Healthcare Management Guide
Healthcare management careers offer a path into one of the nation’s fastest-growing job fields.
According to U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projections, healthcare and social services will become the nation’s largest major employment sector by 2026.
However, The Atlantic reports that healthcare surpassed retail in 2017 and is now the United States’ largest employer.
If your interests tend more toward computer-based administrative tasks than patient-facing clinical work, healthcare management jobs could be a good option for you. But what exactly is healthcare management? What healthcare management jobs are available? What level of education is required?
This guide delves into some of the most commonly asked questions and provides detailed answers to help you get started on your healthcare management career path.
What Is Healthcare Management?
Given the depth and breadth of this career field—with its many different job functions and diverse range of job titles—it can be difficult to pinpoint a single, all-encompassing healthcare management definition. The answer will vary depending on whom you ask, so let’s take a look at how a few different sources define it.
List of Healthcare Management Definitions:
- “Healthcare management is the profession that provides leadership and direction to organizations that deliver personal health services, and to divisions, departments, units, or services within those organizations.”
Career Opportunities in Health Care Management: Perspectives from the Field(1)
- “The term healthcare management (or healthcare administration) is defined as supervising the functions of a healthcare organization. Healthcare managers’ tasks include providing leadership, management, and direction to healthcare units … in order to ensure the best delivery of the available healthcare services.”
Handbook of Research on Geographic Information Systems Applications and Advancements(2)
- “Healthcare Management … refers to the management of hospitals, hospital networks, and/or health care systems, at the different levels of organization and planning of clinical activities and support processes. Also referred to as medical and/or health services or health administration, health management ensures that the outcomes are attained, that different areas within a health organization are running appropriately, that jobs are correctly defined and assessed, and that resources are used efficiently.”
Handbook of Research on Trends in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Chronic Conditions(3)
Healthcare Management vs. Healthcare Administration
Though some people use the terms healthcare management and healthcare administration interchangeably (as in the last two definitions above), we’ll be differentiating between the two in this career guide.
For our purposes, “healthcare management” includes everything from overseeing business functions (such as billing or medical records) to supervising staff (whether office teams or clinical practitioners). We’ll use “healthcare administration” when referring to senior- and executive-level roles that involve managing people or entire organizations.
Since many healthcare managers get their start working in various business areas before advancing into supervisory positions, this guide will provide a broad overview of all types of healthcare management careers—from entry-level clerical roles to managers and directors.
What Are Healthcare Management Jobs?
As you might have guessed from the healthcare management definitions above, healthcare management careers can run the gamut from managing a medical office, to overseeing billing and insurance, to supervising employees, to directing the budget and staff of an entire healthcare system.
Below, we’ll provide an overview of some healthcare management career options, including functional areas, job titles, typical duties, sample job descriptions, and other information.
What Are Entry-Level Healthcare Management Jobs?
The term “entry-level healthcare management jobs” may seem strange, since “entry-level” implies minimal experience necessary while “management” positions generally require a level of expertise acquired on the job.
However, job seekers can embark on a healthcare management career path with relevant training and an entry-level position in one of the functional areas that falls within the broader healthcare management field.
For example, you might start off in an administrative, clerical, or analytical job in a medical office, and subsequently leverage that work experience to land a healthcare management position. You can get an idea of the types of careers available by going to any employment or career site, such as Indeed.com, and searching for “entry-level healthcare management.”
What Are Healthcare Management Job Titles?
There are hundreds of different jobs that contribute to healthcare management, from medical billers who work with insurance companies to obtain reimbursement for services, to health information technicians who maintain medical records and systems, to medical office managers who oversee administrative functions, to staff directors who hire and schedule employees.
To give you an idea of the wide range of healthcare management career options, the chart below provides examples of functional job areas and corresponding job titles (compiled from Indeed, O*NET OnLine, and other career sites). These are not intended to be exhaustive lists, but rather to give a general overview of the types of jobs that can get you started on a healthcare management career path.
