Steps to Earning Your Health Administration Degree

Are you interested in earning a health administration degree? Learn the best steps to take to complete a course.

Healthcare administration is typically overseeing healthcare services at a particular facility. For example, the head of a nursing home is a healthcare administrator. The healthcare administrator of a facility is also often called a facility manager or health manager. It is the job of a healthcare administrator to oversee facility operations from start to finish. Performing such a job requires many skill sets. Therefore, it may come as no surprise that a person holding such a position needs a lot of training.

If you already have a background in healthcare, obtaining a health administration degree can open a lot of doors for you in terms of your long-term career path. It is important to explore the benefits of a health administration degree, as well as the process for obtaining one. Understanding exactly what health administrators do and how the educational process works can help you decide if it is the right educational and career path for you.

What a Healthcare Administrator Does

If you choose a career in healthcare administration, you must wear many hats, so to speak. Your responsibilities may include creating new workplace rules and systems of operations. It is also your job to make sure all current laws are followed in the workplace you oversee. Additionally, you must constantly balance the budget while ensuring quality medical and educational services are provided. In some cases, you may also need to coordinate enrichment services for long-term care residents. However, your exact duties will depend on the position for which you are hired. Some possible positions include:

  • Dental Office Manager

  • Hospital CEO

  • Clinic Manager

  • Testing Facility/Lab Manager

  • Nursing Home Manager

  • Insurance Company Analyst or Negotiator

  • Government Policy Lobbyist 

What a Healthcare Administrator Does Not Normally Do

Before attempting to obtain a health administration degree, you must understand that health administration is not the same as nursing. As a healthcare administrator, you are not typically going to deal directly with patients on a regular basis. However, your role is required to keep a facility running properly and ensure proper patient care. Therefore, your contributions to patient services and final outcomes for patients are often more indirect. Yet, they are no less essential than the contributions of nurses or doctors.

Two Types of Health Administration Bachelor's Degree

If you do want a degree in health administration, you have two options. The first is a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree. The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) is the second. Entering a program to obtain a B.S. In health administration allows you to learn the most technical skills. Often, such a degree leads to a career in medical records or health IT. Earning a B.A. In health administration prepares you more for a career in public health, health policy creation, or other areas with a focus on management and critical thinking. 

Health Administration Undergraduate and Graduate Degree Prerequisites

You are not limited to a B.A. or B.S. In health administration. You can also opt to continue your education as far as obtaining a doctorate. The prerequisites for the various undergraduate and graduate degrees in health administration vary widely between states and schools. However, there are some general guidelines.

To initially qualify for a B.A. or B.S. program you must complete high school. Most programs require you to have a GPA of at least 2.5 to qualify for admittance. You must also provide high school transcripts, recommendation letters, and score well on SAT or ACT tests. For higher level health administration courses, you may need to complete certain classes as prerequisites, such as: 

  • Microeconomics

  • Macroeconomics

  • Financial Management

  • Healthcare Organization

  • Health Services Laws

  • Health Services Ethics

Although most schools offering graduate degrees provide those prerequisite classes for undergraduates, the names of the courses vary between schools. Check the school you plan to attend to see which classes are prerequisites for the degree you want.

Places to Obtain Health Administration Degrees

Schools all over the United States off health administration degrees. However, some schools are considered to have the best programs of study for the field. Always look for a course at an accredited college. Also, make sure the college you select offers the level or levels of degree you need. Certain colleges are known for their undergraduate programs. Others specialize in graduate degrees. Some of the top colleges for health administration to consider include:

How Long it Takes to Get a Health Administration Degree

The length of time it takes for you to get a health administration degree depends on several factors, including the school you choose, type of degree you want, and how the program is administered. For example, a typical on-campus B.A. program takes up to 36 weeks. However, an equivalent program completed online often takes less time. If you then choose to take your education to the next level, prepare for an even longer time commitment. Master's degree programs vary widely in scope, specialization, and length. Expect to spend an additional one to four years obtaining a Master's degree, once you have a B.A. or B.S. in health administration in hand.