Job Profile: Hospital Administrator

Hospitals are large, bustling care centers that provide essential medical and surgical treatment around-the-clock for sick or injured patients. At the top of hospital's interdisciplinary workforce of trained healthcare personnel stands the people responsible for keeping the daily operations running smoothly – hospital administrators. Depending on the size of the hospital, administrators may supervise the personnel, budgeting, and clinical practices of a single unit, one department, or the entire hospital. Hospital administrators ensure that their facility adheres to a distinct set of established procedures that comply with federal and state regulations. A hospital administrator is a true leader given the opportunity to create policies and standards for the hospital's staff members to consistently deliver high-quality patient care.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 300,180 hospital administrators and other health services managers employed across America earn an average annual salary of $101,340, which is comparable to an hourly wage of $48.72. Hospital administrators leading psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals make less than average at $97,020, but those employed in general medical and surgical hospitals bring home a mean $108,210 annually.

Beginning Salary

When just getting started, hospital administrators with little supervisory experience can expect to land in the bottom tenth percentile with an average salary of $55,470 a year. However, hospital administrators with years of leadership experience in large hospitals can advance quickly to earn upwards of $155,130 each year!

Key Responsibilities

Hospital administrators are given the overall responsibility of making certain their facility is operating efficiently and providing adequate medical treatment to patients. Most administrators act as liaisons between governing boards, clinical staff members, and department heads to implement policies so that departments function as a whole. Hospital administrators typically plan, organize, supervise, coordinate, and control all areas of health services, including human resources, finance, information technology, and insurance. Administrators will recruit, interview, hire, and sometimes train new physicians and nurses for quality assurance. With a focus on the business side of healthcare, administrators also spend time attending board meetings, participating in public health councils, traveling to professional conferences, and hosting fundraising events.

Necessary Skills

Since hospital administrators are managers, it's essential that they have solid oral and written communication skills to collaborate and lead a variety of healthcare professionals. Hospital administrators must have good problem-solving skills and quick critical thinking abilities to find effective solutions to administrative challenges in a timely fashion. Strong organizational skills are another must for administrators to successfully manage multiple projects at once and schedule every detail of the facility's daily operations. In today's fast-paced industry, hospital administrators should also be armed with the technical skills to follow advances in healthcare technology and the analytical skills to adapt to new regulations.

Degree and Education Requirements

Hospital administrators generally need to have at least a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution to enter this leadership position. That being said, the majority of hospital administrators return to graduate school for receiving a Master of Health Administration (MHA), Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Public Administration (MPA), or Master of Public Health (MPH). It's highly advised that aspiring hospital administrators choose a health administration program that offers coursework in hospital management, accounting, human resources management, strategic planning, healthcare law, ethics, economics, and health information systems. Choosing a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) will offer the best career preparation.

Pros and Cons of the Position

First and foremost, becoming a hospital administrator is a virtually recession-proof choice because healthcare jobs are constantly growing. Administrators are among the highest paid individuals in the medical industry, aside from surgeons and doctors. Hospital administrators also have the rewarding role of making critical decisions that improves the way the facility meets patients' needs and boosts clinical outcomes. On the flip side, administrators are placed in a high-pressure position in which mistakes can greatly impact the hospital's functioning. CNN Money recently give hospital administration a "D" grade for having an above-average level of stress. Hospitals are always open 24/7, so administrators often need to be on call to quickly respond to administrative problems both day and night. Becoming a hospital administrator will involve mostly managerial tasks, so it's a poor fit for anyone seeking daily patient interaction too.

Getting Started

While earning an appropriate education, you'll need to begin building your resume with relevant administrative work experience in the hospital setting. Most accredited master's degree programs will offer you the opportunity to complete up to one year full-time in a supervised administrative internship. In some cases, employers will look for hospital administrators who also have specialized experience in a healthcare occupation, such as nursing or health information technology. Although administrators in hospitals don't need to be licensed, you may want to consider becoming board certified through the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) to display your professional competence. For this credential, you'll need to hold a master's degree, have at least five years of healthcare management experience, and submit three references. Fellows must also complete 36 hours of continuing education credits over a three-year period to successfully maintain this prestigious distinction.

Future Outlook

With the massive baby boomer population reaching late adulthood and insurance changes creating increased access to medical treatment, the job outlook for hospital administrators will remain healthy throughout the decade. Hospitals will be looking to employ more qualified administrators to effectively manage their staff, finances, and patient data correctly. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of hospital administrators and other health services managers is expected to skyrocket by 2002 at the rapid rate of 23 percent, thus creating 73,300 new jobs. Since improved medical technologies are shifting the setting of many treatments, hospital administrators can also find stellar job prospects in outpatient care centers and medical group practices.

While doctors strive to keep hearts beating and nurses aim to keep patients comfortable, hospital administrators work behind the scenes with the goal of keeping the medical center healthy. In today's evolving healthcare industry, hospital administrators play a vital role in ensuring that clinical facilities run efficiently according to long-term operation plans. Working as a hospital administrator can be a rewarding choice for helping thousands of patients without ever picking up a scalpel or bedpan. Hospital administrators will an outstanding strategic business mindset can even advance into the role of Chief Financial Officer (CFO) or Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

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