Sample List of Healthcare Management Careers
|List of Healthcare Management Jobs||List of Healthcare Management Job Titles|
|Medical Office Administrative Staff||Medical Administrative Assistant|
Administrative Support Specialist
Front Desk Supervisor
Medical Office Manager
Medical Office Director
|Medical Billing and Coding||Medical Coder|
Medical Biller and Coder
Medical Records Analyst
Claims Processing Specialist
Medical Billing Supervisor
|Medical Office Accounting and Finance||Accounts Payable Clerk|
Accounts Receivable Specialist
Medical Economics Analyst
|Health Information Management||Health Information Technician|
Medical Records Analyst
Clinical Documentation Specialist
Document Imaging Technician
Healthcare Technology Support Specialist
Health Information Manager
Director of Medical Records
|Healthcare Law and Compliance||Regulatory Compliance Coordinator|
Risk Assurance Associate
Regulatory Finance Reporting Manager
Regulatory Compliance Manager
|Customer Care||Patient Coordinator|
Customer Care Representative
Healthcare Call Center Representative
Healthcare Customer Service Associate
Patient Experience Manager
Director of Healthcare Customer Service
|Human Resources||Human Resources Coordinator|
Compensation and Benefits Analyst
Talent Management Consultant
Healthcare HR Manager
Human Resources Director
|Healthcare Administration||Practice Administrator|
Physician Relations Director
Nursing Home Administrator
Chief of Healthcare Operations
Executive Director of Healthcare System
What Does a Healthcare Manager Do Day-to-Day?
A healthcare manager’s day-to-day responsibilities and routine tends to vary widely depending on the exact role. For example, someone working as a medical billing supervisor, accounting manager, health information manager, or compliance analyst may spend a majority of time reviewing documentation and working on the computer.
On the other hand, a front desk supervisor, HR manager, or patient experience manager is likely to have more ongoing interactions with staff and/or patients.
Administrators typically have a number of employees or managers working under them, and may frequently spend time in meetings to stay current on what’s happening with the people or departments that report to them.
What Are Healthcare Management Job Duties?
While a healthcare manager’s tasks will vary by function, the following list provides some examples of healthcare management job duties as outlined in actual job descriptions:
- Manage department workflow.
- Design, update, and implement policies and procedures.
- Coordinate staff schedules, manage time-off requests, and ensure coverage.
- Monitor employee performance, provide appropriate training and professional development, and resolve workplace conflicts.
- Maintain positive patient relations and ensure employees are treating patients in a courteous, compassionate, and professional manner.
- Coordinate authorization and/or delivery of patient care services.
- Order and monitor inventory of office supplies, vaccines, sample collection tools, and other medical supplies.
- Ensure medical equipment is routinely inspected and properly maintained.
- Oversee efficient revenue cycle operations.
- Confirm that insurance claims are properly coded and processed, resubmit claims as required, and ensure collection of any outstanding balances.
- Forecast expenses and create/manage budgets.
- Prepare statistical reports.
- Ensure regulatory compliance and patient confidentiality.
- Provide direction and guidance to teams, and communicate organizational objectives.
- Propose, plan, and direct facility expansion and enhancement projects.
Bear in mind that the duties listed above came from multiple job postings spanning different types of healthcare management roles. Most healthcare managers are likely to be responsible for a few of these tasks, but wouldn’t necessarily be expected to perform all of them.
What Does a Healthcare Manager/Management Job Description Look Like?
To get an idea of your healthcare management career options and related work responsibilities, try doing a search on Google or any of the various job-search sites.
You can do a broad search for “healthcare management jobs” or narrow your search to focus on a specific job title (such as “medical office manager”) or job function (such as “health information management”).
Based on the job titles and preview text for each employment listing, you can click to view the full job description for any positions that interest you.
Most healthcare management job descriptions will list the position’s duties and responsibilities as well as the required qualifications in terms of education, skills, and experience. Some may also include the salary range and/or benefits. Here, you can see a few examples of healthcare manager job descriptions.
What Is the Job Outlook, Work Environment, and Salary for Healthcare Management Careers?
