Guide to Health Care Administration Careers

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Health care administration is a vital behind-the-scenes role in the medical field. Learn more about health care administration jobs and the work they do..

[Featured Image]:  Health Information Manager, wearing a white lab coat, standing outside the office, preparing information on patient's security.

Careers in health care only sometimes require working directly with patients. Behind the scenes, you'll find staff members who support health care providers and keep facilities operating smoothly. Health care administrators are part of this team. If you have strong management skills and want a lucrative career in the health care field without going to medical school, learn more about what it takes to land a job as a health care administrator.

What is health care administration?

Health care administration is the management and oversight of the overall operations of a medical facility or a specific area, division, or department within a medical facility. Professionals in health care administration manage the business aspects of health care in a nonclinical role, like budgeting, staffing, compliance, patient satisfaction, marketing, and more. Health care administration helps keep medical facilities running smoothly, so workers can focus on critical aspects of patient care. 

Why is health care administration important? 

Health care administration is important because it allows health care providers to do the critical work of caring for patients who rely on their services and assistance daily. Without health care administration, facilities may lack the consistency of care, standards of facility management, or policies to protect patients and providers. From budgeting to staffing, health care administrators work in less visible roles to ensure patients and providers get the care and support they need. 

The health care administration team supports the work of health care providers. Some of the results of their work include the following: 

  • A staff of highly skilled providers with a sense of job satisfaction 

  • Affordable and flexible payment options for patients who do not have insurance or who cannot pay medical bills

  • Good communication and relationships with insurance companies that improve patient care 

  • Community outreach programs that educate the public on critical health-related topics and possibly free programs or classes to improve community health and wellbeing 

  • Health care providers who have the tools, technology, and support to do what they need to do daily 

What is it like to work in health care administration?

Working in health care administration is a fast-paced environment that may include working in an office and face-to-face interactions with staff members, patients, and stakeholders. These careers are complex and diverse, which can benefit someone who wants options and opportunities for mobility. However, be prepared to spend time working with policies, procedures, and regulations. To ensure the safety of staff and patients, you need to be aware of the strict rules that govern a health care facility. 

Commons tasks

The typical tasks can vary widely based on where you work, what area of a facility you work in, and your job title and role. Your job may require the following: 

  • Adhere to legal guidelines, regulations, and compliance measures, as well as design and implement these rules and regulations. 

  • Manage software systems used to manage electronic health records, patient scheduling, billing, coding, etc. 

  • Act as a liaison between departments, other health care administrators, and outside organizations like vendors, community organizations, and industry organizations. 

  • Ensure a safe workplace for all patients, providers, and support staff. 

  • Create budgets and manage finances for a specific department or entire facility, which may include payroll, medical billing, and accounts payable 

  • Educate staff on policy updates and changes as needed. 

  • Ensure accurate and efficient record keeping. 

  • Manage stock of tools, equipment, and all resources providers may need. 

  • Listen to the needs of health care providers and patients and respond to problems promptly and appropriately. 

Key skills for health care administration jobs

To work in health care administration, you need multiple skills, including human and technical skills. You should understand the health care system, have a sense of ethics, and have knowledge of HIPAA laws and electronic health records. It also helps to understand the needs of doctors and nurses as you meet staffing needs and work to create a healthy workplace. Other key skills include the following: 

  • Adaptability

  • Business administration

  • Communication

  • Data analysis

  • Leadership

  • Mentoring

  • Planning

  • Problem-solving

  • Relationship building

Job outlook and average salary

The average salary for a health care administrator in the US is $101,340 a year. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics includes health care administrators in the medical and health services managers category. Of all jobs in this category, the top 10 percent of all earners made $205,620 a year or more, and the lowest 10 percent earned $60,780 a year. The top employers of health care administrators are hospitals, the government, outpatient care centers, nursing homes, and doctor’s offices. Of these top employers, hospitals pay health care administrators the most, while nursing homes pay the lowest amount per year. 

