.
Overall, prospective students should ensure that their programs of interest are accredited by an organization with approval from the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), a national standard for academic quality.
On-Campus Nursing Home Administrator Degree Programs
Kent State offers a bachelor of science in human development and family studies with a concentration in nursing home administration. Students in this concentration take courses in accounting, management, and human resources, in addition to courses on gerontology, biology of aging, and death and dying. Overall, students are required to complete 36 core credits, six elective credits, and at least six general science credits to complete this degree.
Graduates will be qualified to work as administrators in long-term care facilities and will be eligible to sit for the national and state exams required to become a licensed nursing home administrator (LNHA).
- Location: Kent, OH
- Duration: Four years
- Accreditation: National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Board (NAB)
- Tuition: $20,007.04 per year
The master’s in health administration (MHA) at the University of Washington’s School of Public Health prepares students to become the healthcare leaders of tomorrow. Ranked number 15 nationally by US News & World Report,this program is designed for early-career professionals who want to pursue employment as health administrators. Students are required to complete 25 courses for a total of 76 credits, including a capstone project. Internships between the first and second years of study are required.
- Location: Seattle, Washington
- Duration: Two years
- Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME)
- Tuition: $821 per credit-hour
Online or Hybrid Nursing Home Administrator Degree Programs
Maryville University provides a 128-credit online bachelor of science (BS) in healthcare management with an optional certificate in senior living management. The core courses of the program provide instruction in healthcare informatics, healthcare terminology, patient partnerships and population health, and revenue cycle management, among others. The optional certificate (15 credits) adds coursework in Alzheimer’s and dementia care, assisted living housing management, aging and physiological adaptation, and related subjects. Notably, students can apply up to 12 credits of their undergraduate education to a graduate degree as part of the school’s “Early Access” program.
- Location: St. Louis, MO
- Duration: Four years
- Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- Tuition: $500 per credit
Business-minded students with a passion for healthcare can find the online master’s of health administration (MHA) at Suffolk University Boston to be a great fit. This program is designed for professionals already in the field seeking advancement and those wishing to pursue a new career in health management.
Students can complete this fully online program in 28 months. Through the course of their studies, students gain hands-on experience in the field, master analyzing data-driven business decisions, and learn from healthcare industry leaders excelling in the field.
- Location: Boston, MA
- Duration: 28 months
- Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME)
- Tuition: $1,171 per credit-hour
How Long Does it Take to Become a Nursing Home Administrator?
Depending on the level of education pursued, a person can expect to be able to become a nursing home administration in three to six years. The length of time depends largely on the state licensing requirements and how many administrator in training hours are required.
How To Become a Nursing Home Administrator – Step-by-Step Guide
Step 1: Graduate from High School (Four Years)
Since a secondary degree is required for a career in nursing home administration, students will need to complete high school. Business, science, and math classes in high school help prepare students for their continuing education.
Step 2: Earn a Degree in Health Administration (Two to Six Years)
Some states only require students to have earned an associate degree in order to be credentialed as a licensed nursing home administrator (LNHA), but the majority require at least a four-year degree. However, with the job market becoming more and more competitive, many students chose to pursue a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) or health administration (MHA) to gain more skills and a competitive advantage.
Step 3: Get Licensed (Timelines Vary)
Requirements for becoming a LNHA vary by state. Requirements for each state can be found on the National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Board (NAB) website. Eligibility to take the nursing home administration (NHA), resident care/assisted living (RCAL), and home- and community-based services (HCBS) exams is determined by each state.
National exam fees range from $175 to $425, whereas state exam fees can be up to $500 or more. In addition to the national exams, states sometimes require their own exams as well. Many states also require administrator in training hours which can vary from as few as 200 to as many as 2000.
What Do Nursing Home Administrators Do?
Nursing home administrators are the backbone of the business side of long-term care facilities. They must:
- Maintain and manage facilities
- Hire, train, evaluate, and schedule staff
- Oversee and manage facilities
- Supervise finances, including payroll, billing, and budgets
- Set and enforce policies
- Work with diverse populations, both in patients and staff
- Ensure disease control and prevention
- Control pharmaceuticals
- Manage family, patient, and staff grievances
- Oversee marketing
- Make sure federal, state, and local regulations are adhered to
- Protect patients rights
- Research and implement new technologies to benefit patients
Nursing Home Administrator Certifications & Licensure
Licensing to become a licensed nursing home administrator is done by individual states. The National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Board (NAB) oversees national level testing and administers the exams for the nursing home administration (NHA), resident care/assisted living (RCAL), and home and community-based services (HCBS) certifications.
How Much Do Nursing Home Administrators Make?
Nursing home administrators fall under “medical and health services” managers according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2019). There are over 400,000 professionals in this field and they earn $99,730 per year on average. The top 90 percent of earners in this field can make $182,600 per year or more, while the lower 10 percent of earners will bring in $58,680 or less.
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.