According to the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook, the healthcare industry will add more than 72,000 new job openings for medical and health services managers between 2016 and 2026. That represents 20% employment growth, which the BLS indicates is much faster than the average for all occupations.
Another BLS publication—Women in the Labor Force: A Databook—suggests that healthcare management careers offer opportunities for women.
The November 2017 BLS report (Table 11) indicates that while women account for just 39.1% of all management occupations, 72.3% of medical and health services managers are women.
Where Can a Healthcare Manager Work?
Healthcare managers work in a variety of settings, from hospitals, doctors’ offices, nursing homes, and home health organizations to medical and diagnostic laboratories, health insurance companies, and government agencies. Most work in an office environment, though some may oversee clinical staff.
BLS data reveals that hospitals are the largest employer of healthcare managers; over one-third (36%) of medical and health services managers work in hospitals. Other leading employers include physicians’ offices (11%), nursing and residential care facilities (10%), government (8%), and outpatient care centers (7%).
What Is a Healthcare Management Career Salary?
For anyone researching healthcare management career options, some of the most commonly asked questions relate to earning potential include:
- What is the starting salary for healthcare management?
- How much do you make with a degree in healthcare management?
- What are the high and low ranges of healthcare manager salaries?
The truth is that salaries can vary significantly depending on the manager’s job function, experience, and education, as well as other factors such as geographic location and employment setting. It’s also important to remember that a new graduate with a diploma, associate degree, or bachelor’s degree will typically start out in entry-level or administrative roles before advancing into management.
To set realistic salary expectations, you may first want to look at salaries for the types of administrative and clerical roles that often serve as the starting point for a healthcare management career path. Here are a few examples from the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook, which lists the median salary for each occupation as of May 2017:
|Healthcare Management Job Category||Median Salary|
|Medical Secretaries and Administrative Assistants||$34,610|
|Healthcare and Social Assistance Accounting Clerks||$38,430|
|Medical Records and Health Information Technicians||$39,180|
Different employment sites list a range of healthcare management salaries. As of January 1, 2019, PayScale listed the average entry-level healthcare manager salary as $51,759; Glassdoor listed the average healthcare management base pay as $77,104; and Indeed indicated healthcare manager salaries average $85,490.
The BLS states that medical and health services managers earned a median salary of $98,350 per year or $47.29 per hour as of May 2017. The lowest 10% of managers earned less than $58,350 annually, while the top 10% earned in excess of $176,130.
Keep in mind that the higher end of the salary range is likely to reflect healthcare administration roles that require years of experience and/or an advanced degree, while functional managers (such as medical office managers, billing supervisors, or medical records directors) may fall toward the lower to middle end of the scale.
What Degree Is Needed for Healthcare Management Jobs?
As with any type of management position, healthcare managers require relevant training and experience. Some professionals may be able to advance from entry-level jobs into management with a healthcare diploma and sufficient experience, even if they don’t have a degree.
For example, it’s possible to earn a medical billing and coding diploma or a health information technician certificate in under a year, and eventually advance into a billing supervisor or medical records manager role over time.
However, many employers require or strongly prefer candidates to have a degree in healthcare management. Some may even require a graduate degree in a related field.
What Is a Degree in Healthcare Management?
Bachelor’s degrees tend to be the most common among healthcare managers, though an associate degree could be sufficient for functional managers and mid-level management positions, depending on the employer. At the other end of the spectrum, healthcare administration executives may be expected to hold a graduate degree.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor site O*NET OnLine, 19% of medical and health services managers hold an associate degree, 65% have a bachelor’s degree, and 12% have a master’s degree.
Healthcare management degrees typically include both healthcare-related and business coursework as well as general education classes.
What Is an Associate Degree in Healthcare Management?
The fastest route to a healthcare management degree is an associate degree. Depending on the student’s course load and the pace of the individual student, an associate degree in healthcare management can usually be completed in less than two years.
