How to Become a Hospital Administrator

A hospital administrator holds a meeting with a doctor and two nurses.

Hospital administrators play a critical role in helping their organizations provide high-quality patient care. These professionals provide leadership and guidance in a time of changing regulations, technologies, and staffing needs. As demand for health care leaders continues to rise, a growing number of people are investigating how to become a hospital administrator.

Whether they are 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 their organizations comply with financial, social, and ethical standards.

Earning an online Master of Health of Administration (MHA) can elevate degree holders to the executive level in a variety of medical organizations. An important first step toward becoming a hospital administrator is understanding 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 who work in other types of industries.

A facility can have one or multiple hospital administrators depending on its size. Regardless of number, the work of those in the profession ensure an efficiently-run facility. This efficiency produces a higher level of effectiveness when it comes to patient care delivery. Ultimately, their work can be critical for a facility to achieve its primary goal of improving patient outcomes.

Hospital Administrator Job Description

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 service rates, and providing financial 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 should be able to communicate effectively and clearly with a variety of audiences. They should relay information with authority in a manner that is easy to understand for medical staff, subordinates, board members, investors, and other stakeholders.

Technology is another crucial component of the modern medical landscape. Hospital administrators should be well versed in the technological and digital innovations that can help with the accuracy and efficiency of their organizations.

These core competencies are crucial to not only executing the role’s daily duties, but are critical to ensuring the efficiency that’s so important for a facility to perform at its peak.

Steps and Education Requirements to Become Hospital Administrator

The journey to becoming a hospital administrator contains numerous important steps. Each step plays a crucial role in strengthening an individual’s knowledge and skill set, preparing them to tackle the numerous duties associated with the role.

Step 1: Earn Your Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree in health administration or a related field such as nursing or business administration is required to become a hospital administrator. A number of undergraduate programs offer a concentration in health services management. This will provide individuals the foundational elements that help support their knowledge base and skill set as it expands.

Step 2: Gain Work Experience

Hospital administrators often have previous experience working with patients. For example, many have worked as clinical technicians, certified nursing assistants, or phlebotomists. Professionals with experience in other business settings may also develop the fundamental skills to become a hospital administrator.

Gaining work experience enables individuals to apply their knowledge and skills in a practical, real-world environment. This could enable them to develop and hone some of the skills considered essential to becoming an effective hospital administrator, such as leadership.

 Step 3: Earn Your Master’s Degree

While a bachelor’s degree is a necessary educational start for aspiring hospital administrators, the majority of medical institutions will require a master’s degree for candidates who are seeking executive positions and other senior administrative roles.

Because of the diversity of the health care industry and the complexity of its regulations and medical operations, hospital administrators commonly need the comprehensive education provided by master’s degree programs.

While graduate programs vary, students enrolled in the Master of Health Administration (MHA) program at Regis College can typically earn their degree in as few as 20 months. The multidisciplinary approach to the coursework emphasizes the skills 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.

MHA programs emphasize general business practices such as accounting, finance, economics, strategy, management, marketing, technology, and information systems. In addition to developing strong business acumen, primary coursework is focused in the following areas.

  • Medical informatics and decision management
  • Health care financial management
  • Community and public health
  • Health economics and quantitative methods
  • Quality and performance improvement
  • Health care law and policy

Hospital Administrator Salary and Job Growth

Professionals who are interested in learning how to become hospital administrators find excellent career potential. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the 2020 median annual wage for medical and health services managers was $104,280 —  higher than the salary of many other management occupations. Those who reported working in hospitals and government settings cited higher salaries than health services managers who work in 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 32% from 2019 to 2029. The Bureau expects other management occupations to grow at a rate of 3%, while growth for all occupations is projected at 4% in the same time period.  O*Net Online, the career data website, considers hospital administrator a “bright outlook” occupation, meaning it is a rapidly growing profession.

Hospital administrators play a crucial role in ensuring the success of health organizations. Every aspect of the operation of a medical facility depends on talented executives who are able to proactively adapt as market and technological changes occur at an unprecedented pace.

The health care field will continue to grow and become more complex. The aging U.S. population, for example, is driving higher demand for health care services and health professionals of all types. As the health care sector evolves, the responsibility of keeping providers functioning in a cohesive, focused manner becomes more important and more valuable.

Become a Hospital Administrator with an MHA Degree

In today’s health care landscape, the requirements to become a hospital administrator have evolved beyond a bachelor’s degree. An aging population that continues to grow, changes in health care policies, and medical technology improvements are some of the key factors that are contributing to the need for greater numbers of skilled health care executives.

Hospital administrators are pivotal in enabling medical providers to achieve their financial, social, and ethical goals — and ultimately, to deliver 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 for those who want to become hospital administrators.

The online MHA program at Regis College prepares graduates for success in the growing job market for hospital administrators. Graduates of the Regis College online MHA program are equipped with the skills to become successful leaders in a variety of health professions and settings.

If you are interested in learning how to become a hospital administrator, explore the Master of Health Administration degree program at Regis College today.

Recommended Readings

How to Become a Hospital CEO

What Is the Importance of Communication in Health Care?

Why Work in Health Care?


American College of Health Care Administrators

American College of Healthcare Executives

American College of Healthcare Executives, Develop Your Network

American College of Healthcare Executives, FACHE

American Health Information Management Association

Association of University Programs in Health Administration

Commission of Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education

Houston Chronicle, “Comparison of Health Care Management Vs. Health Care Administration”

National Association of Long Term Care Administration Boards

O’Net Online, Bright Outlook Occupation: Medical and Health Services Managers

PayScale, Average Hospital Administrator Salary

Professions & Professionalism, “Hospital Administration as a Profession”

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