Which Pays More – Healthcare Management or Healthcare Administration? [2024 Guide]

By Joy Cromwelle
Edited by Briana Sukert
Updated on April 13, 2024
Edited by Briana Sukert
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Which pays more healthcare management or healthcare administration? Both degrees can lead to leadership positions in healthcare settings, such as hospitals, doctor’s offices, and residential facilities.

Healthcare Management or Healthcare Administration

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Healthcare leadership is a stable field with good pay potential, many job opportunities, and the chance to contribute to the health and wellness of communities.

Which Pays More Healthcare Management or Administration?

In general, healthcare management and healthcare administration offer comparable salary ranges. The average annual salary for healthcare management is just slightly higher than that of healthcare administration.

The average salary for a graduate student with a traditional or online healthcare management degree ranges from $69,000 to $133,000 per year, while the annual healthcare administration salary ranges between $62,000 to $128,000 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Curriculum Focus

healthcare management students in business class

Degree programs in healthcare management typically include many business classes. This business know-how can help prepare you to make important financial decisions and provide organizational direction.

On-campus or online healthcare administration degree programs typically deal less with the ins and outs of the business. Instead, they spend more time covering topics like staffing, quality assurance, and departmental supervision.

Jobs at the Top

hospital CEO meeting with doctors

The strong business foundation of a management program can help equip you for executive positions in large healthcare organizations.

Hospital CEOs and COOs often have this type of degree. The impressive salaries that come with those roles help raise the overall average earnings for this degree. Although it’s possible to secure an executive position with an administration degree, you’re more likely to head up smaller healthcare organizations instead.

You might also be responsible for overseeing a large hospital system’s quality assurance, human resources, or regulatory compliance department. Depending on the employer and the position, these jobs may pay nearly as much as some executive roles.

Other Professional Roles

hospital administrator talking to hospital staff

You probably won’t get your start in such high-up roles, of course. Healthcare management students may start with roles in analytics, project management, or finance. Healthcare administration graduates are more likely to get their start in departments like human resources, office administration, payroll, and benefits, or program management.

At this level, management and administration jobs are often quite similar in pay. The experience you gain in those positions may help you advance to jobs with more responsibility and bigger paychecks.

Careers & Salaries – Healthcare Administration vs. Healthcare Management

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the number of jobs for medical and health services managers will grow by 32% for the next 10 years.

Both a master’s degree in healthcare management and a master’s degree in healthcare administration can help you earn a steady paycheck from this growing line of work.

For a professional with a Master’s in Healthcare Management, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the following average salaries:

Careers Annual Median Salary
Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) $185,950
Chief Financial Officers in Healthcare $160,950
Advertising and Promotions Managers $133,460
General and Operations Managers $103,650
Outpatient Care Managers $100,690
Administrative Services Managers in Healthcare $87,920

The average salary for a graduate student with a traditional or online healthcare management degree ranges from $69,000 to $133,000 per year.

For a professional with a Master’s in Healthcare Administration, the average salaries per the Bureau of Labor Statistics are as follows:

Careers Annual Median Salary
Chief Executives $185,950
Compensation and Benefits Managers $125,130
Training and Development Managers $115,640
Medical and Health Services Managers $104,280
Recruiting Managers in Healthcare $101,990
Nursing Home Administrators $89,880

On average, the annual healthcare administration salary ranges between $62,000 and $128,000.

Healthcare management jobs most often deal with providing overall supervision and direction for a facility. People with this degree often work at the top level of management in hospitals or other healthcare organizations. Their jobs may entail running business operations and casting vision for future growth and development.

If your goal is to take a top spot in a medical system, then a management degree may be the best educational path for you.

With enough education and experience, you might eventually become a CEO, a vice president, an executive director, or a chief operating officer. Along the way, you might hold titles like practice administrator, healthcare manager, or financial analyst.

Healthcare Administrators shaking hands after a meeting

Healthcare administration jobs are often more people-focused. This degree can help you develop the know-how to assemble strong teams, provide staff supervision, encourage quality care giving, and coordinate departmental activities.

Common roles for healthcare administration professionals include working as a practice administrator, a program manager, or an operations supervisor. These roles are often held at the departmental level. You might specialize in payroll, recruiting, marketing, quality management, or community outreach.

Of course, there is plenty of overlap in the jobs you can do with these two degrees. Even if you opt for an MHA over an MBA in Healthcare Management online, you may end up as a CEO someday. Both your classroom education and the experience you gain during your time in healthcare settings can help you prepare for that role.

Both online healthcare degrees offer a variety of settings where you could find employment. These include hospitals, group practices, nursing homes, surgery centers, correctional facilities, and public health departments.

What’s the Difference Between Healthcare Administration and Healthcare Management?

healthcare administrators in a meeting

Because health administration and health management salaries are often quite similar, you may not want to make your final degree choice based on earnings alone. Instead, consider which degree would do the best job of furthering your future career goals.

Understanding the difference between the two programs can help you make that decision.

Either degree program can help you learn valuable leadership skills. If you have your sights set on making a significant contribution to the success of healthcare organizations, then either degree can help you accomplish that goal. There is a difference, though, in what sort of leadership skills you are likely to learn.

In a management program, you are more likely to learn business leadership skills. Focusing on topics like data analytics, finance, information technology, and healthcare law can help you learn how to keep an eye on your organization’s numbers, develop growth strategies, and guide the overall trajectory of your facility.

