Career Paths in Healthcare Management: An Overview

The career opportunities in healthcare management are practically endless. Advances in medical technology allow people to live longer than ever before which has resulted in healthcare being one of the fastest growing industries in the United States. With a degree in either healthcare management, healthcare administration, or public health, graduates can pursue a variety of career paths including hospital administration. This is a rapidly changing industry, therefore it is imperative that students and professionals alike continue to enhance their education so as to be at the forefront of their careers. Use the links below to jump to a section:

Occupational Highlights

Health managers must have a strong concept of the inner-workings of a business and be fluent in medical jargon and medical legal practices. The need for qualified health managers is growing due to medical advances and healthier lifestyles.

If you are pursuing a healthcare administration or related degree, the table below from the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides current annual median salary and projected growth of the major job-categories applicable to your major.

Employment, job growth, and annual wages of medical/healthcare management and related careers from 2012-2022

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections Data Tools

Gaining Experience

To become a healthcare manager or administrator, employers often prefer candidates with an advanced degree and experience in the field. Health administrative and managerial positions involve overseeing both the medical and the business side of the organization. Consequently, experience can come in many forms.

Entry-Level Careers

This is an exciting time to enter the healthcare management field. Below are several job possibilities in the health and medical services industry with strong market demand for entry-level talent:

  • Pharmacy Technician – Since this position only requires a high school diploma or GED, it is a great way to receive immediate hands-on training while still pursuing higher education. As a pharmacy technician, you would measure, package, and label prescriptions, and enter information given to you by customers and other healthcare professionals.
  • Health Information Technician – This position requires a post-secondary certificate and/or an associate’s degree in health information technology. Here you will code medical notes using classification software, discuss reported inaccuracies with patients, and organize both physical and electronic client records.
  • Medical Transcriptionist – Either a one-year vocational certification program or an associate’s degree program is required for this position, and some employers may require additional certification. As a transcriptionist, you must be able to work quickly and efficiently. When dictating medical records, you will need to analyze them for inconsistencies in both the speech-recognition software and the report itself.
  • Medical Assistant – Most medical assistants have completed an associate’s or vocational certification program, but some can begin with only a high school diploma or GED and receive training from their employers. You must be able to help the physician with the patient examinations upon intake, and this includes obtaining their vital signs, blood, and personal and family medical history.

If none of the above align with your career goals, there are internships and residences that are typically offered to both undergraduate and graduate students. While some of them do not pay, the experience gained is invaluable. Another way to bulk-up your resume is through positions that enhance your understanding of an organization as a business. These are a few entry-level job titles that can help prepare you for the operational tasks expected of a healthcare manager.

  • Receptionist – Only requiring a high school diploma or GED, this position is great for undergraduate students who want to break out into the business world. Receptionists can be found in a variety of businesses including hospitals. Their daily tasks include greeting clients, answering phone calls, taking down and forwarding messages, and confirming appointments and cancellations with the respective parties.
  • Administrative Assistant – A high school diploma or GED may be passable, however many employers prefer those with an associate’s degree or some collegiate background. In addition to the duties of a receptionist, administrative assistants arrange staff meetings, organize and edit company correspondences (memos, mail, finances, reports), perform simple bookkeeping, and organize electronic and physical filing systems.
  • Medical Insurance Claim Examiners and Investigators – Many employers prefer those who have completed either a vocational certificate or associate’s degree program. In this position you would process a claim submitted by a healthcare facility, analyze the cost, decide how much insurance will cover, and determine if the claim is necessary, elective, or fraudulent.

Healthcare Manager and Healthcare Administrator

It can be difficult to assess the differences between healthcare administration and healthcare management. These two positions are, in fact, very similar. They both require a bachelor’s degree, and at some smaller healthcare facilities they often combine the responsibilities of the two jobs into one in order to save on hiring costs. However, there are several key differences that make having employees in each of these titles a necessity. Take a look at the chart below to see a side-by-side comparison of each position’s responsibilities.

Healthcare manager and healthcare administrator responsibilities compared

Essentially an administrator focused primarily on short-term operational goals while the manager guarantees the success of the organization through the development of long-term business plans. Each of these positions communicate with each other often, which can blur the line of who is responsible for what.

Other Career Opportunities

While you are pursuing a degree in health administration, health management, or public health, you may be unaware of the many other career possibilities that these degree programs prepare you for. Check out some of the career opportunities for those with a public health or healthcare management related degree.

  • Community Health Educator – With more of a focus on public health, this position requires a bachelor’s degree and some employers prefer addition certification. Health educators plan events designed around a specific community’s needs to teach them about various health topics and provide them with the necessary local healthcare services contact information.
  • Community Service Manager – This is another great career for those with a bachelor’s in public health. As a community service manager you will collaborate with other healthcare officials to establish areas of improvement within a community and implement various on-going programs and one-time events. At these events, you are responsible for managing those providing healthcare services to the clients.
  • Insurance Underwriter – Excellent financial skills and a business-centered bachelor’s degree are standard qualifications of an employee in this career. Responsibilities as an insurance underwriter include reviewing insurance applications and evaluating the coverage possibilities, analyze applicants and determine proper coverage plan , and contacting stakeholders for further information about claims and applications.
  • Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) – CEOs can refer to the chief financial officers (CFOs), chief information officers (CIOs), and chief operating officers (COOs) within an organization. These positions all require advanced degrees and job experience. A healthcare manager can be promoted to either a CFO or CIO should they decide to shift their career-focus slightly. However, a COO position is traditionally the next step up for healthcare administrators and managers.

Healthcare management is a rapidly growing field with a plethora of promising career opportunities. Whether you are just starting your degree program in public health, health management, or health administration or are a seasoned professional, many exciting opportunities await. Check out other features of this website to learn more about this ever-evolving industry.

In order to work in hospital administration or related field, you’ll need the right credentials in place. The schools listed below offer the education you’ll need to work towards your career goals.

American University
  • MSA
Our Lady of the Lake University
  • SACS
Creighton University
  • HLC
  • NCA
Kaplan University
  • HLC
  • NCA

Click here to see more Hospital Administration degrees