What Is Health Care Management? A Career Guide

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn all about health care management, including career paths, salary information, and how to get into this field.

[Featured Image] A hospital administrator and two medical professionals sit at a conference table.

Health care managers are in charge of keeping health care facilities such as hospitals, medical centers, and doctor's offices functioning and serving the community. They make sure the facility provides the best possible care and operates smoothly.

Careers in health care management have high earning potential. If you're interested in the health care field but want to avoid clinical duties, then health care management provides the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives.

Here's a guide to health care management, including careers, salary information, and how to get into it.

What is health care management? 

Health care management is responsible for overseeing health care facilities. People in these roles work to enhance treatment options and direct organizational policies and procedures. Health care management professionals are not directly involved with patient care but look at the bigger picture to ensure services offered benefit patients and empower staff. They make sure budgets allow maximum efficiency and quality and usually manage a team of medical staff.

Job responsibilities

Responsibilities of a health care management professional or a health care management team will vary according to the position but typically include:

  • Developing and implementing organizational-level goals and procedures

  • Researching and implementing strategies to improve standards of patient care and facilities offered

  • Recruiting, training, and managing medical and administrative staff

  • Managing finance and budgets

  • Complying with health and data protection regulations

  • Collaborating with health boards, stakeholders, medical staff, and investors

Key skills in health care management

You will need to possess and demonstrate soft skills to work in health care management. Common skills include:

You also need practical skills such as:

  • Excel at managing budgets and finances

  • Perform data analysis 

  • Knowledge of and compliance with quality standards, patient privacy, and other government regulations

  • Understand business principles and strategies 

  • Manage health informatics, including electronic health records and administrative staff

  • Recruit and train medical staff

Many of these skills are transferable, meaning you can enter health care management from a variety of backgrounds and experiences.

Benefits of a health care management career

You'll have plenty of options for where you work, facilities as diverse as hospitals, nursing homes, doctor's offices, public health centers, university research labs, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies. You'll be able to make an impact on your community, perhaps by devising new policies that support the health care community or helping patients with billing and insurance. Because of that, job satisfaction tends to be high.


Salary and job outlook

As a health care service or medical manager, you can expect to earn a median salary of $101,340 per year and the highest 10 percent earning more than $205,620 [1]. This is much higher than the national salary average for entry-level managers. The salary level is directly related to years of experience, qualifications, location, and where you work. Those working in a hospital setting tend to command the highest salaries [1].

The demand for health care management professionals is much higher than average, with employment projected to grow by 28 percent between 2021 and 2031, and 136,200 openings expected per year [2]. This is very promising for job prospects, especially as many different roles are available within the umbrella of health care management. 

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

Related career paths

Besides becoming a health care manager, there are plenty of career paths within health care management. They vary from entry-level administrative roles to higher-up leadership roles, meaning there are opportunities to advance in the career field

If you're looking for a role in health care management, consider the following:

Read more: 10 Best Paying Jobs in Health Care

How to get into health care management

Think this career could be for you? Here's a guide to getting started.

1. Earn your degree.

While working up to more senior positions is possible from entry-level, starting out with a bachelor's degree can be helpful for landing your first role. Related majors include nursing, business, or public health. Earning your master's can help you advance into leadership positions. Some schools offer master's degrees in health care administration and management.

2. Explore internships and fellowships.

Some level of clinical or administrative experience is good to have to work in health care management to get a detailed understanding of terminology and how things work. While studying for your degree, you can consider exploring internships and fellowships that can get you a foot in the door and some valuable hands-on experience. You can also look for entry-level administrative posts in a clinical setting. 

3. Gain some work experience.

Many of those starting out in health care management land entry-level jobs and work their way up. Even entry-level health care management positions generally require a bachelor’s degree. In general, working in business and administration is valuable, but you having some experience in health care or the medical field will give you a better chance of landing a job as a health care manager.

4. Build up your resume.

Working in a management position means you will have ideally gained some experience through the ranks. You'll want to highlight instances in which you've taken on leadership in specific roles. Include entry-level positions, admin positions, and any voluntary positions on your resume that show you have a stable work history and have learned the necessary transferable skills to succeed in a career in health care management. 

5. Consider a certification.

If you want to stand out as a viable candidate, consider a certification in addition to a bachelor's degree to master any skills you may be lacking. There is a growing need for health care managers with a particular specialty, so if you can make yourself an expert in a specific area, you can broaden your options. 

Technology is a growing part of a health care manager's role, with new systems, software, and apps to increase patient engagement, organize services and keep in touch with patients. You can find specific training programs for telehealth systems and other software, such as Microsoft Office.

Next steps

Do you think a career in health care management is for you? Enroll in UPenn's The Business of Health Care Specialization to learn from experts in health care management, health care policy, and business to build skills to navigate the rapidly evolving landscape of health care in the United States.

Article sources


US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Occupational Outlook Handbook, Medical and Health Services Managers, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm#tab-5.” Accessed July 10, 2023.

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