How Can I Become a Long Term Care Administrator?
Research what it takes to become a long term care administrator. Learn about education requirements, licensure, certification and career advancement to find out if this is the career for you.
What Is a Long Term Care Administrator?
A long term care (LTC) administrator is a health services manager who directs operations in facilities such as nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities or assisted living facilities. They are responsible for overseeing staff, managing finances, ensuring security and seeing that residents receive proper nursing care. They also coordinate services like meals, social events, recreational activities and medication distribution, depending on the needs of the facility's residents.
Take a look at the following chart for an overview of how to enter this field.
|Degree Required||Bachelor's degree, master's for career advancement|
|Education Field of Study||Health care administration, public administration, business administration|
|Key Responsibilities||Hire, delegate and evaluate personnel performance; negotiate contracts and other agreements with suppliers and physicians; budget and interpret financial information|
|Licensure/Certificatiom||Licensure is required and must be maintained through continuing education credits; certification is voluntary|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)||18% (for all medical and health services managers)*|
|Median Salary (November 2019)||$76,776 (for long term care administrators)**|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com
What Education Will I Need to Become a Long Term Care Administrator?
As a long term care (LTC) administrator, you will likely be responsible for supervising your facility's general operations, developing and managing budgets, allocating finances, negotiating contracts with physicians and others as well as hiring and managing personnel. You'll be doing all this while providing quality care for your patients. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), it is possible to start your career with a bachelor's degree in health care administration, public administration or business administration. You might begin work as a department head at a smaller facility or as an assistant to a department head with a larger organization (www.bls.gov).
If you want to advance in your career, you will typically need a master's degree from an accredited institution approved by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME). The organization's Web site offers information about accredited health care management education programs throughout the United States (www.cahme.org).
As part of your graduate education, the BLS reports that you will need to study business, finance, health care facility management, law, accounting, statistics and health information systems. A one-year supervised internship can give you hands-on experience in your field.
You will need to have excellent managerial, communication and motivational skills, as you will be expected to hire, delegate and evaluate personnel performance as well as negotiate contracts and other agreements with suppliers and physicians. An understanding of finances and analytical skills is also necessary to help you budget and interpret financial information, according to O*NET OnLine (www.onetonline.org).
How Can I Become Licensed or Certified?
According to the BLS, licensing of long term care administrators is required in all states plus the District of Columbia; some states may also require licensing of assisted-living administrators. The minimum licensing requirements include a bachelor's degree as well as state-approved training, and passing a licensing exam. You will need to earn continuing education credits to maintain your license. The National Association of Long Term Care Administrative Boards (NAB) administers the licensing examinations (www.nabweb.org).
While it is not required for employment, certification is available through organizations such as the American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA). The group offers the Certified Assisted Living Administrator (CALA) designation (www.achca.org).
How Can I Advance in This Career?
Moving ahead in your career requires planning, experience and continuing education. As a new graduate with a master's degree, you may start with a smaller organization but eventually find that there may be more opportunities for advancement in a larger facility.
You may decide someday that you would like to become a consultant, assisting LTC facilities with specialized concerns or teaching health care management at a university, adds the BLS. Joining one or more of the above professional groups may also help increase both your credentials and business contacts as well as provide professional networking opportunities.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
If you're interested in a medical facility management job, you could find work as an administrator in a different setting, such as the office of a family physician or a specific department within a large hospital. You could also get a job as a community service manager, where you would oversee an organization that offers social services to individuals and families. These executive positions require at least a bachelor's degree. Alternatively, if you would rather work directly with patients in a long term care facility, you could think about pursuing a career as a nursing assistant, which involves helping patients with daily activities. For this job, you would need to complete a postsecondary program and pass a certification exam.