5 In-Demand Careers in Health Administration in 2021

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A health information technology specialist works at her desk.


In 2019, U.S. health care expenditures totaled $3.8 trillion, or 17.7% of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) for that year, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Given its massive scale, the health care industry needs people who can oversee quality of care, promote efficiency and monitor the business side of providing health care — that’s where health administration professionals come into play. Health administration careers offer variety and potential for growth, and individuals who pursue an Executive Master of Health Administration (MHA) program are well positioned to become leaders in their fields.

While a background in medicine isn’t required for health administration roles, clinical professionals are particularly suited for the field. Management professionals with a desire to enter the health care field are also good candidates for health administration.

Health Care Administrator Responsibilities

Health care administrators carry out responsibilities that have direct and indirect effects on critical aspects of health care, such as quality of care, cost reduction and efficiency. For example, health care administrators can be responsible for:

  • Implementing quality management systems that focus on customer satisfaction and organizational performance
  • Performing cost-benefit analysis to improve the financial position and efficiency of health care organizations
  • Coordinating with community organizations to help address the social determinants of health
  • Ensuring that health care organizations have both adequate physical security and information technology (IT) security
  • Overseeing functions such as billing, contracting, human resources, supplies and budgets

Individuals can pursue health administration careers in hospitals, long-term care facilities, physician practice groups and public health agencies, among other settings.

Outlook for Careers in Health Administration

The outlook for employment in health care administration is bright. The aging of the baby boomer population is translating into an increase in demand for health care at facilities such as physicians’ offices, hospitals and nursing homes. As the baby-boom population ages, the need for treatment of complex and chronic conditions, such as obesity, is also rising. The trends have resulted in increased demand for health care administrators to oversee operations at all types of health care organizations.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment of medical and health services managers will grow by 32% from 2019 to 2029, a growth rate that’s significantly higher than the 4% projected for all occupations.

In its 2021 rankings of the best jobs, U.S. News & World Report ranked medical and health services manager as the best business job and the fourth-best job overall.

5 In-Demand Health Administration Careers

Opportunities for a career in health administration require a variety of knowledge and skills.

1. Nursing Home Administrator

When working as nursing home administrators, individuals oversee residents’ care, supervise staff, and monitor finances and building maintenance. States require individuals to be licensed to become a nursing home administrator, and licensure requirements typically include having a bachelor’s degree in areas such as health administration or business administration. Employers often prefer that health care administrators have an advanced degree, such as an MHA.

According to PayScale, the average annual salary for nursing home administrators is about $91,700 as of February 2021. The BLS includes nursing home administrators among the medical and health services managers whose employment growth it projected would increase by 32% between 2019 and 2029.


2. Health Care Marketing Manager

Marketing managers who work in health care develop and implement marketing and communications initiatives, perform brand management duties, and analyze market data. They typically have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in areas such as marketing, health care administration or public health. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for marketing managers was $136,850 in 2019, with projected employment growth of 7% between 2019 and 2029.


3. Health Insurance Manager

Individuals who have expertise in the complexities of health insurance and claims management have various career options. They can work for health care providers overseeing functions such as revenue cycle management and health insurance claims; they can also manage health insurance benefits that employers provide to their employees. They typically have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in areas such as finance or administration.

Salaries vary depending on the specific position. The BLS reported that the median annual salary for medical and health services managers was $100,980 in 2019, with projected employment growth of 32% between 2019 and 2029. Per the BLS, the median annual salary for compensation and benefits managers was $122,270 in 2019, with projected employment growth of 3% between 2019 and 2029.


4. Chief Nursing Officer

A chief nursing officer (CNO) oversees all the nursing activities of a health care provider. As executive leaders, they also have responsibilities in areas such as budgeting and training. Individuals who become CNOs usually begin as nurses, and a number of certifications are available to nurses who want to transition into the CNO role.

According to PayScale, the average annual salary for CNOs is about $131,500 as of February 2021. The BLS included managers who oversee nursing departments among the medical and health services managers whose employment growth it projected would increase by 32% between 2019 and 2029.


5. Health Information Technology Specialist

Health administration careers are available to individuals with IT expertise in areas such as network administration, software development and database administration. As technologies such as telemedicine and electronic medical records continue to evolve, IT specialists will play an even larger role. IT specialists typically have a bachelor’s degree in an area such as computer science, and numerous certifications are open to individuals who wish to further specialize.

According to PayScale, the average annual salary for jobs in health care information technology services is about $82,000 as of February 2021. The BLS projects employment for computer and information systems managers to grow by 10% between 2019 and 2029.

Health Administration Careers Are Within Reach

The abundant career options and favorable employment outlook for health administration make the field attractive for clinical professionals, management professionals or anyone who wants to make a difference in health care and move into a leadership role. Individuals who pursue USC’s Executive MHA program can acquire valuable knowledge and skills for a career in health administration. Take the first step on the path to a fulfilling career today.


Recommended Readings

The Future of Healthcare Administration

Health Care Administration: Lasting Impacts from COVID-19

Managing Career Mobility in Health Administration: 7 Tips



American Organization for Nursing Leadership, Certified in Executive Nursing Practice Certification

American Public Health Association, Health Administration

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Historical

Forbes, “Healthcare Jobs Are Booming: Why It Could Be Your Next Career Move”

Healthcare Financial Management Association, “Healthcare Finance Leaders Emphasize Efficiency and Consider Partnerships in Response to Ongoing Trends”

Healthcare Financial Management Association, “The Evolution of Integrated Health System Leader Roles”

Houston Chronicle, “Health Care Administration Qualifications”

Houston Chronicle, “The Role of an IT Specialist”

Houston Chronicle, “What Type of Degree Does a Nursing Home Administrator Need?”

Kaiser Health News, “What the 2020s Have in Store for Aging Boomers”

Mayo Clinic, Director, Hospital Billing Services and Collections – Revenue Cycle

National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards, State Licensure Requirements

National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Quality Management in Healthcare: The Pivotal Desideratum”

PayScale, Average Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) Salary

PayScale, Average Nursing Home Administrator Salary

PayScale, Salary for Industry: Health Care Information Technology (IT) Services

Society for Health Care Strategy and Market Development, SHSMD Career Center

Texas Health & Human Services Commission, NFA FAQs

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Compensation and Benefits Managers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Computer and Information Systems Managers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Medical and Health Services Managers

U.S. News & World Report, Medical and Health Services Manager: Overview