These studies can be good preparation for organization-wide leadership roles, such as being an executive officer or a facility director. The leadership skills emphasized in administration programs are useful for overseeing personnel and improving workplace operations.

No matter the degree level, whether its an associate’s degree in healthcare administration or management, the courses will likely cover team dynamics, workplace regulations, public health, facility operations and quality management. After completing such a curriculum, you may be a department head or a medical services manager in a healthcare organization.

Healthcare Management Healthcare Administration
GMAT scores may be required for admission GRE or GMAT scores may be considered in the admissions process
Courses may include a business core and healthcare-specific classes Curriculum may cover global health, healthcare delivery, organizational leadership, and quality assurance
May have programmatic accreditation from a business or healthcare organization May have programmatic accreditation from a healthcare-specific accreditor
Concentration options like Leadership, Informatics, Analytics Concentration options like Supply Chain, Population Health, Organizational Leadership
Career options include CEO, VP of Operations, Executive Director Potential job titles include Practice Administrator, Quality Assurance Director, Health Services Manager

Because there is often a good deal of overlap between these two programs, you may want to review a school’s course list before making your final choice. This will provide insight into whether the curriculum aligns well with your personal career goals.

Healthcare Management vs. Healthcare Administration Education Paths

Healthcare management and healthcare administration programs may differ in a variety of ways, including degree type, admissions requirements, and programmatic accreditation.

Healthcare Management Degree

doctors sharing their ideas during a meeting

Many schools offer healthcare management as a specialization for their Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs. In that case, you’ll likely take a business core with classes about finance, marketing, and information technology plus a few courses that are specific to the healthcare field.

There are some colleges that offer healthcare management as a Master of Science (MS) program instead. Even still, you can expect to take multiple business classes. To get into a business-focused program, you may need to submit GMAT scores, and work experience may be required.

This type of program may be accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), or the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME).

Healthcare Administration Degree

healthcare administrators in a meeting

If you opt for an administration degree, you might earn a Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) or an MS in Healthcare Administration. Unlike an MBA, these are not business-focused degrees, so you will likely take more courses that are specific to the healthcare industry.

This may include classes on healthcare law and ethics, quality management, healthcare delivery systems, hospital marketing, and public health. If your MHA program requests test scores, you may be given the choice of using GRE or GMAT results. You may need a few years of professional experience.

Since this is a healthcare-oriented degree, it’s a good idea to look for programmatic accreditation from CAHME.

Which Is Better Healthcare Management or Administration?

hospital administrators in a meeting

When it comes to healthcare administration and healthcare management, one isn’t better than the other. Rather, they are two equally important branches of healthcare leadership.

Modern healthcare organizations are complex systems. To operate smoothly, some leaders must head up business decisions, and others need to oversee staff operations. Both types of leaders are in demand by hospitals and other healthcare organizations.

If the business aspects of hospital operations appeal to you, then you’ll probably want to opt for a healthcare management program. For those who want to deliver staff and department leadership, healthcare administration may be the better choice.

How Much Do You Make With a Degree in Healthcare Management?

hospital administrator talking to his staff

The average annual salary for people with master’s degrees is $78,210 (Bureau of Labor Statistics). In the healthcare management field, it may range from about $87,000 to $185,000 per year. Your personal salary will depend largely on the job you hold.

Executive officers usually make more than junior staff members. While a chief executive may earn around $185,000 each year, an operations manager may make around $103,000. Also, directors of complex organizations may earn more than those who manage smaller practices.

The more work experience you gain, the more opportunities you may have to advance in your organization or move to larger healthcare companies with more room for growth. As you do, your salary may increase accordingly.

What Can You Do With a Masters in Healthcare Administration?

hospital administrator talking to a doctor

Places that healthcare administrators work include hospitals, group medical practices, long-term care facilities, outpatient surgical centers, community health clinics, and public health departments.

In these settings, you might be responsible for staffing-related responsibilities, such as hiring, training, scheduling, or managing employee relations. You might also manage the day-to-day operations of particular departments within a larger organization.

Your role might include implementing procedures to ensure that legal regulations are followed and patients receive quality care.

Common job titles for this degree include practice administrator, operations director, or performance improvement analyst. You might also become a program director or a health services manager.

What Can You Do With a Masters in Healthcare Management?

healthcare manager meeting with doctors

Professionals in healthcare management are often responsible for business decisions that shape how hospitals approach patient care. They may oversee an organization’s finances, information technology, and data analytics. Those in top positions may also be responsible for casting a vision and steering the company in that direction.

Healthcare management master’s degrees can help prepare you to take healthcare jobs related to finance, project management, operations, accounting, information technology, or compliance. Over time, you may move into more senior roles, perhaps as a vice president or a chief executive.

You might also work as a consultant who advises healthcare organizations.

Getting Your Degree Online

doctor studying online

Whether you choose to study healthcare administration or healthcare management, an online program may be the best approach to getting your degree. With the flexibility of online courses, you may be able to balance school, work, and home responsibilities.

Your online studies can help you learn valuable leadership skills that medical organizations need. A degree in healthcare management can help prepare you to work on the business side of things, and a healthcare administration program can help you learn how to coordinate personnel.

Once you decide which approach is best for you, you’ll be ready to start the application process for your top schools.

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