How to Become an HR Manager in Healthcare

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HR manager discusses with a healthcare employee.

Television shows and movies make a career in healthcare look dramatic and exciting. Drama may be intriguing on the screen, but it’s not something people want to encounter in their healthcare facility. That’s where human resources managers come in. Rarely seen on prime-time episodes, these positions are integral to maintaining an efficient and drama-free work environment.

HR managers are the unsung heroes in healthcare, mostly because their jobs directly impact the lives of patients whom they rarely ever meet. They work closely with healthcare professionals to design programs and solutions that consider the needs of both employees and patients. It’s important work that’s rewarding in a number of ways. If you’ve ever wondered how to become an HR manager in healthcare, read on to discover the details.

What Does a Human Resources Manager Do?

HR managers play a critical role in ensuring high-quality healthcare for patients. They work at medical institutions performing important tasks such as hiring and recruiting, onboarding new hires, selecting benefits and compensation, managing personnel and troubleshooting claims. These individuals make sure employees follow policies and procedures, so monitoring the performance of staff and the institution as a whole is integral to what human resource managers do.

While most human resources managers in other industries deal exclusively with employees, healthcare HR managers must consider the needs of the patients as well. They build strategic plans for providing quality experiences by addressing healthcare trends and setting the standard for ethical practices in their facilities.

In a Forbes article, Margie Vargas, senior vice president and chief human resources officer for Memorial Healthcare System, described her role as focusing on the business side of things in addition to more traditional HR tasks. “Back in the day when you became an HR professional you really honed your skills on the HR-specific competencies that were necessary to be compliant,” she said. “[The objectives now] have to do with how involved are you in understanding what drives your business? What is your business acumen? Where is your contribution to the critical evaluation of program development? What drives the organization, and how are you connected to the mission?” Because of the nature of the healthcare industry, the HR management role may necessitate working fairly closely with a legal team.

Steps to Becoming a Human Resources Manager

If you are wondering how to become an HR manager, remember that, like in most professions, this job requires both academic courses and real-world experience.

Developing Essential Skills

Job postings for human resources managers identify basic essential skills the position calls for. Remember that skills transfer from job to job, so you can develop them before applying to be an HR manager. The most common skills cited are:

  • Communication
  • Multitasking
  • Organization
  • Presentation
  • Computer skills
  • Knowledge of health and healthcare trends

Growing into the Role

Many HR management positions also require work experience in human resources and business as well. Human resources executive Lucy Rivas-Enriquez elaborated on this in the article “HR Managers: Align Your Department and Company Goals with These Eight Tips” in Forbes, stating, “Human resources should not exist in isolation to merely manage processes. If HR is not business savvy, then how can we help the organization reach its goals? The answer is that we cannot.” Though the length of experience required differs from job to job, the average preferred for an HR manager is between four and six years.

Educational Requirements

HR management positions require at minimum a bachelor’s degree in human resources or another related field. However, these roles are competitive, and having a Master of Health Administration (MHA) degree can set applicants apart from the competition, especially during the preliminary selection period. Fortunately, there are convenient options for earning an MHA, even for those who already have full-time employment or those who just aren’t able to go back to school full time. The key is to make sure the program is accredited and respectable.

Salaries of a Human Resources Manager

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for a human resources manager is $113,300 per year or roughly $54.47 per hour. Salaries can range from $97,620 on the low end to $127,690, depending on the industry. An applicant’s qualifications and location as well as the healthcare facility’s available funding also affect where an HR manager’s salary falls in this range.

Future Growth of Human Resources Manager Jobs

The HR management field is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. According to the BLS, the projected growth rate for human resources manager positions is 9 percent, which is slightly above the national average of 7 percent. Between 2016 and 2026, the field is expected to add an estimated 12,300 new positions. This means that although HR management is competitive, there are jobs available and plenty of room for growth. Some large healthcare facilities even have senior HR management positions available, which gives those interested more responsibilities as well as more compensation.

Take the First Step Toward an MHA

Not only is a career in HR management in healthcare an exciting choice, it’s also rewarding work with regard to both compensation and service to employees and patients. Learning how to become an HR manager in healthcare is the first step toward this integral role.

Duquesne’s nationally recognized programs are designed by industry-leading professionals. Beyond what you experience through coursework, you will develop your skills through hands-on learning and real-world simulations. Concentration areas include Health Informatics and Data Analytics, Healthcare Compliance and Risk Management, and Population Health. Explore Duquesne’s online MHA program today.


Recommended Readings

Important Trends in Healthcare

Developing Culturally Sensitive Healthcare Systems



Duquesne University, Online Master of Health Administration

Forbes, “Healthcare in the Age of Personalization Part 6: People ExpertsWe Need You”

Forbes, “HR Managers: Align Your Department and Company Goals with These Eight Tips”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Human Resources Managers