The Essential Role of a Hospital Administrator

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Smiling Hospital Administrator

Walk into any hospital and you’ll see a hive of activity. Doctors and nurses bustle from room to room while front desk attendants direct patients to the right places. Staff members know where to locate the medications, supplies and equipment they need to ensure they deliver quality, timely patient care, and every employee understands their duties.

Behind it all are hospital administrators who strive to make sure the hospital’s many departments work in harmony to provide high-quality patient care. If you’re a natural leader with management experience who is at home in a fast-paced environment and skilled at balancing multiple priorities, you may be ready to take on a lead role in the dynamic, competitive medical field by becoming a hospital administrator.

What Does a Hospital Administrator Do?

Hospital administrators are involved in nearly every aspect of a hospital’s complex operations, from hiring staff and managing budgets to meeting with doctors and nurses about their schedules and priorities. Hospital administrators’ responsibilities include:

  • Hiring, training and managing staff, including development of work schedules
  • Ensuring compliance with laws and regulations
  • Preparing budgets and billing patients
  • Maintaining hospital records and data
  • Working with doctors and other staff members to ensure high-quality patient care
  • Acting on behalf of the hospital in communication with external vendors, stakeholders, regulatory bodies and members of the public

How to Become a Hospital Administrator

Becoming a hospital administrator requires the right combination of education, experience and skills.


In general, hospital administrators must have at minimum a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as health administration, nursing or health management. However, many employers prefer applicants with a master’s degree in the field, such as USC’s Executive Master of Health Administration (MHA). This type of degree can help professionals already experienced in clinical and management settings expand their skills and competencies.


In addition to a bachelor’s or master’s degree, some hospital administrators may choose to pursue certification in a specific area such as medical management or health information management. While hospital administrators typically aren’t required to pursue certifications, these extra credentials can offer specialized expertise and set prospective applicants apart from their peers. Potential certifications include:

  • Certified medical manager (CMM)
  • Certified professional in healthcare information and management systems (CPHIMS)
  • Certified professional in healthcare risk management (CPHRM)
  • Certified healthcare administrative professional (cHAP)
  • Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE)
  • Nursing home administrator (NHA) or residential care/assisted living administrator (RC/AL) (one of these certifications is often required to manage a nursing home)


Aspiring hospital administrators typically have previous clinical or administrative experience in a health care setting. Hospital administrators may work as registered nurses, health information technicians or administrative assistants before moving into the role of health administrator.


Hospital administrators work with colleagues and clients from all areas of the organization, including doctors, nurses, laboratory technicians, patients and insurance providers. As such, hospital administrators must have both people skills and technical skills.

  • Communication: Hospital administrators interact with a wide variety of people in a hospital, from doctors and nurses to patients and their families. They may also represent the hospital to the public in press conferences and doing community outreach.
  • Leadership: To manage their teams effectively, hospital administrators need to be able to motivate employees, solve problems and resolve conflicts.
  • Organization: Solid organizational skills help hospital administrators manage the many duties they carry out each day.
  • Technical skills: Hospital administrators should have a good understanding of the technical elements of health care and must stay on top of technologies such as electronic health record systems.

Job and Salary Outlook for Hospital Administrators

Hospital administration is a rapidly growing field, reflecting the growth of health care services more generally, which is due in part to an aging population. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that between 2020 and 2030, demand for medical and health services managers will increase by 32%, far faster than the job market as a whole. In May 2020, their median salary was $104,280, according to the BLS.

Prepare to Lead with an Executive Master of Health Administration Online

Your path to becoming a hospital administrator starts with the right skills, training and education. USC’s online Executive Master of Health Administration program offers the opportunity to advance your career in the rapidly evolving health care environment. Designed for mid- to senior-level clinical and management professionals interested in sharpening their business sense and expanding their skills and competencies, the Executive MHA can be your next step on the path to becoming a visionary and effective leader in the health care industry of the future. Find out how USC’s Executive MHA can help shape your career today.


Recommended Readings

Why USC EMHA with Dr. Tom Collins

What Is an Executive Master of Health Administration Degree?

Telemedicine, COVID-19 and the Future of Healthcare



American College of Healthcare Executives, FACHE

American Society for Health Risk Management, Certified Professional in Health Care Risk Management (CPHRM)

The Balance Careers, “What Does a Health Care/Hospital Administrator Do?”

Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, CPHIMS Certification

National Association of Long Term Care Administrators Board, State Licensure Requirements

PayScale, Average Hospital Administrator Salary

Professional Association of Health Care Office Management, Certification

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