When looking at the job outlook for health care administrators, the demand is expected to increase, as does the demand and employment boom of health care workers. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 28 percent growth for this profession between 2021 and 2031. In this period, they’re projecting that there will be an additional 56,600 job openings in the United States. [1]

Read more: 10 Best Paying Jobs in Health Care

5 common roles in health care administration

The roles within health care administration are diverse and varied. You can find jobs specializing in HR and staff management, billing and medical records, general hospital management, etc. While specific job titles, roles, and responsibilities will look different based on factors like where you work, you can find some typical positions in health care administration across facilities or organizations. 

1. Health care administrator

A health care administrator manages and oversees the general operations of a medical facility like a hospital. These operational needs may include policy enforcement or changes, staff training and employment, financial management, medical coding and billing, and budgeting. In this role, you work with health care providers and ensure that the medical facility follows all laws, rules, and regulations. You also may create and enforce policies within the facility that you oversee. 

2. Health information manager

Health information managers focus on the internal systems that keep a medical facility’s patient information safe, secure, organized, and accessible. Your job includes creating, maintaining, and training staff members on software use. You also may be in charge of collecting and managing electronic health records, reviewing them for accuracy, and analyzing data derived from them.  

3. Clinical manager

In this role, you’ll be working with and overseeing clinic operations. Your responsibilities may include hiring and training staff, budgeting, keeping inventory of necessary supplies, implementing policies and procedures, and ensuring compliance with health care regulations. Compared to other health care administration roles, clinical managers tend to focus more on the medical side of health care management. 

4. Director of managed care

A director of managed care oversees a specific department in a medical facility. This job requires you to manage your department's daily operations, including managing staff and communicating with other departments. As with all other jobs in health care administration, this job also requires attention to state and federal laws and regulations. The duties and responsibilities of this job will vary by facility type. 

4. Pharmaceutical project manager

You can find pharmaceutical project managers overseeing products within a pharmaceutical company. Someone in this role will not work in a medical facility but will communicate with and work with medical facilities as they manage pharmaceutical development, marketing, and sales. 

Health care administration career path 

Health care administrators typically require at least a bachelor’s degree, ideally in health care administration. To qualify for some positions, you also may need a master's or doctoral degree. Certification may be optional but can be beneficial to your career long term. Your exact path may vary, but you can expect to follow these general steps.


Some schools offer health care management or health care administration as a major for undergraduate students. You may also earn a Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA). The coursework in these degree programs gives you exposure to topics and themes relevant to the work of a health care administrator, like accounting, marketing, and health management. You may take some or all of the following courses as you earn your degree:


  • Accounting for Planning and Control

  • Financial Resource Management in Healthcare

  • Health care Data Management

  • Health care IT Infrastructure and Network Management

  • Health care Values and Ethics

  • Patient Safety Systems and Strategies

  • Statistics for Health Professional

  • Technology Applications in Healthcare

  • Values, Ethics, and Conflict Resolution in Health and Urban Affairs

Read more: Health Administration Degree: Types, Possible Jobs, and More

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Work experience 

After earning your bachelor’s degree, you’re ready to gain professional experience. This experience will be vital in developing your career. You may find it beneficial if you decide to pursue a master's degree, as many schools require health care administration students to have some in-field experience. 

When applying for jobs, try to get hired in a role that would naturally lead to your ultimate career goal. For example, if you want to work as a clinical manager, you may look for an entry-level position in the HR department. You’ll gain the necessary experience learning how the office operates and should be able to move into a managerial role. 


Though optional, getting certified in health care administration can provide more opportunities, widen your scope of knowledge and skills, and better prepare you for additional career opportunities or promotions throughout your career. This may also lead to an increase in your earning potential as you move into higher-paid positions. 

You can find general health care administration certifications offered by industry organizations and more specialized finance or health care quality certifications. When choosing a certificate, consider the organization offering the certification and how the certification can help you to progress your career further. 

Next steps

No matter where you are in your health care administration career path, you may enjoy earning a Specialization like The Business of Health Care and Healthcare Law, both from the University of Pennsylvania and available on Coursera. If you already have your bachelor's degree and are ready for additional education, you also may pursue a degree like a Master of Public Health from the University of Michigan, also available on Coursera.

Article sources

  1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Occupational Outlook Handbook, Medical and Health Services Manager, .” Accessed March 10, 2023. 


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This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.