Hospital administrators oversee the day-to-day operations of hospital facilities. Learn more about this impactful career and how to get started in it.
Hospital administrators ensure that hospitals operate efficiently and that medical staff members are adequately trained and supported. Equipped with a broad range of responsibilities, hospital administrators must be equally well-versed in the fundamentals of health care delivery and business management.
If you’re a practical, project-oriented person looking to start a career in health care but who prefers a role that doesn’t include face-to-face patient contact, then you might consider a career in hospital administration.
In this article, you’ll learn more about hospital administrators, what they do, how much they earn, and what you need to do to become one. At the end, you’ll also find a suggested course to help you get started on the path to this impactful career today.
A hospital administrator is a professional who oversees the daily operations of a hospital by planning, directing, and coordinating health services. While other health care professionals like physicians and registered nurses (RNs) provide care directly to patients, hospital administrators ensure that the health facility itself functions smoothly and that the medical staff is properly supported and trained.
Hospital administrators play an important role in the delivery and functioning of health services within a hospital. While the exact duties they perform vary from role to role, here are some of the most common duties that you can expect from the job:
Directing and supervising the work of medical staff
Establishing organizational goals
Planning and implementing programs, such as human resources (HR) administration
Overseeing finances and related operations, such as budget planning, authorizing expenses, and creating financial reports
Communicating with staff, departments, and board members
Hiring and training staff
Monitoring resource use and allocation
Ensuring that facilities are up to standard and meet current regulatory requirements
Hospital administrators earn a much higher than average salary in the United States.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay for medical and health services managers – the job category under which hospital administrators fall – is $101,340 as of May 2021 . Glassdoor, meanwhile, puts the estimated total pay for hospital administrators at $88,553 as of October 2022 .
These salaries are higher than the median annual salary in the United States for all professions, which the BLS noted was $45,760 as of May 2021 . The exact amount you can expect to earn, however, will likely vary based on your work experience, education level, geographic location, and employer.
The job outlook for hospital administrators is very positive.
According to the US BLS, the number of job openings for medical and health services managers is expected to grow by 28 percent between 2021 and 2031, adding approximately 56,600 new jobs annually throughout the decade. This is significantly higher job growth than the average for all occupations in the country, which the BLS puts at five percent .
An aging baby-boomer population, in particular, has driven an increased need for medical professionals capable of providing health care and managing health systems in the country.
There are a variety of administrative and management positions that overlap with the skills and knowledge used in hospital administration. While the scope of these positions may vary considerably, each supports the health systems, facilities, and health care professionals that save lives every day.
If you’re interested in working in health care in an administrative or managerial capacity, here are some positions similar to hospital administrator that you should consider exploring:
1. Health care administrator
4. Hospital manager
Whether you’re working in a large, university hospital or a small, local one, overseeing the daily operations of these critical health care facilities is a heavy responsibility. As a result, the path to joining the administrative staff of a hospital is one filled with professional training, education, and real-world work experience.
Here’s what you can expect to do as you set out on your own professional journey:
Typically, hospital administrators are required to have a bachelor’s degree in health administration or a related field, such as nursing, health management, public health, or public policy. Due to the financial and business responsibilities that hospital administrators have, you will also likely benefit from taking relevant business courses to better understand how to manage such a complex health care facility as a hospital.
Their wide range of responsibilities mean that hospital administrators must have familiarity with a variety of health care practices, procedures, systems, and standards. At the same time, they’re expected to keep up with important technological and regulatory changes that have the potential to greatly impact their workplace. To prepare for these many responsibilities, you might consider specializing in a relevant field to stand out from the applicant pool. Some of the most common specializations include:
Business and financial management
Hospital administrators must have a keen understanding of health care systems, regulations, and operations while, also demonstrating an ability to lead others, communicate effectively with team members, and manage large projects. As you’re preparing for an administrative career within health care, consider ways you can hone relevant technical and personal skills to ensure that you perform to the best of your abilities.
When it comes to heading the administration of a hospital, employers are rightfully concerned with hiring someone with the experience necessary to ensure they can do the best possible job. As a result, you should seek to gain relevant administrative experience, perhaps by working as an assistant administrator, medical records technician, or clerk within a hospital’s accounting department.
While a bachelor’s degree is an entry-level requirement for most hospital administration jobs, many employers might prefer candidates with a relevant master’s degree. In some cases, they may even require that applicants possess one.
If you’re considering a career in hospital administration, then you might consider obtaining a relevant master’s degree, such as a Master’s of Health Care Administration (MHA), Master’s of Public Health (MPH), or a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) with a focus on health care systems.
Read more: Master's Degrees Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
A career in hospital administration offers the opportunity to facilitate the operations of the systems and facilities that support health care professionals and ensure patients get the care they need. As you’re working toward this impactful career, consider taking a flexible, online course through Coursera.
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US BLS. “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Medical and Health Services Managers, Pay, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm#tab-5.” Accessed October 18, 2022.
Glassdoor. “How much does a Hospital Administrator make?, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/us-hospital-administrator-salary-SRCH_IL.0,2_IN1_KO3,25.htm?clickSource=searchBtn.” Accessed October 18, 2022.
US BLS. “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Medical and Health Services Managers, Job Outlook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm#tab-6.” Accessed October 18, 2022.
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.