Is a Masters in Healthcare Administration Worth It? [2021 Guide]

Is a masters in healthcare administration worth it? Yes, a healthcare administration master’s degree can help you make a real difference in healthcare delivery.

Masters in Healthcare Administration

This degree can help prepare you to work as a leader who improves a facility’s quality of care, organizational structure, budgetary decisions and personnel oversight.

Is a Masters in Healthcare Administration Worth it?

health consultant checking his staff's work

Yes, a masters in healthcare administration is worth it for many students. In the healthcare field, jobs are projected to grow at a rate of 15% in the next 10 years (Bureau of Labor Statistics), faster than the average for jobs in all fields.

Common healthcare administration careers include director of operations, healthcare consultant, practice administrator, project manager and chief operating officer.

Health administrators are responsible for ensuring that healthcare facilities run smoothly. In this role, you may oversee specific departments or entire facilities. Every day, you may juggle a variety of tasks and receive reports on many aspects of your facility.

These may include:

  • Budgets and finance
  • Emergency planning
  • Quality management
  • Policy development
  • Staffing
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Training and development
  • Vendor communications

Because your many administrative tasks may be so varied, it’s important to have a thorough educational background. A Master of Health Administration (MHA) is a valuable degree program because it addresses the many responsibilities of modern administrators.

Traditional or healthcare online degrees are typically very rewarding, and MHA vs MBA programs are perfect examples of that. Your grad school experience is likely to equip you with skills related to human resources, finance, organizational leadership, project management and more.

Healthcare Administrator working on her laptop

If you have your sights set on a career in the healthcare industry, you’ll probably appreciate the health-specific focus of an MHA program. In addition to the many business and leadership skills that you can acquire during your studies, you can also become a bigger expert in matters of healthcare.

Studying medical terminology, health law and healthcare informatics will help prepare you to interact with both clinical providers and business professionals.

Once you’ve graduated with your MHA, you should have plenty of career options available to you. Medicine and healthcare are growing fields, and the organizations that deliver those services need the input of trained administrators.

With a traditional or online healthcare administration degree and relevant experience, you may even be able to move into some of a hospital system’s top executive roles.

5 Things You Can Do with a Healthcare Administration Degree

Chief Executive Officer meeting with his colleagues

Typically, people who pursue jobs in health administration do so because they’re interested in bettering others’ wellbeing, but hands-on clinical care isn’t for them. Instead, they’d rather contribute by taking care of healthcare organizations’ business and staffing needs. If that describes you, then one of these five jobs might be a great fit.

1. Chief Executive Officer

The CEO of a hospital or another healthcare organization sets the vision for the organization. Major decisions are often the CEO’s responsibility.

If you have your sights set on a CEO position, you’ll probably need at least a master’s degree as well as a good deal of experience. Climbing to the top usually requires advancing through the ranks over many years.

To set yourself apart as an exemplary candidate, you’ll need to have strong leadership skills and good business savvy. You’ll also have to be a clear communicator who relates well to others but doesn’t hesitate to make tough decisions.

2. Chief Operating Officer

Chief Operating Officer having a meeting with hospital staffs

COO is another executive position in many healthcare organizations. This individual may report directly to the CEO.

Healthcare administration master’s degree programs often focus largely on managing personnel and departments within an organization. That makes a COO position a perfect fit for someone with an MHA since this job entails overseeing staffing needs and employee development.

As a COO, you may also be in charge of using space, resources and time as efficiently as possible. Like being a CEO, this position requires a lot of experience. You may need to work as an operations manager first.

3. Director of Operations

Hospital's Director of Operations having a meeting with his colleagues

Although it’s not necessarily considered an executive role, being a director of operations or an operations manager is often a good deal like being a COO. In some organizations, this job could even be a stepping stone to a spot in the C-suite.

The director of operations’ task is to oversee an organization’s productivity. That may involve coordinating employees to make sure that their skills are being used in the best ways.

Sometimes, a director of operations is in charge of negotiating with third-party vendors for supplies or services. For that reason, this may be a good job for you if you’re a strong communicator.

4. Practice Administrator

Healthcare administrator meeting new employees of a hospital

Healthcare facilities of all sizes need people to head up their daily operations. In a small or midsize facility, the person with that responsibility might be known as the practice administrator.

As a practice administrator, you may work in a healthcare practice with multiple physicians, a dental facility, a mental health clinic or a physical therapy office.

To do this job well, you have to be good at juggling multiple responsibilities. One moment you might be responding to a customer service issue, and the next you might be looking over the budget or considering whom to hire.

5. Healthcare Consultant

Healthcare Consultant sharing his ideas to fellow health workers

Sometimes it takes an outside person to see what an organization needs for growth and development. As a healthcare consultant, you might travel from one facility to another to identify strengths and weaknesses and suggest improvement plans.

For you to a successful consultant, others have to trust your leadership and insight. It can help if you have experience as an administrator and a proven track record of turning organizations around.

