You don't have to be a nurse or doctor to save lives. Healthcare is a complex, varied and rapidly growing sector, which means there are all kinds of professional opportunities for you to play a part in delivering service, treatment, support, and access to patients and participants. A degree in Healthcare Administration can help you realize one of these opportunities.
If you see yourself working on the business side of medicine, this is the degree path for you. This course of study will prepare you to work in areas like operations, finances, and human resources for hospitals, clinics, and a host of other healthcare environments. Whether you see yourself working in the IT department for a midsize outpatient facility or you aspire to oversee operations for a multi-site corporate health system, your path begins with a degree in healthcare administration, where you'll study overarching topics like business management, strategic planning and organizational leadership as well as discipline-specific subjects like public health policy, medical ethics and healthcare labor administration.
One of the big draws to a job in healthcare is the chance it gives you to help others. It doesn't hurt, of course, that this is also one of the fastest growing job fields out there. Healthcare administration is an excellent path if you have a heart for helping others and a mind for business.
Bear one thing in mind as you proceed. There are a lot of related degrees, as well as similar degrees that go by different names. The name of your degree program may be specific to your school or your area of specialization. Degrees in Healthcare Management, Health Information Technology and Health Informatics will often have overlapping subject matter and curriculum.
Now, let's get started on the path to your degree. You can begin by checking out The 25 Best Online Bachelor's in Healthcare Management Degree Programs or The 50 Best Medical and Pharmacy Programs in the World Today.
If your focus is in the area of nursing, you might also be interested in The 50 Best RN to BSN Online Programs.
If you need a little more information, continue on.
Covered in this article:
- What do I need to know about accreditation?
- What kinds of Healthcare Administration degrees are there?
- What can I do with a Healthcare Administration degree?
- How much can I make with a Healthcare Administration degree?
- What Professional Healthcare Administration Associations or Societies should I join?
Let's start with the one thing you absolutely must be sure of before you proceed: accreditation.
What Kind of Accreditation Should My Degree Program Have?
The last thing you want to do is waste time and money on a degree that won't be taken seriously by future employers. That's why it is absolutely imperative that you make sure your school has the proper accreditation before you proceed.
As with most other higher education disciplines, accreditation is of critical importance in determining where to obtain a Healthcare Administration degree. Program accreditation is granted by accrediting agencies that are formally recognized by the Department of Education. Only accredited colleges or universities are eligible for financial aid.
Moreover, accreditation typically indicates that an institution is not only maintaining its standards but that it continues to advance and remain current within its field. As you proceed in your search, you'll find both institutional accreditation and program accreditation. The former refers to school-wide accreditation and the latter refers to the accreditation conferred upon your specific discipline and degree program.
Regional Accrediting Agencies
The institutional accrediting sector is divided into regional and national accrediting agencies. Generally, regional accrediting agencies confer greater credibility and merit. When you’re investigating a college or university, you’ll want to look for the “stamp of approval” from one of the following regional accrediting agencies:
- The Higher Learning Commission
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges
Healthcare Administration is a broad discipline that allows for many different areas of specialization and varying avenues for professional opportunity. This variance means that there is no single preeminent programmatic accreditation agency for healthcare administration. There are a few reputable accreditation groups that can be a positive indication of quality and credibility. Tops among them are:
- The Association of University Programs in Health Administration (AUPHA); and
- The Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME)
While these accreditations are useful, they aren't necessarily mandatory. Absence of one of these accreditations is not a deal-breaker as long as your program is housed within an institution that is accredited by one of the regional accreditation associations listed in the section above. To reiterate, one of these regional accreditations should be treated as mandatory.
The easiest way to determine accreditation status is to contact your school of choice. You can also take a look at the Department of Education's database of all recognized accreditors within its purview.
To learn a little more about navigating the tricky accreditation landscape, check out Accreditation of Colleges and Universities: Who's Accrediting the Accreditors?
Now that you get the idea, let's take a look at some of your degree options.
What Kinds of Healthcare Administration Degrees Are There?
Associate Degree in Healthcare Administration
This 60-credit program usually takes about two years to complete. For those seeking entry-level employment in the medical field, it's well worth the investment. You'll gain introductory level education into the business operations, legal principles, and ethical parameters surrounding healthcare as well as some basic education in human pathology, health statistics and computer skills. An associate degree in healthcare administration will qualify you right away for work in many hospital, mental health, or nursing home facilities. And if you ultimately plan to advance toward a leadership role in the field, you'll have a leg up in eventual pursuit of a bachelor's or master's degree.
What Courses Will I Take?
- Business Administration
- Healthcare Management
- Medical Law and Ethics
- Medical Terminology
- Introduction to Anatomy
What's the Difference between an AA and an AS in Healthcare Administration?
As Associate of Arts (AA) Degree in Healthcare Administration will typically combine discipline-specific courses with a courseload of humanities and liberal arts requirements. By contrast, the Associate of Science (AS) in Healthcare Administration will incorporate more math and science requirements.
Now that you know what to look for, check out The 10 Best Online Associate's in Healthcare Administration Degree Programs.
You might also be interested in The 25 Best Online Associate in Health Information Technology Degree Programs or The 10 Best Online Medical Assisting Associate's Degree Programs.
Bachelor of Healthcare Administration
A Bachelor's Degree in Healthcare Administration places you in a high-demand field. Advances in technology, constant shifts in policy, growing organizational complexity and a host of other factors have created an array of new and mounting challenges in the healthcare sector. This 120-credit degree—which typically requires a minimum of four years to complete—will prepare you to face these challenges. In addition to introductory instruction in health management and business administration, you'll have a chance to study advanced subjects like public health regulations, medical accounting, medical records management, and healthcare quality assurance. You'll also have a chance to choose a concentration, whether your interest is in community health, emergency health systems, long-term care, home care, or any of the countless contexts where administrative skills are in demand. A bachelor's degree will qualify you for most entry level administrative, support and resource roles as well as for many advanced technical, clerical or departmental leadership positions.
