There are a lot of careers that fall under the umbrella term "healthcare administration." People working at the front desk of a doctor's office are just as much a part of this category as are high-ranking executives who run hospitals and serve on important committees. Because of the range of careers related to the major, there are a number of degree types that prepare students for a variety of positions in the industry.
One of the lower-level degrees a person can earn in the healthcare administration field is an associate's degree. These classes combine general education courses with vocational courses in subjects related to both healthcare and administration. Students have to take general education classes (sometimes called "gen. ed.'s" as part of the requirement for earning an associate's degree. This means that anyone, regardless of his major, has to learn about subjects like English, history, science, and math. In many cases these classes are helpful for people who want to be healthcare administrators. For example, taking a math class can help a person prepare for an office job where she will be in charge of accounting, finances, or payroll. Classes related to healthcare administration might include healthcare informatics, terminology, delivery systems, and administration and management. There are also often courses in regulations, policies, and laws. Earning such a degree prepares students for futures working as administrators in doctor's offices, long-term care facilities, or health clinics.
Bachelor's degrees are very similar to associate's degrees except that they generally take twice as long to complete. Students enroll in both general education and major-specific classes in order to get a well-rounded and comprehensive education. They learn about leadership, economics and finance, ethics, and human resources, as well as topics unique to the healthcare field. Sometimes schools allow students to have a "concentration" in which they narrow the focus of their degree beyond healthcare administration. Taking the step from associate's degree to bachelor's degree allows students to find work in management as opposed to just administration. People with four-year degrees can often find work managing nursing homes or long-term care facilities, working in public administration, or specializing in healthcare informatics. They can also work as office managers, hospital administrators, or practice administrators.
Some people choose to earn a master's degree in healthcare management in order to find work at a higher level position and/or to make themselves more competitive in the job market. Many programs at this level train students to eventually work as CEOs, CFOs, and in other high-ranking executive positions. Courses in master's degree programs might include human resources, marketing, ethics, law, finance, information systems, strategic planning, and hospital organization. Some programs also require students to participate in a year-long residency or to get a year of supervised administration experience. During this time hopeful administrators can learn from current healthcare executives, meet with potential employers, and network with important people in the industry. People who graduate with master's degrees in healthcare administration can work as health services managers, human resources managers, financial managers, or chief executive officers. They often earn over $84,000 a year, and CEOs can make more than $165,000 annually.
About the Author:
Iris Stone has worked as a freelance writer since 2011. Her writing has included content on medicine, healthcare, and education, although her interests are wide and varied. Prior to breaking into the freelance biz, Iris worked in sales for a health company and prior to that as an assistant in a chiropractic office. She is currently attending George Mason University and is majoring in Political Science. Check out her Google+ profile.