How to Become a Health Administrator

How to Become a Health Administrator

1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)

The first step to becoming a health administrator is to earn a bachelor's degree. While candidates with substantial experience may not be required to have more than an undergraduate degree, most will need to pursue a master's at minimum.

There is no specific bachelor's degree that is required for admission into a health administration master's program, so students have many study options at this level. Choosing a major that includes education in healthcare policy & law, marketing, human resources, information management, and healthcare financing is ideal.

A list of accredited health care management programs is available through the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME).

The following preparation timeline provides an example health administration curriculum:

Grade Level Example Courses
  • Introduction to Health & Disease
  • Health Professions Survey
  • Psychology
  • Medical Terminology
  • Microcomputers for Allied Health Professions
  • Anatomy & Physiology I
  • Anatomy & Physiology II
  • Public Speaking
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
  • Macroeconomics
  • Microeconomics
  • U.S. Healthcare Systems
  • Leading Healthcare Professions
  • Human Pathophysiology I
  • Organ Systems I • Organ Systems II
  • Organ Systems III
  • Organ Systems IV
  • Human Life Cycle
  • Epidemiology for Healthcare
  • Statistics in Health Professions
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
  • Financial Accounting
  • Principles of Finance
  • Organizations
  • Allied Health Information Methods
  • Healthcare Quality Management
  • Healthcare Databases & Technology
  • Healthcare Law
  • Healthcare Organizations Professional Practice Standards
  • Healthcare Management
  • Healthcare Information Systems Analysis & Design
  • Humanities Requirements
  • Electives
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Healthcare Operations Management
  • Healthcare Human Resources
  • Advanced Healthcare Systems
  • Healthcare Databases
  • Principles of Marketing
  • Healthcare Reimbursement Systems
  • Healthcare Administration
  • Remaining Requirements & Electives

For some smaller facilities, entry-level positions accept a bachelor’s degree as adequate, and is also accepted at the departmental level in these health care organizations and in health information management.

2. Take the Graduate Requisite Exam (GRE)

With a master's degree or higher being the entry-level qualifications for most health administrators, students must prepare themselves for the 3 hour and 45 minute, standardized, multiple choice exam covering analytical writing, quantitative reasoning, and verbal reasoning.

The GRE is broken down into six primary sections:

Section Section Breakdown
1 Analytical Writing Section
  • 2 writing assignments
  • 60 minutes
  • Tests student's abilities to assess arguments and communicate ideas.
2 Quantitative Reasoning Sections
  • 20 multiple-choice questions
  • 35 minutes per section
  • Tests student's abilities to solve mathematical problems and interpret data.
2 Verbal Reasoning Sections
  • 20 questions per section
  • 30 minutes per section
  • Tests the ability to understand and analyze written material
1 Unscored Section
  • A duplicate of one of the above sections

You can find study materials, GRE registration, and test scores on the GRE website.

3. Earn a Master's or Doctoral Degree (2 - 6 Years)

Previously, most students opted for the traditional route of a master’s degree in health administration or public health. Today, however, students are looking into other options, including obtaining degrees in business with course concentration in health services management.

Some schools offer a joint master’s degree in business administration and public health. Others offer degrees in both health care management and law. A residency, fellowship or supervised internship may also be included in an academic program.

Medical and health services managers are required to be familiar with management principles and practices.

The standard credentials for most generalist positions in this field may include a master’s level degree in the following:

  • Health services administration
  • Long-term care administration
  • Health sciences
  • Public health
  • Public administration or business administration

Master’s degree programs in healthcare management generally last two years and include classes in health care policy and law, marketing, health care financing, organizational behavior, human resources or other health care management topics.A supervised internship, residency or fellowship could also be included.

The preparation timeline below provides an example master's in healthcare management curriculum:

Year Courses
  • Introduction to Statistical Thinking
  • Principles of Epidemiology
  • Social & Interpersonal Influences on Health
  • Ethics & Public Health
  • Principles of Environmental Health
  • Creating Healthcare & Life Science Ventures
  • Health Care Policy, Finance, & Economics
  • Seminar
  • Electives
  • Summer Internship
  • Healthcare Organizational Management
  • Methods in Health Services Research
  • Microeconomics for Health Policy & Management
  • Colloquium in Health Care Leadership
  • Fundamentals of Accounting & Finance
  • Managing Marketing Programs
  • Health Care Operations
  • Health Care Negotiations
  • Competitive Strategy
  • Managing Social Enterprises
  • Electives