Like any business, health care requires effective leadership and sound management. Healthcare administrators are degreed professionals who are responsible for delivering quality health care services. What is the best bachelor's degree for a career in healthcare administration?
What is Healthcare Administration?
To determine the best college degree, it is important to understand the nature of healthcare administration. The profession is known by many names: health management, healthcare management, health systems management, medical and health services management and more.
Healthcare administrators are employed in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and health care networks or systems. They may oversee hundreds of employees as well as health care facilities and equipment. Some administrators are generalists who manage a facility, network or system. Others are specialists who oversee specific departments.
Healthcare Administration Degrees
A career in healthcare administration requires a college degree. A bachelor's degree is adequate for most entry-level positions. However, many healthcare administrators seek a master's degree in order to be competitive in their field. Some positions in healthcare administration require a master's degree.
The Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) is devoted to quality education and accountability in healthcare administration and management. This accrediting body oversees the college degree programs in American and Canadian health administration schools.
CAHME recognizes several different degrees as equivalents in healthcare administration. They include degrees in health administration, business administration, science, public health and public administration.
CAHME accredited programs are master's degree programs, and students who are interested in healthcare administration must earn a bachelor's degree first. A bachelor's degree in any of these areas — health or business administration, public health or administration, science or a similar degree — is required before they can pursue a graduate degree.
Education, Training and Qualifications
Healthcare administrators must be know the principles and practices of business management. A health administration school provides the requisite education and training for this particular healthcare career.
Few American and Canadian colleges and universities offer bachelor's degree programs in healthcare administration. Students who seek a degree in this field normally pursue degrees in allied health, medicine, public health, public administration or business administration.
According to CAHME statistics for 2008, 72 schools had accredited degree programs for students pursuing a master's degree in healthcare administration. As for bachelor's degrees, 48 schools were accredited. Five schools offered a master's degree in health information management.
The coursework for healthcare administration degrees include hospital management, accounting, budgeting, marketing, human resources, health economics, law and ethics, biostatistics and information systems. In addition to coursework completion, healthcare administrators are usually required to pass a licensing exam. Other certificates are usually required for advancement.
Healthcare Administration Job Outlook
Healthcare administrators have a promising future in their chosen profession. Job opportunities abound and will likely grow faster than average. Strong management skills and healthcare experience give administrators a competitive edge.
According to the United States Department of Labor, healthcare administrators should have an advantage in the job market as health care facilities expand and grow more complex. High-level positions will have steep competition due to the prestige and salaries of healthcare administrators.
In 2010, healthcare administrators earned a median annual income of $84,270. The middle 50 percent earned salaries that ranged from $65,650 to $109,490. Most entry-level healthcare administrators held bachelor's degrees, while the top-level administrators held at least a master's degree.