MHA Careers: Hospital Administrator Requirements

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Handsome mature businessman and beautiful young doctor are looking at camera and smiling while standing in the hospital hall

As leaders of medical institutions, heads of specialty departments, or managers of independent medical practices, hospital administrators are instrumental in keeping the modern health care system running smoothly. These professionals collaborate with internal stakeholders, coordinate patient care initiatives, and ensure that their organizations comply with financial, social, and ethical standards. Earning a Master of Health Administration can elevate health care employees to the executive level in a variety of medical organizations. An important first step toward attaining this type of position is understanding a hospital administrator’s job requirements, key responsibilities, and optimal paths toward career success.

What Is a Hospital Administrator?

The hospital administrator position is a challenging role that requires a diverse set of skills to plan, coordinate, and deliver health care services in a medical organization. Hospital administrators oversee a variety of medical environments, and their duties often extend beyond the traditional responsibilities of managers in other types of industries.

Hospital administrators identify and implement organizational policies that improve the efficiency and quality of the services their facilities provide. In practice, they develop departmental objectives, hire and train personnel, supervise and evaluate staff, establish and maintain record management systems, and oversee daily operations. As part of their typical job duties, hospital administrators are often responsible for conducting fiscal operations and meeting financial goals so their organizations can optimize the use of their assets. This includes preparing budgets, authorizing expenses, managing billing, defining rates, and reporting. Administrators also serve as their organizations’ internal experts on health care regulations and operational code compliance.

Communication plays a large part in the success of a hospital administrator. In addition to having industry knowledge and technical training, administrators must be able to communicate effectively and clearly with a variety of audiences in a medical facility. They must communicate information with authority through methods that are easy to understand for medical staff, subordinates, board members, and investors. Technology is a crucial component of the modern medical landscape, and hospital administrators should be well-versed in the technological innovations that can help with the accuracy and efficiency of their organizations.

Hospital Administrator Education Requirements

There are a number of undergraduate programs with a concentration in health services management. While this is a great place for aspiring hospital administrators to begin, the majority of medical institutions will require a master’s degree for candidates seeking executive positions and other senior administrative roles with higher earning potential. Because of the diversity of the health care industry and the complexity of regulations and medical operations, hospital administrators need the comprehensive education provided by master’s degree programs.

Aspiring hospital administrators should consider pursuing a Master of Health Administration to tap into potential career growth opportunities. While graduate programs vary, students enrolled in the Master of Health Administration program at Regis College can typically earn their degree in as few as 20 months. The multidisciplinary approach to the coursework emphasizes skills needed to be a leader in a health services organization. MHA students gain a foundational understanding of health care policy and law, organizational behavior and strategy, financial planning and analysis, human resources, marketing and communications, information systems, and other related fields. Employers also look for work experience, and many master’s degree programs offer field studies, internships, and fellowships.

Hospital Administrator Salary and Job Growth

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2017 median annual wage for medical and health services managers was $98,350, higher than for many other management occupations. Those who reported working in hospitals cited higher figures than health services managers working in government settings, outpatient care centers, physician practices, and nursing and residential care facilities.

Hospital administrators are in high demand, and the need for these skilled professionals is likely to increase. The BLS forecasts the employment of medical and health services managers to grow 20 percent from 2016 to 2026. In 2014, Forbes listed the master’s in health care administration as one of the best degrees for job growth, and O*Net Online considers hospital administrator a “bright outlook” occupation, meaning it is a rapidly growing profession.

Additional Certifications

Earning specialized certifications allows MHA graduates to demonstrate their proficiency in specific disciplines of health administration. Enhancing their scope of work with additional credentials can potentially lead to salary increases and improved job mobility. Here are some of the certifications and licenses that health care executives can pursue.

Nursing Home Administrators License: All states require nursing home administrators to be licensed. Licensing requirements vary, but most include a bachelor’s degree, the completion of a state-approved training program, and passing a national licensing exam. Many states are also adopting the Health Services Executive qualification as a new licensure category.

Board Certification in Healthcare Management: Fellows of the American College of Healthcare Executives must demonstrate they hold a master’s degree and an executive management position, and prove their enrollment in continuing education courses. They must also pass the Board of Governors Examination in Healthcare Management.

Medical Management Certification: Offered by the Professional Association of Health Care Management, this certification is for managers of independent providers and small group physician practices.

Health Information Management Certifications: The American Health Information Management Association’s certifications focus on industry-specific information systems, coding, privacy and security, and data analysis.

The hospital administrator requirements don’t stop at career placement. Hospitals expect their administrators to complete continuing education courses throughout their careers so they can be up to date on the latest regulations, technological advancements, and industry best practices.

MHAs Provide Strong Career Foundations

In today’s health care landscape, the requirements to become a hospital administrator have evolved beyond a bachelor’s degree. A large aging population, changes in health care policies, and medical technology improvements are factors contributing to the need for more skilled health care executives. Hospital administrators are pivotal for a medical practice’s achievement of its financial, social, and ethical goals — and ultimately, for the best possible patient care. To fill openings with the most qualified candidates, medical organizations are increasing their hospital administrator requirements. A Master of Health Administration can set the foundation for a potentially rewarding and lucrative career as a hospital administrator.

Learn More

Graduates of Regis College’s online Master of Health Administration program are equipped with the skills to become successful leaders in a variety of health professions. Find more details about courses and future career options on Regis’ MHA program website.


Recommended Readings:

How to Become a Hospital Administrator

What Is the Importance of Communication in Health Care?

How to Become a Hospital CEO



American College of Health Care Administrators

American College of Healthcare Executives

American Health Information Management Association

Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education

Forbes, “The Best and Worst Master’s Degrees for Jobs in 2014”

National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards

O*Net OnLine

Professions & Professionalism,“Hospital Administration as a Profession”

U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics