Virtually all management and administration professionals in the healthcare industry must have at least a bachelor's degree. For this reason, the first step toward becoming a healthcare administrator is to obtain a diploma from an accredited four-year institution. For people who do not plan on pursuing a higher level degree, the goal should be to find a program that offers an undergraduate degree in healthcare administration. This helps differentiate them as candidates from people who only have general business degrees. For students whose ultimate goal is to acquire a master's degree in healthcare administration, an undergraduate degree in business, finance, or healthcare will also suffice. Ideally, the school will have an accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education.
While in school, students will take some general education classes that are required for all bachelor's degrees. In addition, they will take courses in hospital organization and management, accounting and budgeting, human resources administration, strategic planning, law and ethics, health economics, and health information systems. All of these areas are vital for a successful career in healthcare administration, although the exact types of classes that make up the program will vary by institution. Students who wish to go into a specific area of administration, such as health information, should take more classes in that field. For example, people who wish to become health information managers might take additional courses in IT in order to develop a specialty.
If possible, students should participate in an internship or other relevant work experience while in school. This is especially important because some companies won't hire administrators who don't have experience in the industry. Many people start by working as administrative assistants or assistant department heads before moving into a truly administrative position. Work experience can also give students practical experience in the healthcare industry and help them narrow down their career choices by helping them decide if, for instance, they would prefer to work in a hospital, nursing home, or physician's office.
Depending upon one's career goals, he or she might have to take additional steps after graduation. People who wish to move up into higher levels of executive administration often need master's degrees. Thought it may not be explicitly stated as a requirement for the position, graduates who have earned higher degrees are often at an advantage in the hiring process. Specific subsets of the healthcare industry also require administrators to have specific licenses. This is especially true of those who wish to work in a nursing or assisted living home, where licensure is required by the state. Most of the time, applicants must carry at least a bachelor's degree, have passed a licensing exam, and have gone through a state-approved training program. Some people may also wish to obtain other certifications, such as those from the Fellow of American College of Healthcare Executives or the Registered Healthcare Information Administrator Credential. Possessing additional certifications is another factor that can make recent graduates more employable. Some of these certifications, however, require a minimum number of years of experience before qualifying.
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 Community Health. Check out her Check out her Google+ profile.