For many professionals, one of the biggest reasons to become a healthcare administrator is the opportunity to improve patient care and to help people.
As with any occupation however, one’s salary level is a very important factor in overall career satisfaction. In the field of healthcare administration, you have the opportunity to earn a very high salary; the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median salary across the profession for healthcare administrators is $94,500. The top 10% earn an impressive $165,380 per year. This high salary is for many reasons, but it usually has something to do with earning an advanced degree in the field.
Why Earn a Master’s in Healthcare Administration
Statistics show that the entry level salary level for administrators with a master’s degree is significantly higher than for those with only an undergraduate education. You also will find that the mid and end career salaries will be significantly higher for those with a master’s in healthcare administration.
This trend has been seen in recent research. Georgetown University conducted a survey in 2015 called the Economic Value of College Majors. The survey concluded that health care administration majors with a bachelor’s earned $55,000 per year on average, while those with a master’s degree earned at least $80,000 per year. There was no question about it: Healthcare administrators receive a substantial salary boost by going back to school for their master’s degree.
Also, as we noted earlier, the top 10% of workers in this profession earn a salary of $165,000 per year, according to BLS. Government statistics do not state it explicitly, but we can assume that the vast majority of top earners in BLS statistics hold a master’s degree or higher level degree.
There is no question that earning a master’s is one of the most important factors to earn more money in this field. Below is more information about this fact, as well as other factors that affect salary in healthcare administration.
BLS reports that approximately 50% of healthcare administrators have only a bachelor’s degree. However, as with most careers, earning a master’s degree will usually lead to better pay and more advanced career opportunities. This is definitely the case with a master’s in healthcare administration.
Payscale.com states that people with a bachelor’s degree in health services will earn approximately $58,547 per year. On the other hand, healthcare administrators with a master’s degree in health administration or health services can earn more than $80,000 per year, according to Payscale.com.
As with most careers, the more experienced you are, the higher your skills and salary. The assumption in the healthcare administration field is that a more experienced administrator will have more advanced skills.
Having a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration or health services can lead to an entry level salary as high as nearly $60,000 per year. With five years of experience, you may be able to earn up to $72,000, and after 10 years, you easily could be earning more than $90,000 per year.
The increase in salary with experience increases more when you have a master’s degree. Generally a healthcare administrator at entry level with a master’s can earn up to $75,000; this increases to $97,000 with five years of work experience, and more than $130,000 per year with 10 years of experience.
Where you work as a healthcare administration also will have a strong influence on your pay. Working in bigger cities usually means a higher salary, but the cost of living will also be higher. If you do your research, you will be able to find cities where the cost of living is lower and the salary for these professionals is still higher than average.
Some of the cities where healthcare administrator salaries tend to be higher than the national average are:
- Chicago – 47%
- San Antonio – 20%
- Seattle – 19%
- Orlando – 16%
- Washington DC – 16%
- Boston – 8%
- Denver – 7%
- Houston – 4%
Further, according to Monster.com, the following 10 states are best places to work in terms of healthcare administrator salary:
- New Jersey
- New York
- Rhode Island
Varying salaries in the healthcare administration field by location can be seen in Indeed.com salary statistics. The site reports that the average salary in this field is $63,960 per year. Drilling down into salaries that have been reported in specific cities in the US, we find the following:
- Washington DC – Department Health and Human Services: $120,391 per year
- Norwalk County CT – Norwalk Public Schools: $119,896 per year
- Rockville MD – Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: $109,705 per year
- King County WA – King County: $104,326 per year
- Big Rapids MI – Ferris State University: $83,487 per year
- Louisville KY – University of Kentucky: $52,383 per year
The widely varying salaries in these areas tells us that one can earn a much higher level of pay in some areas of the country than others. However, one should remember that the areas above with the highest salaries also have a high cost of living.
A license or certification is not required to be a healthcare administrator in most cases; however, if you are working in a nursing home, you do need to have a license to work in your state. Some states also require licensure for working as an administrator in an assisted living facility.
If you want to increase your salary and career potential however, you may consider certification as a healthcare administrator. Certification is available in many areas of healthcare administration practice.
For example, you can earn certification in these job areas, which can lead to a higher salary:
- Medical management – Professional Association of Health Care Office Management
- Health information management – American Health Information Management Association
- Nursing home and assisted living care – American College of Health Care Administrators
The healthcare administration field is growing very rapidly, with a 17% increase in job demand anticipated by 2024. This increase in demand is being caused by people living longer and more baby boomers entering their retirement years. As they age, more people need healthcare services, and these older Americans in particular are expecting more advanced healthcare services to keep them more active as they age.
As a potential healthcare administrator, you stand to benefit from this accelerating demand for healthcare services. You definitely will be able to do so if you keep the aforementioned four factors in mind to boost your salary, especially if you earn a master’s degree in healthcare administration. If you do so, you may expect excellent, long term career prospects with good compensation as a healthcare administrator.