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Guide to Healthcare Administration Careers: Outlook and Salary

Healthcare is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States, with demand for qualified professionals driven, in part, by the aging of the nation’s baby boom generation.

The industry incorporates a wide variety of careers, including many within or related to the field of healthcare administration. Employment opportunities may be found in traditional hospital settings, government agencies and private corporations. A candidate’s educational qualifications and work history are major factors in determining job prospects and salary potential, as are regional market conditions.

Among the career paths related to healthcare administration:

Health Services Manager

Health services managers work closely with physicians, nurses and other professionals to efficiently deliver healthcare services, ensure compliance with changing regulations, manage finances and supervise staff, among other functions. The may work for clinics, physicians’ offices, hospitals and drug companies.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for health services managers are expected to increase by 17% nationally through 2024. By comparison, the average growth rate for all occupations is projected to be 7% and 6% for all management occupations.

In 2014, there were approximately 333,000 jobs for health services managers, which is expected to reach 389,300 by 2024.

Much of the growth for health services managers will be a consequence of the aging of Baby Boomers, which will fuel demand for medical services. In turn, that should lead to an increase in the number of medical professionals and healthcare facilities, as well as physicians’ offices, the BLS said.

In May 2016, the median annual salary for health services managers was $96,540, according to the BLS.

A bachelor’s degree usually is required for employment as a health services manager, although it’s becoming more common for candidates to have a master’s degree, the BLS reports. Typically, coursework covers hospital organization and management, human resources administration, health economics and health information systems.

Social Service Manager

Social service managers provide programs that respond to the needs of different populations – children, veterans and the homeless – and also deal with issues that touch the public, such as mental health or drug and alcohol addiction. They monitor and report on the impact of their programs, supervise staff and are involved in securing funding.

Employment opportunities for social service managers are expected to increase 10% through 2024, the BLS said, as an aging population brings the need for more support services. Additionally, job growth may come from more people in search of treatment for drug addiction as courts send more people into treatment programs rather than jail.

The median salary for social service managers in May 2016 was $64,680, the BLS said.

Social services managers typically have a bachelor’s degree in a discipline such as social work, public administration or urban studies. The BLS notes that a growing number of employers are requiring that candidates have a master’s in a field such as social work, public health or business administration.

Insurance Underwriter

Insurance underwriters specializing in healthcare evaluate the risk in providing health insurance to applicants. They also determine coverage amounts and premiums, using specialized computer software to guide their underwriting decisions. Additionally, they may review medical documents and other data in making a recommendation.

The increased use of underwriting software, which automates the process, is expected to create an 11% drop in jobs for insurance underwriters through 2024, according to the BLS. Some underwriters will be needed to evaluate automated decisions.

The median pay for insurance underwriters in May 2016 was $67,680 with the majority working for insurance carriers, according to the BLS.

Most employers require candidates for insurance underwriter positions to have a bachelor’s degree, including coursework in business, finance, economics and mathematics.

Human Resources Manager

The planning and overseeing of employee healthcare benefits can comprise a significant portion of a human resources manager’s duties. Other healthcare-related responsibilities may include negotiating medical coverage plans with insurers, creating and directing employee wellness, and scheduling preventive health screenings.

Human resources (HR) managers also develop organizational policies, recruit employees and direct disciplinary procedures.

Employment of HR managers is expected to rise by 9% through 2024, faster than average for all occupations, according to the BLS. As the economy improves and businesses expand, HR managers will be needed to help ensure their employers stay current as to policies and practices in areas such as occupational safety and health, healthcare and retirement.

In May 2016, HR managers had a median salary of $106,910. Those working at the management level of companies had an average salary of $137,680 and those working at hospitals received an average annual salary of $118,230, the BLS said.

In general, HR managers must have a bachelor’s degree in human resources, business administration or a related discipline. However, senior-level positions may call for a graduate degree and some employers prefer candidates with professional certification from an organization such as the Society for Human Resources Management.

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