Becoming a Healthcare Manager: Education, Certification & Licensing

Healthcare facilities are a business, and like every business, they require a manager to keep everything running efficiently. Read on to learn about the education, certification and licensing of a healthcare manager and see if it could be the right fit for you. Schools offering Clinical Research Administration degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career at a Glance

Healthcare managers work in a variety of healthcare settings; they may manage an entire hospital, a specific department, a consulting firm, a physician's office, clinic or mental health facility. They work in complex and ever-changing environments that require knowledge about the law, regulations and the latest technology in the field. The table below provides an overview of the requirements, salary and job outlook for a career as a healthcare manager.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree required, master's degree sometimes preferred
Education Field of Study Nursing
Healthcare administration/management
Public health
Business management
Certification and Licensure Licensure required for nursing home managers, registered nurses or social worker. Some states require license for assisted living managers. Certification is voluntary
Key Responsibilities Oversee staff, monitor budgets, recruit staff, train staff, improve care delivery, develop goals and objectives for departments, ensure compliance with law, policies and regulations
Median Salary (2017) $98,350 (medical and health service managers)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 20% (medical and health service managers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Do Healthcare Managers Do?

Healthcare managers, also known as healthcare administrators, connect clinical, administrative and operational functions in order to keep things running smoothly. Their job duties will depend on the work environment. There are a variety of healthcare management careers but generally hospital administrators may be in charge of a department or facility to ensure it runs efficiently and according to current regulations. Health information managers maintain the security of patients' data. Pharmaceutical project managers plan methods of promoting pharmaceutical products. Practice managers head the operation of a physician's office and medical practices. A hospital chief executive officer manages the hospital budget, heads operations, oversees hospital administrators and negotiates contracts.

How Do I Become a Healthcare Manager?

Healthcare managers require a bachelor's degree in nursing, health administration, health management, business management or any related field. These programs will give you the tools to combine business and management skills with clinical knowledge. Typically, most employers will expect that you have some years of experience in the field before applying for a management position. Obtaining a master's degree can also help prepare you for a managerial position at a healthcare facility as sometimes it can be a requirement by some employers.

What Certification and Licensure Is Required to Be a Healthcare Manager?

The licensure requirement for healthcare managers depends on the place of work and the position of the applicant. A nurse or social worker will need to have a license to become a healthcare manager. Nursing home managers are also required to have a license, and some states require assisted living managers to obtain a license. Certification is voluntary for healthcare managers and can be obtained from various professional bodies such as the Professional Association of Health Care Management, American Health Information Management Association or the American College of Health Care Administrators.

What Skills and Attributes Do You Need to Be a Healthcare Manager?

A healthcare manager is expected to have good leadership, interpersonal and problem-solving abilities as they often have to resolve problems, create a positive work environment, keep staff motivated and train and oversee staff. You will need to be analytical and detail-orientated to become a healthcare manager, as you will have to identify issues before they turn into bigger problems, and ensure that staff members follow all current hospital policies, laws and regulations. You must possess good verbal and written communication skills in order to pass on policies and procedures to staff members effectively.

What Is the Salary and Career Outlook for Healthcare Managers?

According to the BLS in 2017, medical and health service managers could expect a median annual salary of $98,350. Hospitals were among the top-paying industries in the field, while nursing homes were on the somewhat lower end. The BLS also reported that in 2017 the top-earning 10% earned over $176,130 a year while the lowest-paid 10% earned less than $58,350. As a healthcare manager you would be expected to work full-time including evenings and weekends in facilities that operate at all hours such as hospitals and nursing homes. The field of healthcare management is one of the fastest growing occupations in the U.S., with a projected growth rate of 20% between 2016 and 2026. This is much faster than the national average growth of all occupations at 7%.

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