What Courses Will I Take?
- Healthcare Administration
- Advanced Health Systems
- Record Keeping and Information Systems
- Employment and Medical Law
- Medical Accounting
- Healthcare Marketing and Communication
- Human Resource Management
- Medical Law and Ethics
What's the Difference between a BA and a BS in Healthcare Administration?
As with an Associate Degree, a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Healthcare Administration will typically include a parallel focus in the humanities and liberal arts. A Bachelor of Science (BS) in Healthcare Administration will include more math and science coursework. If you see yourself working in medical records, medical statistics or health IT, you might be better suited by the latter of these degrees.
Now that you know a bit more, check out The 25 Best Online Bachelor's in Healthcare Management Degree Programs or The 30 Best Online Bachelor's in Healthcare Administration Degree Programs.
You might also be interested in The 25 Best Bachelor's in Health Sciences Degree Programs and The 20 Best Online Bachelor's in Health Informatics Degree Programs.
Master of Healthcare Administration
If you see yourself ultimately becoming a part of the executive management structure for your organization, you'll want to consider pursuing a Master's Degree in Healthcare Administration. Though a bachelor's degree can place you in the running for a wide number of roles in a fast-growing field, your master's degree could unlock another tier of earning potential. Your program could range anywhere between 32 and 60 credits, which will typically take two years to complete. Some areas of specialization may extend the length of your studies up to four years. During your studies, you gain an advanced understanding of health systems, technology and information as well as high level instruction in business leadership and administration. Your masters will qualify you to serve in top administrative roles in a wide range of healthcare settings including emergency, acute, long-term, and mental health facilities. This is also a recommended course of study if you ultimately plan to pursue a PhD and a career in healthcare research.
What Courses Will Will I Take?
- Business Research Analysis
- Financial Analysis and Management
- Healthcare Policy
- Healthcare Marketing and Communication
- Healthcare Process Management
- Healthcare Governance
- Population Health
- Strategic Planning
Now that you know a bit more, check out
The 25 Best Online Master's of Healthcare Administration Degree Programs and The 25 Best Online MBA in Healthcare Management Degree Programs.
You might also be interested in The 25 Best Online Master's in Healthcare Informatics Degree Programs, the 20 Best Online Master of Public Health Degree Programs, and The 25 Best Online Master's in Nursing Administration Degree Programs.
PhD of Healthcare Administration
A PhD in Healthcare Administration is largely reserved for those interested in either pursuing a professorship in healthcare management and leadership or those who will ultimately forge a career in research. This is the path for you if you would like to contribute directly to public policy and research discussions, either through work with a government-funded agency, a non-profit, a research institute, an insurance firm, a think tank or the wide array of other participants who engage in advanced research. Your area of focus, the length of time to completion and your responsibilities both with regard to a thesis and on-the-job training will vary depending upon your program and professional ambitions.
What can I do with a Healthcare Administration degree?
Healthcare and healthcare administration are rapidly growing fields. Advances in technology, ever-changing public policies, and growing organizational complexity have created a wide range of job opportunities as well as a growing demand for skilled professionals to fill these roles.
Your Healthcare Administration degree could qualify you for a broad spectrum of Healthcare Careers. Here are a few of the top jobs in your field:
- Cardiovascular/Vascular Technologists/Technicians
- Diagnostic Medical Sonographers
- EMTs and Paramedics
- Home Health/Personal Care Aids
- Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN)
- Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)
- Medical and Clinical Lab Tech
- Medical and Health Services Manager
- Medical Assistant
- Medical Records/Health Information Tech
- Medical Transcriptionist
- Nursing Aid/Attendant
- Physician's Attendant
- Psychiatric Aid/Technician
- Radiation Therapist
- Radiologic Technologist
- Registered Nurse
What kind of salary can I earn with a Healthcare Administration degree?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that the healthcare administration sector has a projected job growth outlook of 20% through 2026, a rage which it identifies as much faster than the average field of employment. Though your earning potential will vary depending upon the level of degree you seek, the Bureau offers a largely positive salary outlook for healthcare administration professionals.
- Medical and Health Services Managers—Median Pay, 2016: $96,540
- Administrative Service Manager—Median Pay, 2016: $90,050
- Computer and Information Systems Managers—Median Pay, 2016: $135,800
- Financial Managers—Median Pay, 2016: $121,750
- Medical Records and Health Information Technicians—Median Pay, 2016: $38,040
- Healthcare Firm Executives—Median Pay, 2016: $103,950
Are There Professional Healthcare Administration Associations or Societies I should join?
Professional Associations are a fantastic way to make connections in your field, learn about valuable seminars or certifications, and improve your own credentials. The association or associations you choose to join will depend to an extent on the career path you take. Look for Healthcare Administration associations that correspond with your academic or professional concentration. Below are a few key associations. Check these out for key resources, literature and networking opportunities.
- Association for Healthcare Administrative Professionals
- American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management
- Healthcare Administrators Association
- American College of Healthcare Administrators
- American College of Healthcare Executives
- American Hospital Association
- Institute for Healthcare Improvement
- National Association of Health Services Executives
- Association of University Programs in Health Administration
Now that you know a bit more about how to earn a Degree in Healthcare Administration, jump to our ranking of The 25 Best Online Bachelor's in Healthcare Management Degree Programs or The 50 Best Medical and Pharmacy Programs in the World Today and find the best school school for you!