What Is a Nursing Home Administrator? Benefits + Getting Started

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Nursing home administrators manage long-term care facilities to ensure patients and employees get their needs met. Here’s a guide to what they do and how to get started.

[Featured Image]:  A male, nursing home administrator, with short black hair, wearing glasses, wearing a blue white patterned shirt with a dark tie, is speaking to staff, one male with a green uniform and a female wearing a white coat, patterned dress, who is holding her laptop.

In a nursing home or long-term care facility, nursing home administrators are responsible for managing logistics, operations, and human resources. Like a principal in a school, the administrator takes care of any administrative duties to ensure both employees and patients have what they need to provide and receive safe and legal health care.

The number of health care jobs is projected to grow 16 percent between 2020 and 2030, which is much faster than the average for all occupations [1]. With an aging population entering long-term care facilities, and this demand for health care jobs, becoming a nursing home administrator could be a smart career choice for you. 

This article will guide you through what a nursing home administrator is and how to get started

What is a nursing home administrator?

Nursing home administrators manage the day-to-day operations of nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and retirement homes. While they are mostly responsible for administrative and clinical duties, they also help foster a safe, healthy environment for workers and residents. 

Much of the operations and logistics are focused on making sure the facility adheres to state and federal regulations. This enables the facilities to continue receiving funding from the government and insurance companies.

Some nursing home administrators are nurses and doctors who understand how these facilities work and how to improve the clinical aspects. At times, they are the most senior members of the management team, but at larger facilities will have assistance from financial directors or nurse supervisors.


As a nursing home administrator, you’ll have primary responsibilities as well as day-to-day tasks that support those main functions. 

You’ll be expected to coordinate and supervise how health care is delivered within the facility, monitoring all the departments and moving parts to make sure they are compliant with state and federal regulatory guidelines. Nursing home administrators act as liaisons between health care staff, nurses, families, and the public—and they are constantly seeking out ways to maintain a happy, safe, and healthy environment.

Tasks might include:

  • Delegating tasks for providing 24/7 care

  • Scheduling activities for residents (patients)

  • Overseeing billing, expenses, and accounting

  • Attending meetings to discuss budget, compliance, and operational policies

  • Coordinating work schedules for staff

  • Purchasing medical equipment and supplies

  • Hiring, training, and evaluating health care professionals and staff

  • Managing patient records systems, processes, and tools

Interested in the complex legal framework that governs the US health system? Take the Healthcare Law Specialization from the University of Pennsylvania to learn about how laws shape the relationship between health care providers and their patients.

Skills needed

If you are considering a career as a nursing home administrator, you’ll need the following skills to succeed.

Develop your understanding of human resources

The Health Service Delivery and Human Resources for Health from Imperial College London is the third in the Health Systems Development specialization. You’ll learn about and analyze how health services delivery is considered at a nationwide level, and learn how to address human resources for health challenges.


Salary and job outlook

Nursing home administrators, along with other medical and health services managers, can earn an annual median salary of $101,340 [2]. The job outlook is also promising, as it is projected to grow 32 percent and is much faster than the average of 7.7 percent [2, 3].

Benefits of becoming a nursing home administrator

Nursing home administrators get to be the “face” of a nursing home, adult care community, or other long-term care facility. Administrators get to work with many people and teams. They are typically paid well and in high-demand, while also making a positive difference in the long-term care sector. 

How to become a nursing home administrator

Do you think a career as a nursing home administrator is right for you? Before you begin, check out your state’s requirements for becoming one. The exact requirements will vary state by state. Here are the steps to becoming one. 

1. Get a bachelor’s degree.

To become a nursing home administrator, you’ll likely need a bachelor’s degree. While it is recommended that you get a health administration degree, you can also major in business administration or any other health-related field.

You may also need to complete a course in nursing home administration before moving forward. Some states require an Administrator-in-Training (AIT) Program (typically an internship) or field experience. Many nurses or doctors go on to become nursing home administrators, so they are already qualified to take the exam. For some employers, a master’s degree is required.

According to Zippia, 60 percent of nursing home administrators hold a bachelor’s degree, while 19 percent have a master’s and 14 percent have an associate degree [4].

2. Take the exam.

After you’ve earned at least a bachelor’s degree and the necessary training, you can take the Nursing Home Administrator Licensing Examination administered by the National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards. The exam will test your knowledge of [5]:

  • Care, services, and supports

  • Operations

  • Environment and quality

  • Leadership and strategy

The exam consists of two components:

  • Core of Knowledge Exam for Long Term Care Administrators with 110 questions 

  • Nursing Home Administrators Line of Service Exam with 55 questions

3. Renew license with continuing education.

After you’ve passed the exam and met all of the qualifications for obtaining your license, you’ll need to complete continuing education courses every two years. These courses help you stay sharp and up-to-date with any advancements in long-term care.

Further, while a bachelor’s degree tends to be the minimum requirement of education for a nursing home administrator, many go on to earn master’s degrees. They usually choose to pursue an MBA, MHA, or even an MPH. These programs provide the knowledge and credibility needed to manage a specialized health organization. 

Start your health career with Coursera

Your career in health care can start today. Enroll in any one of Coursera’s courses or specializations with a free trial, including this Healthcare Organization Operations Specialization from Rutgers University. You’ll learn the ins and outs of how health organizations run, so you can get a head start as a nursing home administrator.

Related articles

Article sources

1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Healthcare Occupations, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home.htm.” Accessed August 17, 2022. 

2. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Medical and Health Services Managers, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm.” Accessed August 17, 2022. 

3. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Employment to grow 7.7 percent from 2020 to 2030; 1.7 percent excluding COVID-19 recovery, https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2021/employment-to-grow-7-7-percent-from-2020-to-2030-1-7-percent-excluding-covid-19-recovery.htm.” Accessed August 17, 2022. 

4. Zippia. “Nursing Home Administrator Education Requirements, https://www.zippia.com/nursing-home-administrator-jobs/education/.” Accessed August 17, 2022. 

5. NAB. “Long Term Care Administrators Candidate Handbook,  https://www.nabweb.org/filebin/pdf/Reference_Documents/NAB_Handbook_July_2022.pdf." Accessed August 22, 2022.

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