Health Care Consultant: Duties, Pay, and How to Become One

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Learn about the role of a health care consultant, duties and responsibilities, benefits of being a health care consultant, salary, and how to become one.

[Featured image] A health care consultant speaks with doctors inside a hospital room.

Health care consultants help health care providers and institutions to grow and develop their services, while also considering the best outcomes for patients and taking account of regulations, health policies, and budgets. Health care consultants are experts in their field with a wealth of experience and education. If you're interested in health care systems, then you might consider a career as a health care consultant. In this article, you'll learn more about health care consulting, how much consultants earn, and how to become one yourself. At the end, you'll also explore flexible, cost-effective courses that can help you gain job-relevant skills today.

What exactly is a health care consultant?

Health care consultants examine existing processes and give their professional advice and guidance on how to make improvements, reduce costs, and improve patient care. With a background in health care, a health care consultant can give valuable expertise and training to overcome organizational challenges and improve service delivery. 

What does a health care consultant do?

Much like business consultants, health care consultants support organizations to improve their processes, maximize their profits, and minimize their costs. Unlike business consultants, though, health care consultants work in health care settings, such as hospitals, private practices, doctors' offices, and rehabilitation centers.

Organizations hire health care consultants when they have a problem that needs solving or they need to make improvements. The consultant may analyze data and research potential problems to offer solutions, which they might stay and implement or provide as recommendations. 

While their exact responsibilities vary according to the needs of the organization that is using their services, health care consultants commonly perform the following duties:

  • Consult with company employees at the highest level and deliver presentations and strategies to C-level audiences

  • Use analytical skills to detect any weaknesses or inefficiencies in organizational processes

  • Assess relevant practices and provide insight for improvement based on industry standards and trends

  • Support organizations to reduce costs and increase revenue

  • Prepare business plans for organizations to implement

  • See changes through acting at a senior level

  • Ensure patient satisfaction and safety are a priority

  • Write detailed reports and monitor improvement 

  • Write white papers based on research

Health care consultant salary and job outlook

Health care consultants make a higher-than-average salary and likely have a positive job outlook over the coming years. According to Glassdoor, health care consultants earn an average base salary of $83,685 a year and earn an estimated additional compensation of $37,397 annually from commission, tips, bonuses, and profit-sharing [1]. The exact amount you can expect to earn will likely vary based on your work experience, qualifications, expertise, and geographic location. 

There are no official statistics on the job outlook for health care consultants, but statistics on related jobs suggest the field will likely grow in the near future. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), for example, health care management positions are projected to grow by 28 percent between 2021 and 2031, resulting in about 56,600 job openings a year throughout the decade [2].

Other job titles for health care consultants 

Health care consultants may have different titles depending on where they work. Here are some of the other job titles you may find when searching for health care consultant positions along with their annual base pay, according to Glassdoor:

  • Health care management consultant: $69,170 [3

  • Health care strategy consultant: $89,278 [4]

  • Senior consultant in health care: $95,092 [5]

  • Health care IT consultant: $73,873 [6] 

  • Talent acquisition consultant-health care: $75,451 [7]

  • Nursing consultant: $107,218 [8

Read more: What Do Health Care Jobs Pay? Salaries, Job List, and More

Where do health care consultants work?

Health care consultants don’t just work in hospitals as you might expect.

You can find health care consultant jobs in a variety of health care organizations, including physician offices, federal or state government agencies, health insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, private clinics, medical technology companies, outpatient care, and nursing and residential care.

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A lecture from the University of Pennsylvania's The Business of Health Care Specialization.

How to become a health care consultant

A health care consultant is a senior position resulting from hard work, years of experience, education, and certifications. You can take various routes depending upon where you start in the profession, but specific experience and qualifications are essential for this role. 

1. Earn a bachelor’s degree.

The first step in your career journey to becoming a health care consultant is to earn a bachelor’s degree. Ideally, this should be in a relevant field, such as public health health care, health management, or even a business-related course of study such as business administration or finance. Be sure to check course outlines to choose a course with highly relevant majors and minors to deepen your studies in health care management. 

2. Build job experience.

After achieving your educational goals and before embarking on a search for health care consultant jobs, you need to get a good amount of experience in the field behind you. People come from all sorts of medical and business professions and, in most cases, have a good level of experience in an administrative or clinical setting. 

If you opt to take a graduate degree, you can gain some of this experience through on-the-job work as part of your studies. If you have no experience in the field, an internship or entry-level medical or health care position can be of great value.

When applying for this type of role, you will likely be asked to evidence experiences such as expertise in computer and health care applications, Medicare and Medicaid experience, and knowledge of current health care literature and other transferable skills. 

3. Hone the right skills.

To be an effective health care consultant, you'll need to develop a variety of technical and interpersonal skills. While the exact skills you'll need will vary across positions and workplaces, some of the most common skills and knowledge you'll use include:

  • Effective communication

  • Self-motivation

  • Stress management

  • Attention to detail

  • Interpersonal skills

  • Analytical skills

  • Knowledge of health care structures, laws, and policies

  • Decision-making abilities

  • Business acumen

  • Financial knowledge 

4. Enhance your employability with professional certificates.

Consider what path you want your consultancy career to take. Specializing in a field or area to consult on can help you hone your skills and consider which qualifications and certifications will benefit you. Whether you decide to be self-employed or work for a company will also impact the type of training you require.

Certifications aren’t required but can be an excellent way to excel in your professional development. The National Society of Certified Healthcare Business Consultants offers a Certified Healthcare Business Consultant credential. Other popular choices include:

  • American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management certificate (AAHAM)

  • Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS)

  • Certified Professional In Healthcare Risk Management (CPHRM)

  • Becoming a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executive (FACHE)

5. Consider earning a master’s degree.

To make yourself stand out, consider earning a master’s degree. A bachelor’s degree is generally the requirement to work as a health care consultant, but many employers ask for a master’s degree. Even when that isn’t the case, having one can potentially set you apart from other applicants that don’t. 

An excellent graduate program to consider is a Master of Health Administration (MHA), which provides options to specialize in data analytics, marketing, and financial strategies, all within a health care setting.

Read more: What Is the Master of Health Care Administration (MHA)?

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Master of Public Health

University of Michigan

Learn more about health care

If you are considering a career as a health care consultant, start by working towards your bachelor’s degree and gaining some relevant experience. Online courses, meanwhile, can help you gain job-relevant skills in a flexible and cost-effective manner.

In the University of Pennsylvania's Business of Health Care Specialization, you'll gain a strong foundational understanding of the American health care system, along with the basic financial and management skills to make better, well-informed decisions that improve the cost and quality of the health care you or your enterprise provides.

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Advance your career in health care management. Develop business skills and understand the American health care system to improve cost and quality.

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Article sources

1

Glassdoor. “Healthcare Consultant Salaries, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/us-healthcare-consultant-salary-SRCH_IL.0,2_IN1_KO3,24.htm.” Accessed January 18, 2023. 

Written by Coursera • Updated on

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