Becoming a hospital administrator

How to Become a Hospital Administrator

Hospitals are busy places full of life’s drama. While most people will focus on the doctors, nurses, and patients, behind the scenes, hospital administrators play an important role in keeping the hospital running smoothly. In fact, career opportunities for medical and health services managers, including hospital administrators, are projected to grow very rapidly over the next 10 years. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job openings for health care managers should rise by 32% nationwide over the 2019-2029 period, potentially adding up to 133,200 new positions.  

If you’re interested in pursuing a career as a hospital administrator, this short guide can help you learn more about the role, its duties, and how to get started on the path to a job in the field. We’ll answer some frequently asked questions about the hospital administrator career path in this article, including:

What Is a Hospital Administrator?

A hospital administrator is a professional who handles the business side of health care. They may manage a specific business function, such as finances or human resources, or they may manage all business functions for a specific department, such as pediatric medicine or general surgery. At the highest level, hospital administrators are the executives of an entire hospital facility.

Hospital administrators usually hold at least a bachelor’s degree in health care administration, though MBAs in health care administration are becoming more common (and may be more preferred by employers).

What Does a Hospital Administrator Do?

Hospital administrators plan, coordinate, and assess the quality of health care services. Their day-to-day duties will depend on whether they manage a hospital facility or a specific department, but will often include: 

  • Consulting and communicating with doctors, nurses, and other members of the medical staff, including department heads
  • Developing goals for their department or facility
  • Identifying opportunities to improve quality and efficiency of care
  • Recruiting, training, and supervising staff members, including developing or approving staff schedules
  • Ensuring appropriate safety, security, and emergency procedures are in place for their department or facility
  • Taking responsibility for ensuring the facility and care practices are in line with laws, regulations, and codes
  • Developing budgets, monitoring spending, and ensuring billing and payments are handled correctly
  • Overseeing the maintenance of facility records and ensuring statistics or data are reported to relevant governing bodies — e.g., state medical boards, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), etc.
  • Attending board meetings on behalf of their facility or department

Skills Needed to Become a Hospital Administrator

Hospital administrators need a range of skills that cover knowledge of business administration, finance, human resource management, health care law and policy, medical terminology, medical insurance practices, and much more. Hospital administrator qualifications usually include evidence of higher education in business administration or health care administration.

Specific skills may include:

  • Working knowledge of medical science, including pathology, infection control, and the types of treatments their department or facility provides
  • Leadership, team building, and management skills, including delegation, motivation, conflict resolution, and more
  • Financial management skills, including specific knowledge of health care finance and revenue cycle management
  • Human resource management for clinical and non-clinical staff, including training, recruiting, performance evaluation, and retention
  • Professional writing, research, speaking, and presenting skills
  • Knowledge of legal, regulatory, and ethical considerations which can impact the management and provision of health care at their facility
  • Qualitative and quantitative analysis skills, including a working knowledge of statistics
  • An understanding of the U.S. health care system, including public and private providers, insurance options, insurance and billing processes, and more

Steps to Becoming a Hospital Administrator

Hospital administration job requirements include education and training. For people from a non-medical background, this will include four to six years of education in business or health care administration. 

Current clinical professionals who want to move into health care administration may be able to gain the knowledge and skills they need with just a graduate program, such as GMercyU’s MBA in Health Care Administration or our online Graduate Certificate in Health Care Administration.

Below, we focus on the steps a non-clinical professional can take to become a hospital administrator.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree (Four Years)

First, you will need to earn a bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s teaches the foundation of skills you will need to qualify for entry-level management roles. 

While a business administration degree is a good start, the increasing complexity of the health care system means it may be better to earn a health care-focused business degree if you want to become a hospital administrator. 

GMercyU’s Bachelor of Science in Health Care Administration is one option. If you have an associate degree (or an equal number of transferable credits), you may be able to complete your health care administration bachelor’s degree online with us.

After you graduate from your bachelor’s, you have a choice: move right into an MBA program, or build experience before returning to graduate school. 

Step 2: Earn a Master’s Degree or Grad Certificate (1-2 Years)

Earning a master’s degree to become a hospital administrator typically takes about two years. The good news is, there are many programs now available online, which means you may be able to work and study at the same time. GMercyU’s online Master of Business Administration in Health Care Administration is an accelerated two-year program that can accommodate full-time careers.

If you already have a master’s degree or don’t want to commit to a full MBA yet, you can opt to earn a graduate certificate instead. This type of program, such as our online Graduate Certificate in Health Care Administration, teaches a selection of MBA-level courses targeted to a specific field. You can complete our graduate certificate program in one year. 

Step 3: Gain Experience in Hospital Administration

Next, you will want to build your resume with jobs in health care or hospital administration. Your bachelor’s degree should help you pursue entry-level roles within hospital departments. If you already have your MBA or graduate certificate, you may qualify for more senior roles, especially if you already have management and administration experience in another industry or another area of health care.

Step 4: Obtain Industry Certification (Optional)

Finally, you can pursue certification to enhance your resume, although this is optional — no states require licensure or certification for hospital administrators.  However, if you become certified, you send a signal to employers that you are dedicated to a career in health care administration. 

It also sends an additional signal of quality — usually, certification programs require you to complete advanced education (such as an MBA in Health Care Administration) or demonstrate that you have significant experience in the field. 

Start a Career in Hospital Administration with GMercyU!

We hope this guide has helped you gain some clarity about what it takes to become a hospital administrator. Find out how GMercyU’s online MBA in Health Care Administration or online Graduate Certificate in Health Care Administration can help you get started on a hospital administrator career path: contact us today!