Given the technical nature of the subject matter, this type of program often leads to an Associate of Science (AS) or Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree; however, some colleges may grant an associate of arts (AA) degree.
A healthcare management major will usually study courses like:
- Medical terminology
- Healthcare computer information systems
- Medical practice management systems
- The healthcare claim cycle
- Healthcare accounting systems
- Healthcare law and compliance
- Business office operations
- Human resources
General education courses may include English composition, math, biology, sociology, etc.
What Is a BS in Healthcare Management?
A bachelor’s degree is commonly referred to as a four-year degree, as it generally requires four years of full-time study for completion.
While some students enroll directly in a full-time, four-year program, others may opt to earn an associate degree in healthcare management, obtain an entry-level job, transfer their academic credits toward an evening or online bachelor’s program, and finish their degree while working part-time or full-time.
Students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in this field will usually earn a Bachelor of Science (BS) in healthcare administration or a BS in healthcare management, though some programs may award a Bachelor of Arts (BA).
Healthcare management majors in four-year programs often take many of the same core courses as students in associate degree programs, though they may be required to complete additional business classes such as statistics, economics, and financial reporting.
They normally take additional general education courses, as well, such as history, geography, communication, and/or humanities.
What Can You Do With a Degree in Healthcare Management?
Some job seekers may pursue an associate degree in a specific functional area—such as medical billing and coding or health information technology—and work their way into a supervisory position within that department.
However, others prefer the broader range of business classes covered in a bachelor’s degree program, which allows for multiple routes to a healthcare management career.
For example, graduates who earn a degree in healthcare management may start off working in accounting, bookkeeping, billing, medical records management, human resources, compliance, or other business areas. With experience, they may be promoted into a functional manager role.
In addition, those who have a broad-based background in business and healthcare management may also be eligible for more senior-level positions that oversee multiple departments.
What Kind of Jobs Can You Get With a Degree in Healthcare Management?
Job candidates will typically need both healthcare education and relevant work experience to land a position as a healthcare manager. However, a number of related business disciplines fall under the broader umbrella of healthcare management, as noted in previous answers. Aspiring managers may get their start in any one of these business areas, and then leverage their experience to earn a management role.
For specific work functions and job titles, refer to the sample list of healthcare management careers above. You can also do a search on Google or various employment sites for a more comprehensive list of healthcare management job titles.
Each job description will usually include the minimum education level and required work experience to be considered for the job.
Is It Possible to Earn a Healthcare Management Degree Online?
While clinical jobs generally require hands-on training with medical tools and equipment, a majority of administrative, clerical, and management positions involve computer-based work. As such, online education can be a natural fit for these types of occupations.
Online healthcare management programs are also a popular option for students who plan to work full- or part-time while earning their degree, as they can complete coursework on their own schedule. In addition, the ability to earn a healthcare management degree online allows students to choose their educational institution based on the quality of the academic program rather than the location of the school.
What Is a Healthcare Management Career Path?
In summary, there are a number of different education options for students who wish to pursue a healthcare management career path.
Though most healthcare manager jobs are likely to require some type of degree and/or equivalent work experience, students can choose whether they want to earn their healthcare management degree online or on campus, and whether they wish to pursue an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree.
If you’d like to explore your options for entry-level administrative/clerical roles in healthcare, you can find additional education and career articles on the UMA blog.
Sources for List of Healthcare Management Definitions:
- Buchbinder, Sharon B., and Jon M. Thompson. Career Opportunities in Health Care Management: Perspectives from the Field. Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2010.
- Sifaki-Pistolla, Dimitra I., et al. “Geospatial and Spatio-Temporal Analysis in Health Research: GIS in Health.” Handbook of Research on Geographic Information Systems Applications and Advancements, by Sami Faiz and Khaoula Mahmoudi, IGI Global, 2017, pp. 466–487.
- Monguet, Josep M., et al. “Assessment of Chronic Health Care through an Internet Consensus Tool.” Handbook of Research on Trends in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Chronic Conditions, by Dimitrios I. Fotiadis, IGI Global, 2016, pp. 424–443.