What Is Health Care Management? A Career Guide

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Look at careers in health care management, health care management skills, and the path to take to gain a good health care management salary.

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

Health care management professionals keep hospitals, medical centers, and doctors' offices functioning and serving the community with the best possible care, medical products, and services. Careers in health care management have excellent earning potential and allow you to make a difference in people’s lives.

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 and budgets to allow maximum efficiency and quality. They make sure budgets allow maximum efficiency and quality and usually manage a team of medical staff.

5 reasons to consider a career in health care management

Jobs in health care management are growing and bring some excellent benefits. Front-line roles typically come to mind when thinking about health care and medicine. However, being in a position to influence health care policies and how services are run and managed requires a different set of skills and offers great rewards.

1. Ability to make an impact on your community

A health care management career allows you to impact the community you live in or serve. You can devise new policies that support the community, train staff to deliver your services, and even work directly with patients to help them with financial aspects, such as billing and insurance. You have an impact at a high level, making sure the facilities, services, and initiatives offered truly benefit the people who need them. 

2. Earning potential 

According to the Government of Canada Job Bank, health care managers make a median pay of $50.00 per hour [2]. Keep in mind salaries may be impacted by province, years of experience, and education level.

3. Demand for health care management professionals

The demand for health care professionals is high worldwide, including in Canada. That includes an increased need for health care management professionals, such as health care administrators. 

The job prospects for clinical directors and other similar health care managers are “Good” to “Very Good” through 2025 in most provinces and territories, according to the Government of Canada Job Bank [3].  This is very promising for those pursuing this field, especially as many different roles are available under the health care management umbrella. 

4. Variety of options

Health care management is a term covering roles in various settings. While you may immediately think of hospitals and doctors' offices, health care management professionals can work in many places, including nursing homes, public health centres, research for colleges and university research labs, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies.

5. High job satisfaction 

Careers in health care management come with high levels of job satisfaction. This is primarily due to the ability to see your work's impact on the community and patients. Knowing that the services you oversee and initiatives you put together benefit the people who need them is rewarding, as is seeing the effort and dedication of the medical teams you manage. 

Careers in health care management

Health care management careers are vast. Not only are there opportunities in various settings with many titles and responsibilities, but there are also positions in entry-level, director, and even VP-level management. This means you have plenty of job options, regardless of your experience level, with opportunities to advance within the field. 

Job responsibilities

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

  • Developing and implementing organisational-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

  • Working directly with health boards, stakeholders, medical staff, and investors

Key skills

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

  • Communication

  • Moral judgment

  • Problem-solving

  • Flexibility

  • Time management

  • Team management

  • Stress management 

  • Decision making

  • Mentoring 

  • Organization

You also need to show some practical skills such as:

  • Excellence at working with figures and budgets

  • Performance of data analysis 

  • Knowledge of quality standards

  • Understanding business principles and strategies 

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

Related career paths

Health care management encompasses various roles in a range of settings. Some common titles include:

  • Case manager

  • Clinical director

  • Social services director 

  • Hospital administrator

  • Medical director

  • Nursing home manager

  • Director of nursing

  • Public health director

  • Welfare services administrator

How to get a job in health care management

A health care management career requires certain skills, qualifications, and experience. However, compared with many other positions in the medical world, you have more options to start at a lower entry point and work your way up, with less need for higher-level graduate degrees. 

1. Earn your degree. 

You’ll typically want to start with a bachelor's degree in health administration. As you earn your education, you'll study topics like hospital management, ethics, human resources, and health economics.

Depending on the specific job interests you, you may also need to earn a master's degree in an area like public health or business administration. Some schools offer graduate programs aimed specifically at the type where you might work, like a hospital or nursing home. 

2. Explore internships, fellowships, and residencies.

To get a detailed understanding of the field and management experience, you’ll need good clinical experience in a business or administrative position. While studying, consider internships, fellowships, and residencies. These can give you a foot in the door and valuable hands-on experience. 

If you’re seeking a career change, make sure you leverage any relevant previous experience where possible. 

3. Be willing to start at the bottom while gaining experience.

You may need to start in an entry-level position to gain the necessary experience. You’ll typically need a bachelor’s degree to get these positions and gain experience in relevant areas. Business and administration experience is valuable, but you’ll also need some experience in health care or the medical field. 

4. Build a stable work history. 

Working in a management position means you gained some experience as you moved through the ranks. Walking into a management role with no experience isn’t common, so it’s important to highlight everything you’ve done to date that has led you to where you are now. 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 certification.

If you want to make yourself stand out as a viable candidate, consider a certification on top of a bachelor's or master’s degree. 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. Popular examples are Salesforce, HubSpot, and Microsoft Office. Knowledge in these or other areas through additional certification can set you apart as having that little bit more. 

Next steps

Is a career in health care management for you? A great place to start is to get your bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject, such as the University of London’s Bachelor of Science in Business Administration program on Coursera.

Article sources


Job Bank Canada. “Executive Director, Hospital in Canada: Prevailing wages in Canada, https://www.jobbank.gc.ca/marketreport/wages-occupation/1129/ca.” Accessed May 7, 2024.

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