Behind every great hospital or medical practice are health care managers who keep things running. Health care managers are responsible for overseeing areas such as quality of care and budgeting. Because hospitals and doctors' practices have a high profile, health-care administration offers daily opportunities to make a difference in your community. Managers also benefit from a variety of career choices, above-average pay and a strong hiring outlook.
Health-care management is a career that lets you make a difference in people’s lives. It’s your job to make sure doctors and nurses give quality care, and to manage the budget so that a hospital or practice can serve as many people as possible. By staying on top of the latest technologies and advances, you can bring cutting-edge care to your community. If you see beds filling up or patients waiting for services, you can bring on more staffers, equipment or services to help. Health care managers are more important than ever for hospitals, nursing homes and hospices, which need to keep costs down and still meet industry standards for care. Striking that balance can bring emotional rewards.
Career paths in health-care management are practically unlimited. You can choose a certain sub-field, such as finance, human resources, patient care, information systems or supply chain management, or aim for a top job as a CEO, overseeing the big picture. You have a lot of workplaces to choose from, too: Health care managers work for hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, nursing homes, universities, federal agencies, insurers and private medical practices. To take advantage of as many career paths as possible, consider your educational level. A bachelor’s degree in health-care administration qualifies you for entry-level work, including marketing assistant or accounts-receivable supervisor. You’ll need a master’s for mid-level jobs such as department manager, marketing director or contract negotiator, and a doctoral degree or professional certificate to run a big hospital or clinic.
Health-care management offers higher wages than most other fields. The median annual income among managers was $88,580 as of May 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s almost three times more than the median of $34,756 for all U.S. occupations. At $53,940, even the bottom 10 percent of earners in health-care administration made more than most Americans. Thanks partly to experience and high position, the top 10 percent took home $150,560. Some sectors offer above-average pay for the field. Pharmaceuticals makers paid a mean annual wage of $142,210, while drug wholesalers paid $136,690. Where you live could affect your income, too. New York has the highest mean annual wage for health care managers, at $114,550. Other states that cleared the $110,000 mark included California, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Jersey.
As a health care manager, you’ll enjoy job security. The BLS expects the number of jobs in health care and medical management to jump 22 percent from 2010 to 2020. That’s well above the 14 percent growth average for all U.S. occupations. For those opportunities, you can credit baby boomers, who’ll live longer than previous generations, and expect a great quality of life along the way. They’ll need private doctor practices, hospitals and outpatient clinics to keep them healthy. You can also expect a surge in the number of nursing homes. The most growth should happen inside doctors’ offices, as hospitals shift treatments to outpatient clinics, and as private practices grow and become more complex.