How to Become a Nursing Home Administrator

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What is your current role in health care?

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 and achieves their best quality of life. It’s one of the most crucial professions in health care, and it’s a role that requires aspiring health care professionals to meet certain educational and licensing benchmarks.

For those wondering how to become a nursing home administrator, completing a Master of Health Administration degree can be the first key step to pursuing a fulfilling new career.

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 and all its nuances, it can also include other key components associated with a facility’s success, such as finances, human resources, food services, activity coordination, and maintenance. They must also ensure their facility complies with federal, state, and local laws and regulations.
Nursing home administrators may have additional tasks depending on the facility’s size. For instance, if they work in a smaller facility, they may report to a private owner. In larger or chain nursing homes, they may furnish reports to a larger administrative panel, such as a board of directors.

Why Become a Nursing Home Administrator?

Nursing home administrators have the opportunity to make a positive impact in the lives of patients and their families, and the staff and employees who attend to them. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an estimated one in five Americans will be over the age of 65 by the year 2030, and the majority of their families and households are not equipped to accommodate them. Many Americans will turn to nursing homes to care for their loved ones, and nursing home administrators will be responsible for the delivery of that care.

For some professionals, learning how to become a nursing home administrator is an opportunity to transition to a new role in their career, combining a passion for helping others with a management role. As the administrator of a facility, roles and responsibilities can be both extensive and challenging, however they can also be incredibly fulfilling. With control over facility procedures and atmosphere, nursing home administrators are able to shape the living environment of patients, and encourage the positive delivery of care.

Steps to Become a Nursing Home Administrator

When learning how to become a nursing home administrator, students gain the skills to take on 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 for professional success.

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 gain 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, such as a Master of Health Administration. Obtaining this degree can be crucial to a career. Some employers and larger organizations prefer to hire candidates who have 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 degree program’s curriculum commonly offers various opportunities for students to put their skills into practice. This usually involves gaining a set amount of work 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 administrators continue their education to ensure 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.

Skills of a Nursing Home Administrator

Nursing home administrators are highly trained professionals with a broad variety of skills, directing both the operations of health care facilities as well as the medical professionals who staff them. The ability to do so relies on core competencies such as strong communication skills, technical knowledge, and attention to detail. By pursuing an advanced degree such as a masters in health care administration, candidates are able to build in-depth knowledge and the ability to properly apply both hard and soft skills.

The efficient management of a facility is a balancing act. Nursing home administrators must not only be able to communicate with their employees, but with patients and their families, requiring the development of skills such as empathy and active listening. Administrators are also responsible for the policies and procedures that dictate the delivery of care, the documentation of that care, and the reporting of statistics to government agencies. Fulfilling these responsibilities requires deep technical program knowledge and strong attention to detail.

Nursing Home Administrator Salary and Job Growth

As the need for new and larger nursing homes grows, many organizations seek administrative professionals who have an advanced degree and related experience to guide their facilities. Because of their high demand, nursing home administrators typically earn high salaries and are given wide workplace autonomy.

The growing need for nursing homes presents an exciting opportunity for those looking to become administrators. In the past, many administrative roles have been filled by those already working in the medical profession who decided to transition to management or administrative positions. As many of those administrators retire, there is an expanding window of opportunity for interested individuals to fill those roles and pursue an exciting new career.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), health care administration jobs, such as nursing home administrators, are projected to grow by 32% between 2019 and 2029. This represents a substantially faster rate than the average projected growth for all occupations. Those who pursue the role could land a financially rewarding position; the BLS lists the 2020 median annual pay for medical and health services managers at $104,280.

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 varied and widespread, they’re bound together by the underlying goal of delivering care to residents in a manner that affords them dignity.

With its online program, supportive environment, and the ability to graduate in as few as 24 months, the Regis College online Master of Health Administration was designed to provide you with the practical skills to succeed.

Discover how an advanced degree in health administration 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



The Balance Careers, “What Does a Health Care/Hospital Administrator Do?”

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 Administrator Boards, NHA and RC/AL Licensure Requirements

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

U.S Census Bureau, “Is America’s Housing Ready for an Aging Population?”

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

U.S.Census Bureau, “Older Population and Aging”