What Can You Do With a Healthcare Management Degree? The Business Behind the Medicine
By Kirsten Slyter on 01/20/2020
You know you need to make a career change and you’ve heard plenty of good things about career opportunities in healthcare. After all, people will always need medical treatments and it’s an industry you can feel good about working in.
But it’s understandable if the idea of dealing with blood, germs and the other generally unpleasant things that may come with direct patient care is giving you pause. Fortunately for you, there’s another path you can take to working in this thriving field—earning a Healthcare Management degree and finding a role within the business side of healthcare.
Join us as we take a look at what you can do with a Healthcare Management degree and address some of the most pressing questions about healthcare management jobs.
What do healthcare management professionals do?
Healthcare managers and administrators are at the heart of the business side of healthcare, as they’re in charge of budgeting, scheduling and seeking out ways to improve patient care. This profession will leverage your stellar organizational and communication skills while allowing you to make a difference in the lives of others.
Healthcare managers spend their days managing and coordinating health services in clinics, hospitals and nursing homes. It’s a job that’s rewarding both philanthropically and financially.
The median annual salary for health services managers was $99,730 in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).1 The job outlook for these roles is strong as well, with employment projected to grow at the much-faster-than-average rate of 18 percent through 2028.1
Now that we have your attention, let’s take a closer look at how a Healthcare Management degree can help you transition into the career you’ve been seeking.
Where do healthcare management professionals work?
Most healthcare managers find jobs in a hospital or outpatient setting.1 A smaller clinic or physician’s office setting may provide healthcare managers the opportunity to oversee many disciplines— from marketing to human resource or budgeting— while a large hospital may provide advancement opportunities to move into roles like CFO, CEO or CMO. Healthcare managers should note that advanced degrees and many years of experience are necessary for executive roles.
Healthcare managers can also work in nursing and residential care facilities which, in addition to the administrative and business responsibilities that come with running a healthcare facility, includes maintaining relationships with patients and families.
Some lend their expertise to insurance companies while others can work for the local, state or federal government—conducting research, addressing public health concerns or overseeing health education programs.
What should you expect from a Healthcare Management degree program?
Sometimes a degree looks great on paper, but you have no idea what to expect when it comes to coursework, program requirements and other important details. This information, however, can be helpful in your decision-making process.
We compiled this rundown to give you a fuller picture of what a Healthcare Management degree program entails so there are no surprises down the road.
Healthcare management courses
Every student is curious about the classes that will be required for their prospective degree. Here are a few of the courses you’ll encounter while working toward a Bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Management at Rasmussen University:
- Quality Improvement in Healthcare
- Foundations of Managed Care
- Healthcare Marketing
- Advanced Healthcare Law and Ethics
- International Healthcare
- Business Project Management
You can learn more about these and other Healthcare Management courses that will help you develop the skills employers are seeking by visiting the Rasmussen University course catalog. With coursework that incorporates hands-on experience and scenario-based simulations, you’ll be ready to lead a team of healthcare workers—giving them what they need to put their patients first.
How long does a Healthcare Management degree program take?
In addition to ensuring you’ll be facing a course schedule you can get excited about, you likely also want to know how long a degree program may take to complete. While it’s true that most healthcare management jobs require a Bachelor’s degree, you can rest assured that the days of needing four years to earn a Bachelor’s are long gone.
Depending on your prior academic achievement level, you could earn a Healthcare Management Bachelor’s degree in as few as 18 months.2 You’ll also find a variety of different formats when researching Healthcare Management programs. Whether you prefer to learn in the classroom, online or a blend of both, there’s a program out there that will fit with your busy life.
Healthcare management certification options
In most cases, additional certification isn’t required for healthcare management jobs unless you’re a nursing care facility administrator, according to the BLS.1 Even so, obtaining certification can show employers that you’re serious about your career and are willing to go the extra mile to bring excellent patient care to your facility.
Healthcare management professionals may want to consider earning additional certifications and credentials through the American College of Health Care Administrators, or the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management. Additionally, the Project Management Institute offers two options that may be a good fit for your career—the Certified Associate of Project Management (CAPM)® and Project Manage Professional (PMP)® certifications.
What should you expect in healthcare management jobs?
Healthcare management sounds like a fantastic job opportunity, but how can you be sure if it’s the best fit for you? Take a look at this overview of the top skills and jobs in healthcare management—it may help you determine if this is the right field for you.
In-demand healthcare management skills
Your ideal career will put all your inherent skills to good use. You might assume you need a lot of technical skills to succeed in the healthcare industry, but a talented healthcare administrator will have plenty of well-developed soft skills, too.
Not only will this career place you in charge of a team of healthcare workers, but you’ll also be working closely with physicians and representing your healthcare facility at meetings. This large range of responsibilities requires a unique blend of skills.
We used real-time job analysis software to examine more than 78,000 healthcare management job postings.3 This data helped us identify the exact skills employers are seeking in healthcare management candidates.
Top technical skills3:
- Business administration
- Staff management
- Basic patient care
Top transferable skills3:
- Problem solving
- Public speaking and communication
Common healthcare management job titles
Once you’ve mastered these in-demand skills, you’re undoubtedly curious about what kind of job prospects you can expect. This sampling of healthcare management jobs from the U.S. Department of Labor will give you a preview of what your future options could be:
- Clinical director
- Health and social services
- Medical records managers
- Office managers
- Practice administrator
The good news about launching a career in healthcare management is that you don’t have to remain in the same position forever. This field features a variety of potential routes for advancement. The BLS states healthcare management professionals can expand into higher paying roles with more responsibilities—for example overseeing a hospital’s entire health information system or working as an executive within the organization.1 It should be noted that for many of these senior level positions you may need a Master’s degree.
Is a Healthcare Management degree right for you?
You don’t have to be on the front lines of healthcare to work in an industry that saves lives on a daily basis. Earning a Healthcare Management degree is your first step toward working your way up the ranks of the administration of a healthcare facility. From there, you’ll be eligible for these types of advanced positions—but it’s up to you to make the most of the opportunities a Healthcare Management degree may offer you. With the accelerated Master’s pathway option, you’ll have the opportunity to complete up to six graduate-level courses while earning your Bachelor’s degree—allowing you to finish a Master of Healthcare Administration degree is as little as one additional year.
If you’re ready to acquire the knowledge and training needed to succeed in this field, learn more about how the path you’ll need to follow in our article, “Your 5-Step Guide on How to Become a Healthcare Manager.”
1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [career information accessed December, 2019] www.bls.gov/ooh/. Information represents national, averaged data for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries. Employment conditions in your area may vary.
2Time to completion is dependent on number of transfer credits accepted and number of courses completed each term.
3Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 11,599 healthcare management job postings, December 1, 2018 – November 30, 2019).
4Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, [accessed December, 2019] www.bls.gov/oes/.
5Time and cost savings are dependent on the eligible student completing both the Bachelor’s and Master’s degree at Rasmussen University through the Accelerated Master’s Pathway program. If a student is not eligible or chooses not to continue on to earn their Master’s degree, the cost for the Bachelor’s program is higher than for our standard Bachelor’s degree program. Savings vary based on the student completing courses on a full-time or part-time schedule.
CAPM and PMP are registered trademarks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in 2017. It has since been updated to include information relevant to 2020.