How to Climb the Healthcare Career Ladder – Take Big Steps
4 Min Read
Whether switching careers or looking to move up the ladder, healthcare management offers job security and upward mobility for those who want to be leaders in the field.
For those with healthcare management courses under their belts, the field provides many opportunities for growth and high earning potential. Here’s how you can start taking steps today towards a management or executive position.
Opportunities in Healthcare Management
Healthcare executives and administrators run a variety of organizations such as hospitals, hospital systems, nursing homes, residential care communities, hospices and health insurance companies.
They may be in charge of an entire facility, a department, or a group medical practice. These positions range from middle management to CEO, and more jobs open up every day, as the Affordable Healthcare Act leads to rapid changes and an explosion in jobs from healthcare providers.1
The outlook is optimistic for healthcare management professionals.1 Jobs in the field have a median salary of $92,810 and the overall number is expected to increase 17 percent by 2024, compared to 7 percent for all careers.
Advanced Education for Healthcare Management
As demand for healthcare management professionals continues to rise, so do the expectations for job candidates. Those with advanced healthcare management degrees are increasingly attractive to hiring managers. Popular education specialties among healthcare management professionals include health administration, health management, public health administration, business administration and nursing.2
There are an estimated 100,000 top-level healthcare executives across the country, from department heads to CEO. With 2,000 freshly minted healthcare management graduate degrees each year, according to the American College of Healthcare Executives, the competition for these positions is fierce.3
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In addition to having all of the technical, communication and leadership skills required, an MBA degree can make you stand out as a top candidate. Taking online healthcare management courses and earning a specialized master’s degree equips you with needed management and business administration skills to not only land the job, but also succeed in this field.
Graduate programs generally take about two years to complete and sometimes will include an additional year of training. MBA programs in healthcare management typically include courses in organizational leadership, ethical and legal decision making, finance, law and policy.
Healthcare Management Certifications
Licenses and certifications typically add further breadth and depth to an advanced degree. They aren’t mandatory for most healthcare administration positions, but they show a desire to continue education and learning.
There are several different types of certifications available in specific areas of practice.2 These organizations offer certification in the following areas:
- The Professional Association of Health Care Office Management (medical management)
- American Health Information Management (health information management)
- American College of Healthcare Administrators (nursing home and assisted living)
- Project Management Institute (project management)
Nursing homes do require specific certifications, which varies by state. Achieving a specialized certification can validate your area of expertise and lend to your credibility in your field. Search for the appropriate certification that would benefit your career the most.
Networking and Professional Memberships
As with any other competitive industry, networking is important and eases the path to management-level positions.
Start connecting with other healthcare colleagues and students. Join professional organizations in healthcare management to learn more and keep up-to-date with what others are doing in your field. Each of the following healthcare professional organizations offers valuable resources:
- American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management
- American College of Health Care Administrators
- American College of Healthcare Executives
- American Hospital Association
- Association for Healthcare Administrative Professionals
- Association of University Programs in Health Administration
- Health Care Administrators Association
- Institute for Diversity in Health Management
- Institute for Healthcare Improvement
- National Association of Health Services Executives
- National Association of Latino Healthcare Executives
Select the professional organization that offers the education, networking and resources that fulfill your needs. Be sure to participate in their networking events to get to know others who may be able to help you on your way to the next step in your career.
Keep Climbing the Health Management Ladder
Keep climbing the ladder – you don’t even have to watch your step.
Healthcare is rapidly changing and you need to stay ahead of the curve with the right skills and education. Take advantage of career development opportunities and attend seminars and workshops on specific healthcare topics that interest you. Read up to enhance your knowledge with trade publications aimed at healthcare executives.
If you have a passion for making, patients, staff and institutions better, a healthcare management career may be the perfect fit for you. Furthering your education with a MBA in healthcare management can only fuel that passion.
If you’d like to download our comprehensive free career guide in healthcare management, click here.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Medical and Health Service Managers http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Medical and Health Service Managers http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm#tab-4.
- American College of Healthcare Executives https://www.ache.org/carsvcs/ycareer.cfm.