You may need to study organizations’ facts and figures, so you should be skilled at data analysis. You should also be a people-person who communicates clearly and enjoys travel.

Healthcare Administration Careers & Salaries

Healthcare Administration Careers & Salaries

Having a master’s degree is a sign to many employers that you’re ready for leadership roles. MHA graduates often hold jobs with “manager,” “director,” “officer” or “vice president” in their names.

Getting the top positions can require serious commitment. As you make your way there, you’ll probably need to fill a series of more junior roles. With each advancement, you may receive more responsibilities and higher pay.

Fortunately, there may be many job options along the way. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for medical and health services managers are expected to grow 32% over the next ten years.

Healthcare Administration Mid-Career Jobs

Healthcare Consultant talking to a patient

By the time you earn an MHA, you may have several years of professional experience under your belt. After graduation, you may be able to take a mid-career position like those listed below.

Careers Annual Median Salary
Practice Administrator $87,920
Healthcare Consultant $77,130
Process Analyst in Healthcare $76,350
Public Relations Specialist $62,810
Healthcare Project Manager $62,330
Marketing Specialist in Healthcare $57,260
Health Educator $56,500

An MHA may not be required for all of these positions, but qualifications vary among employers. Even if a hiring committee doesn’t specify that candidates should hold a master’s degree, this level of education may help you stand out from the pool of applicants.

The salary figures above are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and not a guarantee of income. Your personal earnings may be affected by your position, employer, geographic location, experience and certifications.

Healthcare Administration Highest Paying Jobs

Chief Executive Officer meeting with healthcare personnel

It’s not uncommon for an MHA to lead to six-figure salaries, especially once you’re well along in your career. Some of the top-paying jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, are shown below.

Careers Annual Median Salary
Chief Executive Officer $185,950
Chief Operating Officer in Healthcare $160,950
Hospital Director $112,870
Healthcare Administrator $104,280
General Operations Manager $103,650
Outpatient Care Manager $100,690
Nursing Home Administrator $89,880

Keep in mind that the jobs with the highest pay usually involve a great deal of responsibility. Along with large paychecks, you may receive plenty of accolades when your organization is doing well. Just understand that you may also have to take the blame when serious problems arise.

If you’re up for the challenge, top leadership positions in healthcare can be quite lucrative. Some roles, such as chief nursing officer or nursing home director, may require additional certifications, licenses or degrees.

Is an MHA degree Worth the Money?

Healthcare Administrator talking to doctors

Yes, as the average annual salary is around $80,000 with a Master of Health Administration (Center on Education and the Workforce). Some professionals in this field make well over $100,000 each year.

Having an MHA can make you uniquely qualified for leadership roles in healthcare settings. You can learn skills for business, management, human resources, regulatory compliance and medical communications.

Around the country, thanks to an aging population with increasing medical needs, healthcare professionals are in high demand. This includes administrative personnel, so the job outlook for this sector is strong.

What Can You Do With a Masters in Healthcare Administration?

Healthcare Administrators checking online files during a meeting

A graduate degree in this field can prepare you to work as a healthcare leader. Administrators usually supervise matters related to personnel. This may include making sure that the right people are hired for each position and that staff members are equipped with the training and resources that they need.

Healthcare administrators also take responsibility for various departments throughout a facility. Overseeing operations is a common role for people with an MHA.

Titles you could hold with this degree include healthcare administrator, vice president of operations, practice manager, chief operating officer and project manager. You could work in a hospital, a clinic, a group medical practice or a long-term care facility.

How Much Can I Earn With a Master’s in Healthcare Administration Degree?

Healthcare Administrators meeting with hospital staff

Healthcare administration can be a great way to earn a living. Not only can you bring home a good paycheck, but you can do it with the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve helped others better their health and wellness.

With an MHA, you might earn around $62,330 as a project manager, $77,130 as a healthcare consultant or $89,880 as a nursing home administrator. A VP of operations could make $161,190 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Overall, people with an MHA earn an average annual salary of $80,000 (Center on Education and the Workforce), but salaries can vary greatly based on experience, workplace setting and responsibilities.

Getting Your Master’s in Healthcare Administration Degree Online

Master’s in Healthcare Administration Degree student studying online

To become a leader who helps healthcare facilities run as smoothly as possible, enroll in a Master of Healthcare Administration program. The valuable insight that you can gain from your studies can equip you to head up teams and maximize operations, and your work can contribute to positive health outcomes.

This is a growing field, and you can have a role to play in it as a practice administrator, an operations director or a healthcare consultant. To get started, explore some of the many MHA programs that are available, and submit applications to some of your favorites.

Joy Cromwelle
WRITTEN BY
Joy Cromwelle
Joy is pursuing her Ph.D. in Public Policy & Foreign Policy and holds a Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management, as well as a Bachelor's in Business Administration. Joy's focus is helping non-traditional students find accelerated degree options and credit for prior learning opportunities.