How To Start A Career In Healthcare Management

Doctor Healthcare Team

Do you want to work in healthcare? If so, you’re not alone. One out of eight Americans work in the healthcare industry, making it America’s largest employer—and it isn’t hard to see why so many people flock to the industry. There are hundreds of careers to choose from, there is lots of potential for growth, and every job helps to save the lives of others.

But which career path within healthcare should you choose? One popular option is healthcare management. The role is diverse, fun, and challenging, but that isn’t all; it can also pay very well.

If you want to start a career in healthcare management, we are here to help. Here are five entry-level jobs that you can apply for to help start your healthcare management career.

Human Resources Manager

A human resources manager tends to focus on recruiting, interviewing, and hiring staff for a healthcare organization. This could be in a private clinic, a dentist’s office, a physician’s office, or a hospital.

Healthcare Administrator

Medical office administrators take charge of the daily duties at a healthcare practice, so this role will give you a lot of healthcare management experience. Some day-to-day duties include managing contracts, speaking to insurance companies, managing staff, managing social media, managing accounts, and answering phones. This work is also very well paid, with the average healthcare administrator making around $66,000 per year.

Medical Executive Assistant

Medical executive assistants normally work with C-suite administrators and executives, helping them to manage project proposals and grants. This role involves a lot of writing, so it is well suited to someone with great English skills, but that isn’t the only skill you’ll need; you’ll also need to have medical and technological skills.

Health Informatics Officer

A health informatics officer has a fairly specific role. It is their job to ensure that all patient medical records are kept secure (and it is also expected that the officer will look for new, more efficient ways to store the records). This is a very important role, as it is essential to make sure that personal information isn’t leaked to the public.

It is worth noting that this role has changed slightly in recent years due to technology. Now, most health informatics officers use EHRs (electronic health records) to store information, so the role is mostly computer based. This isn’t ideal for everyone, but if you like the idea of a healthcare admin role it could be perfect for you.

Social Service Manager

It is also possible to start a career in healthcare management by working as a social service manager. This role involves liaising with doctors, nurses, public servants, and social workers to help arrange healthcare programs in the area. Normally, these programs will focus on vulnerable members of society such as children, the elderly, and disabled people. Day-to-day work is very varied, which can make the role more exciting, and it is also very rewarding.

Other Options

The above five suggestions are some of the best ways to start a healthcare management career, but they aren’t the only options. There are lots of other healthcare entry-level jobs that you can apply for in order to start your career, including working as a nurse or a social worker.

It is even possible to take an entry-level position in a different industry, and then later move to healthcare management. Some of these industries include:

  • Finance
  • Governance
  • Information technology
  • Marketing

However, it is important to be aware that it can be difficult to make this transition without a qualification (such as a nursing degree, or a Master’s degree). For this reason we recommend getting a degree (and a Master’s degree) before starting your career in healthcare management.

Top-Level Healthcare Management Roles

So, we’ve covered some of the most popular entry-level healthcare management roles—but where can you expect your career to take you? Quite high, it seems; there are lots of top healthcare management roles that pay well over $100,000 a year.

Here are some of the top-level healthcare management jobs.

The Hospital Chief Executive Officer

A hospital chief executive officer (also known as the CEO) is responsible for the operation and management of an entire healthcare organization (such as a hospital or a surgery). This role is very fast-paced and intense, so it isn’t suited to everyone—but it does pay handsomely! You can expect to make around $166,000 when you first start, but this can increase as you gain experience.

Healthcare Consultant

Healthcare consultants use their knowledge of the healthcare industry to improve healthcare organizations across the US. They provide expertise to lots of different healthcare organizations, including hospitals, doctor’s surgeries, dentists, and assisted-living facilities. This means that they work in lots of different places, but the day-to-day tasks are generally the same. These tasks include training staff, identifying organizational issues, and organizing events. This role is fairly fast-paced and intense, but you will be paid well for your efforts; the average healthcare consultant makes around $200,000 a year, which is very impressive.

Director of Nursing

A nursing director is responsible for managing the nursing department within a hospital. The role involves managing nurses and nursing staff, looking after patient data, and interacting with patients and their families. This is one of the highest-paid nursing career options, with the average nursing director earning around $173,000 a year, and that isn’t all; there is also a lot of demand for this role. This is because nurses—especially experienced ones—are in short supply, so if you do work your way up to this level, it is very likely that you will be able to find work as a director of nursing.

Director of Assisted Living

A director of assisted living manages a medical facility that provides long-term care to senior patients. The role involves managing staff who provide personal care support, including nurses, social workers, cooks, interpreters, and assistants. The director of assisted living will also consult with patients to ensure they are receiving the best possible care, and they will also interact with family members and loved ones who visit the facility.

Healthcare Professor or Researcher

A healthcare professor or researcher will normally work in a university, helping to educate the next generation of healthcare professionals. To apply for this role you will need lots of experience of working in the healthcare industry (ideally with experience in a specific field), in order for you to be able to pass on your knowledge to your students. This role isn’t as fast-paced as the other top roles on this list, but it is still very fulfilling and rewarding.

However, it is important to note that you can’t apply for any of the above roles if you don’t have a relevant degree and Master’s qualifications.

Getting A Degree And A Master’s In Health Management

It is possible to start a career in healthcare with an entry-level job, but if you want to climb up the career ladder you will need a degree. It is possible to go back to school later in life to get these qualifications, but if you haven’t started your career yet it could be wise to study first.

This is because there are lots of advantages to getting a degree first; you will be able to apply for a wider range of entry-level jobs, and you are more likely to stand out against the competition. It also means you are less likely to take a long break from your career later; after all, a degree normally takes three years.

A Master’s is also required if you want to go for a top-level job (such as hospital CEO). This qualification normally takes just over two years, and it will hugely benefit your career (which could be why over 13% of Americans have a Master’s degree!)

You will need a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA), Healthcare Administration (MHA), Healthcare Management (MHM), or Medical Management (MMM). If you are not in a position to physically attend a college, another option is to study for an online masters in healthcare administration. You will also need experience in the healthcare field (such as one of the entry-level roles we mentioned above).

Working Your Way Up The Healthcare Management Career Ladder

If you want to get a top-paying job in health management, you will have to put the work in. Even with a degree and a Master’s, you will only be able to start with a mid-level job, but don’t be disheartened by this. Both entry-level and mid-level jobs in healthcare management are well paid compared to other industries, and there is a huge demand for new workers. So if you put the time and effort in, you will certainly be able to climb up the ladder—and who knows, you could end up earning over $100,000 a year as a hospital CEO.

It is also possible to speed up your career progression by undertaking fellowships, internships, and residencies as you work. This will show your employers that you are serious about your career choice, and it also means you will learn extra skills that put you ahead of the competition.

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Danuta Smoluk is a teacher with over three decades of experience teaching both children and adults. She specializes in teaching the Polish language to English-speakers. She has a master's degree in primary and early childhood education from WSP Słupsk (currently Pomeranian University in Słupsk) and had her degree validated by University of Toronto. Aside from education, she also has an interest in real estate and home improvement. She has planned and supervised many house renovations. She loves interior design, cooking, and gardening.

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