The first step in becoming a successful healthcare administrator is to get the appropriate education. You should start off by, if possible, earning a bachelor's degree in healthcare administration or management. Some people also get a baccalaureate degree in this area as a foundation for medical school and their future career as a clinician. No matter what, you'll have to get a bachelor's degree in something if you hope to have a career in healthcare administration.
Graduate programs are typically two years long and instruct students in areas such as law and policy, marketing, financing, organizational behavior, and human resources. You should look for programs that have accreditations, such as by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education. Graduate programs are ideal for people who hope to enter into a higher level of management or want to broaden their knowledge and skill base. Some people go on to receive a doctoral degree (hopefully at a college that is an AUPHA member) with the hopes of becoming a college professor.
Hopefully by getting an education, you will gain the requisite skills you need to be a healthcare professional. These include communication skills, quantitative skills, business planning skills, and strong character. While most of these you can learn through your studies, you will have to develop a strong character on your own time. This includes developing a respect for the ethical issues in medicine as well as becoming a stalwart supporter of policies and regulations. You should be a strong leader who has integrity, trustworthiness, and is honest. Other qualities include general management skills and the ability to adjust to the mission and organizational objectives of an employer. You can develop yourself in these areas by gaining meaningful work experience while you are in college. A resume that has at least some indication that you are knowledgeable of and have firsthand experience in healthcare administration will be key to landing a good job. You don't have to find work experience or an internship as a manager, but even working as an administrative assistant or in another administrative capacity could earn you points during an interview.
Areas in which you hopefully have some natural ability include being analytical and detail-oriented, being able to swiftly troubleshoot and solve problems, and having adequate interpersonal skills. As a part of your job you will have to adapt to new laws and regulations, organize and maintain billing and scheduling for potentially large organizations, find creative solutions to problems in areas such as staffing or accounting, and effectively lead and motivate other staff members.
Lastly, you may be required to earn some licenses or certifications beyond what you gain through your college education. This will be practically guaranteed if you hope to work in a nursing home or assisted-living facility. Some people in other areas of management also choose to get certified to increase their earning potential and chances of being hired. In short, the more education you have and the better able you are to enhance your qualities and knowledge through this education, the better chance you will have of being successful in the professional world.