Clinical Managers: What They Do + How to Become One

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Whether they’re working in small, local operations or large-scale medical facilities, clinical managers help clinics run efficiently and seamlessly. Learn more about this administrative health care career.

[Featured Image] A woman in a white medical coat stands in a clinic.

Clinical managers oversee the administrative responsibilities of running a medical clinic. While they get little face time with patients, the work that clinical managers do ensures that all health care staff are adequately supported and can provide the best possible care. 

If you’re someone who wants to enter the health care field but prefers a behind-the-scenes position, then you might be well-suited to a career as a clinical manager. 

In this article, you’ll learn more about what a clinical manager is, what their responsibilities are, and how you can become one. You’ll also find the job outlook, salary expectations, and required skills you should possess to thrive in the role. In the end, you’ll even find some suggested courses to help you get started today. 

What is a clinical manager? 

A clinical manager is a health care administrator who oversees the daily operations of a medical clinic. While most of a clinic’s staff are typically tasked with providing health care services to out-patients, a clinical manager is specifically tasked with managing the operations of the clinic itself. On any given day, a clinical manager might do everything from hiring and training employees to creating budgets and working with executives. 

Clinical manager job outlook

The job outlook for clinical managers is very positive. 

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical and health services managers – the job category under which clinical managers fall – are projected to see a 32-percent increase in job openings between 2020 and 2030. As a result, the BLS predicts that an average of 51,800 jobs will open for medical and health services managers every year throughout the decade [1]. 

Clinical manager salary 

Like its job outlook, the expected salary for a clinical manager is positive. 

According to the BLS, the median annual salary for medical and health services managers was $101,340 as of 2021 [1]. Glassdoor, meanwhile, pegs the average annual salary for clinical managers at $89,615 [2].

The exact amount that you can expect to earn, however, will largely depend on your geographic location, prior experience, educational credentials, and employer. 

What do clinical managers do? Responsibilities and skills 

In this section, you’ll learn about the responsibilities a clinic manager can expect when managing a health care facility and the skills required to do the job well 

Responsibilities 

Although they spend their days working in a clinic, clinical managers usually have very little face time with patients. Instead, they focus their attention on clinic operations. Some of their most common responsibilities include: 

  • Hiring staff. Clinical managers are often responsible for hiring qualified staff to fill vacant or new positions. 

  • Setting budgets. As a particularly business-focused role, clinical managers must often set annual, quarterly, and project budgets to ensure that the health care facility runs efficiently and smoothly. 

  • Managing daily operations. Health care settings can often be hectic work environments due to the time-sensitive and critical nature of their work. Clinical managers ensure clinics run smoothly by supervising day-to-day operations, so health care professionals can focus on providing patient care. 

  • Onboarding new employees and training staff. In addition to hiring new staff, clinical managers usually must also supervise the onboarding of new employees, so that they can efficiently maneuver their new workplace and perform their jobs to the best of their abilities. Clinical managers may also occasionally provide training to current employees. 

Skills

Clinical managers must ensure the efficient daily operations of health care facilities in order to support medical professionals attending to patient needs. They must combine a variety of both technical and human skills to do their best job. Some of these skills include: 

  • Project management

  • Business management

  • Attention to detail

  • Organization 

  • Empathy

  • Knowledge of health care systems 

Where do clinical managers work? 

As their title implies, clinical managers work in medical clinics, which can range in size from small walk-in clinics to large clinical institutions affiliated with hospitals or medical schools.

Unlike hospitals, however, medical clinics are mainly focused on providing care to out-patients, those who don’t require extended or overnight stay in a medical facility (in-patient care).   

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How to become a clinical manager 

The path to becoming a clinical manager is filled with education, training, and work experience. Here are some steps you should take to join the profession: 

1. Get a bachelor’s degree.

To qualify for a job as a clinical manager, you will need a bachelor’s degree in a related subject, such as health administration or health management, from an accredited university. Some other subjects that could prepare you for a career in clinical management include nursing, business administration, and health science

Note, however, that some employers may prefer candidates with a master’s degree. 

Read more: Bachelor of Science (BS) Degree: What It Is and How to Earn One

2. Gain work experience.

Whether in the health care field or elsewhere, managerial positions typically require that qualified candidates have prior related experience before jumping into an administrative role. Some common jobs that can prepare you for the role include registered nurse (RN), clinical administrative assistant, and clinical coordinator. 

3. Consider a relevant master’s degree. 

Some employers may prefer candidates with more advanced degrees, such as a master’s in health administration, public health administration, business, or clinical operations and health management. A master’s degree has the potential to show that you have the skills you’ll need to start managing a clinic on your own. 

Read more: How to Get a Master's Degree

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Learn more to better manage care 

To be successful, clinical managers must have a unique mix of business, management, and health care knowledge. To prepare for your career, consider taking an online, flexible course to better acquaint yourself with the skills you’ll need to succeed. 

The University of Houston’s Value-Based Care Specialization introduces the fundamentals and real-world application of value-based care, including how effective communication between health care professionals and patients can lead to a partnership focused on quality care.

Rutgers’ Healthcare Organization Operations Specialization helps course takers to contribute to the effective administration of the health care organization’s operations

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Value-Based Care

Learn About Value-Based Care. Learn the fundamentals and real-world application of value-based care that has become integral to improving outcomes in health care. Explore the power of effective communication between healthcare professionals and patients that leads to a partnership focused on quality care.

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Article sources 

1. BLS. “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Medical and Health Service Managers, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm.” Accessed August 24, 2022. 

2. Glassdoor. “How much does a Clinical Manager make?, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/us-clinical-manager-salary-SRCH_IL.0,2_IN1_KO3,19.htm?clickSource=searchBtn.” Accessed August 24, 2022.

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