Healthcare organizations are complex by nature. Many moving pieces must work harmoniously to ensure optimal patient outcomes, complete regulatory compliance and full operational efficiency. The pieces work together as designed when health administrators provide the necessary management and oversight, synchronizing the clinical and business interests of their organizations. For those seeking advanced careers in healthcare administration, it may be helpful to review not only the average health administrator salary, but also the skills required and responsibilities entailed. Programs such as an online Master of Health Administration can equip graduates to assume leadership roles as health administrators.
What Is a Health Administrator?
To understand the factors that determine the health administrator salary, it’s important to clarify what the role is, what duties are included and what value health administrators bring to healthcare organizations.
Responsibilities of a Health Administrator
Health administrators’ responsibilities may include the full range of administrative tasks associated with the hospital, laboratory, medical practice or clinic where they work. The specifics can vary depending on the size of the organization, but it’s not uncommon for health administrators to be responsible for marketing, budgeting, accounting, processing insurance claims, and issuing and paying bills. In smaller practices, the health administrator may also be tasked with answering phones and providing customer service. Larger organizations may have a full team of health administrators, each assigned a specific task; for example, there may be a health administrator whose sole focus is on processing insurance claims.
Significance of a Health Administrator
While the health administrator’s duties can vary by organization, the importance of the role tends to be more constant from one organization to another. Healthcare professionals, including doctors and nursing staff members, all have crucial responsibilities for addressing patient needs. To do their best work, they need a supportive, resource-rich environment where they can apply their skills unencumbered. The health administrator must provide such an environment while also removing any barriers to clinical efficiency.
Health Administrator Salary and Job Growth
When considering a career in healthcare administration, it’s important to think about not only the duties and responsibilities, but also the average salary and job growth potential.
Health Administrator Salary
The salary of a health administrator will vary depending on the health facility’s location, type and size as well as the employee’s education and experience. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for medical and health services managers, a job category that includes health administrators, was $99,730 in 2018. Additionally, some administrators have the potential to earn bonuses.
Health Administrator Job Growth
The BLS expects employment of medical and health services managers, which include health administrators, to increase by 18% — or more than 70,000 jobs — between 2018 and 2028, much faster than the 5% projected increase for all occupations. The factors contributing to this growth include an ever-evolving medical industry; an aging population, particularly the baby boomers; individuals remaining active later in life; and an increased focus on electronic medical records and the requisite technological skills to work with them.
The Skills of a Health Administrator
To take advantage of the job growth offered in health administration, it’s important to accrue the right set of skills.
Skills Required for Health Administrators
Aspiring health administrators should have enough basic business knowledge to provide a sense of fiscal responsibility and efficiency to their organizations. While a background in clinical practice isn’t a requirement, it’s valuable to have some basic experience working in a healthcare environment. Technical skills, ranging from marketing to claims processing to billing, are essential. Because the administrator’s job typically involves leading a team, strong interpersonal skills are also needed. In addition, leadership and analytical skills are helpful attributes for a health administrator.
Acquiring Skills in Health Administration
The skills required for success in health administration can be cultivated through advanced education. In programs such as Duquesne University’s online Master of Health Administration, students can gain the expertise required to pursue a career working on the administrative side of healthcare. The Duquesne program prepares students for success in the field, helping them build their portfolio of skills through real-world capstone projects, administrative fellowships, faculty-led research programs, internships and more. Students can choose from among concentrations such as Health Informatics and Data Analytics, Healthcare Compliance and Risk Management, and Population Health.
Build a Career as a Health Administrator
As demand for health administrators grows, aspiring health administrators would do well to consider further education as a pathway to a career in the field. Learn more about how Duquesne University’s online Master of Health Administration can equip students with the skills they need to succeed in their careers.