Health Care Managers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Prepare for a career in health management by taking college preparatory classes. Communication skills are important, so be sure to take as many speech and writing classes as possible. Courses in health, business, mathematics, and computer science are also excellent choices.

Postsecondary Training

The training required to qualify for this work depends, to a large extent, on the qualifications established by the individual employer or a facility's governing board. Most prefer people with a graduate degree in health services administration. A few require that their chief executives be physicians, while others look for people with formal training in law or general business administration as well as experience in the health care field. The future health care administrator may have a liberal arts foundation with a strong background in the social sciences or business economics.

Specialized training in health services administration is offered at both graduate and undergraduate levels. The graduate program generally takes two years to complete. Graduate students split their time between studying in the classroom and working as an administrative resident in a program-approved health care facility. Successful completion of the course work, the residency, and perhaps a thesis is required to earn the master's degree. An optional third-year fellowship provides additional work experience supervised by a mentor. During this period, the individual may work in various hospital departments as an assistant to department heads.

There are numerous bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in health service administration and health care administration. A listing of these programs can be found at the Association of University Programs in Healthcare Administration's Web site, https://network.aupha.org/members/findaprogram.  

Other Education or Training

The completion of continuing education (CE) credits is required to become certified and renew one's certification. Taking these classes and webinars is also a good way to keep improving your skills and stay up to date on industry trends. Many professional associations—including the American College of Healthcare Executives—provide CE opportunities.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

The American College of Healthcare Executives offers the fellow designation to candidates who have a master's degree (or other post-baccalaureate degree), pass an examination, and meet other requirements. Here are a few other major associations that provide certification:

  • American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management (certified revenue cycle executive, certified revenue cycle professional, certified revenue integrity professional, certified revenue cycle specialist)
  • American Health Information Management Association (registered health information administrator)
  • American Hospital Association (certified healthcare facility manager)
  • American Organization for Nurse Leadership (certified in executive nursing practice, certified nurse manager and leader)
  • Healthcare Financial Management Association (fellow of the Healthcare Financial Management Association)
  • Medical Group Management Association (certified medical practice executive)
  • Professional Association of Health Care Office Management (certified medical manager, health information technology certified manager for physician practice)

Licensure is not a requirement for health care services executives employed in hospitals. However, all states require nursing home administrators to be licensed. Most states use the licensing exam prepared by the National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards. Because requirements vary from state to state, those considering careers in nursing home administration should contact their state's licensing body for specific licensure requirements. Also, it should be noted that continuing education is now a condition of licensure in most states.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Several years' experience in health care support or assistant manager positions are required for top managerial jobs. 

Much of the work of health services managers consists of dealing with people—the hospital's governing board, the medical staff, the department heads and other employees, the patients and their families, and community leaders and businesses. Therefore, health care managers must be tactful and sympathetic.

In addition, administrators must be able to coordinate the health care facility's many related functions. They need to understand, for instance, financial operations, purchasing, organizational development, and public relations. They must also have the ability to make some decisions with speed and others with considerable study. And, of course, health services executives should have a deep interest in the care of sick and injured patients. Other important traits include leadersdhip ability, a detail-oriented and analytical personality, and an interest in learning throughout one's career.