How to Become a Nursing Home Administrator

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A nursing home administrator does more than oversee a facility’s delivery of care to its residents. They’re tasked with ensuring that every resident retains their dignity. It’s one of the most crucial professions in health care, and it’s a role that requires aspiring health care professionals to meet educational and licensing benchmarks.

What Is a Nursing Home Administrator?

Before exploring how to become a nursing home administrator, it’s important to gain a complete understanding of the role’s responsibilities. These professionals oversee a nursing home facility’s day-to-day operations. While this can include medical care delivery, it can also include other key components associated with facility living, such as finances, human resources, food services, activity coordination, and maintenance. They must also ensure that a facility’s processes comply with federal, state, and local laws.

Nursing home administrators may have additional tasks depending on the facility’s size. For instance, if they work in a smaller facility, they may have to report to a private owner. In larger or chain nursing homes, they may have to furnish reports to a larger administrative panel, such as a board of directors.

Steps to Become a Nursing Home Administrator

Because the nursing home administrator assumes numerous critical responsibilities, prospective administrators must complete several essential steps in pursuing this role. These requirements are designed to enable them to hone the fundamental skills and competencies. These skills can be fully developed by completing an advanced degree, such as Regis College’s online Master of Health Administration.

Some of these skills — critical thinking, being analytical, and being detail oriented — are essential to adeptly handle the business functions associated with the position. Because nursing home administrators interact with staff and residents, they must have strong interpersonal communication skills and compassion and empathy. They also need solid technical skills, as they will commonly use computer systems and programs to keep track of various facility functions.

Step 1: Earn a Degree

The skills that help define the nursing home administrator role are carefully cultivated through higher education. This process begins with students earning their bachelor’s degree, preferably in a subject related to health care administration, such as nursing. Students may also enroll in various courses to get a basic understanding of the role’s business side, such as accounting or management.

Those interested in a high-level health care role such as a nursing home administrator will commonly pursue an advanced degree through a program such as Regis College’s online Master of Health Administration. Obtaining this degree can be crucial to a career ― some employers and larger organizations prefer to hire people with a master’s degree, and larger organizations may even make an advanced degree a prerequisite for applying. Earning this type of degree can demonstrate to a potential employer that the applicant has a deeper understanding of the job’s fundamentals and a well-honed skill set to perform in the role at a high level.

Step 2: Gain Work Experience

It’s crucial for students to gain hands-on experience in addition to earning a degree. A program’s curriculum commonly offers various opportunities for students to put their skills into practice. This usually involves gaining a set amount of field experience hours in a health administration environment.

Step 3: Earn a License to Practice

Although each state requires nursing home administrators to be licensed before they’re allowed to assume the role, the specific requirements vary by state. In addition to these state licenses, candidates must also pass a licensing exam from the National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards.

Some states may require nursing home administrators to renew their license after a set period of time. States may also require that they continue their education to ensure that they’re current with any changes to laws or regulations. This requirement varies by state, and it’s important for professionals to be aware of the latest updates.

Job Growth in the Profession

The U.S. Census Bureau projects that by 2029, one in five Americans will be 65 or older. This and other statistics that demonstrate an anticipated influx of aging boomers point to an increased future need for qualified, highly skilled nursing home administrators. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), health care administration jobs, such as nursing home administrators, are projected to grow by 20% between 2016 and 2026. This represents a substantially faster rate than the 7% growth the BLS projects for the average profession. Those who pursue the role could land a financially rewarding position: the BLS lists the 2018 median annual pay for health care administrators at $99,730.

An Important Role in Health Care

The nursing home administrator role comprises essential duties that must be executed properly to ensure effectiveness. While these responsibilities are widespread, they’re bound together by the underlying goal of delivering care to residents in a manner that affords them dignity. Discover how Regis College’s online Master of Health Administration program can help prepare you to excel in this challenging and rewarding role.

Recommended Readings:

Expand Your Health Care Administration Skills by Earning an MHA

Types of Health Care Administration Jobs for MHA Graduates

What Health Administration Professionals Need to Know About the Future of Health Care


Houston Chronicle, “Requirements for Nursing Home Administrators”

McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, “SNF Administrator Salaries Jump Nearly 4%, DONs 2.7% Survey  Finds”

National Association of Long Term Care Administration Boards, NHA and RC/AL Licensure Requirements

Regis College, Online Master of Health Administration

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Medical and Health Services Managers

U.S. Census Bureau, “The Baby Boom Cohort in the United States: 2012 to 2060”

Verywell Health, “Becoming a Nursing Home Administrator”