8 Things You Need to Start a Successful Career in Healthcare Administration

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Healthcare administration is a popular career choice both for those just leaving college, as well as people who are looking for something different. It can be an excellent career choice for those who want to make a difference and improve patient care, and in return, you get a great salary and lots of benefits. You may be wondering how to get into healthcare administration, and while the top jobs can be competitive, with hard work, you could find yourself on the executive track. Here are some of the things you’ll need to start a career in healthcare administration and take that first step on the ladder.

1. The right qualifications

Some low-level healthcare admin jobs can be entered without specific qualifications, but if you want to move into the better paid, more interesting roles, then you’ll need to study for them.

It’s possible to take a bachelor’s in healthcare administration, which can be a good footing for several roles. If you already have a college degree, even in an unrelated subject, then you might want to go straight for a master’s degree in healthcare administration. It’s worth looking for the top MHA programs and seeing what their admission requirements are, you can decide which ones might be suitable for you.

Don’t have time to study? Don’t worry. There are different options for doing an MHA, such as online or part-time study, that can get you on the right track.

While doing a master’s degree may sound like a lot, it is the best way to get the skills you need to kick-start your career and go for the top jobs. Those with masters and a few years of experience can often earn six figures, as they are often best placed to go for executive and leadership roles when they crop up. Therefore, consider investing the time and money now, so you can get the rewards later on.

2. Industry certifications

The healthcare administration industry is vast and covers many different types of roles. If you are looking at something specific, then you may need to get further industry certification. This includes jobs in:

  • Medical management
  • Healthcare quality
  • Healthcare compliance
  • Revenue cycle
  • Finance

While these certifications aren’t always necessary, it’s worth reading up on them and deciding whether you can study for them in your spare time, as it can put you ahead when you apply for roles.

3. Some internships

Interning can provide valuable experience of healthcare administration and teaches you a lot of things you can’t learn in the classroom or in a book. It’s also an excellent excuse to put the theory you’ve learned into practice, and if you’re writing an essay, you can draw on the real-world experiences you have been through, making your college work better.

Another advantage of internships is that they often lead to the offer of a permanent job. Paid internships, in particular, as well as those taken during college, can often lead to a full-time job once you graduate.

You can get the most out of your internship by:

  • Networking
  • Being open to trying out different roles
  • Putting yourself forward for different tasks so you can practice your skills
  • Having a professional attitude and being easy to work with

Simply having qualifications on your resume isn’t enough, so make sure you look for internships as soon as possible for the best possible chance of success.

4. Contacts

Networking can be an excellent way to land your first job, as well as helping you move up the career ladder. It’s not always easy to begin the networking process, but there are lots of ways you can get your foot in the door.

Firstly, join some professional organizations such as the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management (AAHAM), which hosts several events across the USA. These events are a fantastic place to mingle and meet others in the industry, and you never know who you might meet at them.

Colleges often hold events for their students, so if you’re studying for your bachelor’s or master’s in healthcare administration, see what’s on offer. Make the most of any opportunities, such as talks or alumni events, so you can meet others in the industry and learn from them.

5. Experience

Experience is key to getting the best healthcare administration jobs, and those with the CEO/CFO and other high-profile positions will be the ones with years of experience.

However, when you first get out of college, your focus will simply be on getting your first job after graduation. This can be a big challenge, which is why doing an internship pays off, as you have something tangible on your resume.

If you’ve applied for a few jobs and haven’t had any luck, there are a few things you could try.

  • Widen your net – healthcare administration covers many different areas and settings. For example, if you can’t find the role you want in a hospital, look at clinics
  • Make sure you have a professional presence online such as a LinkedIn page, so potential employers get a positive impression when they search for you
  • Use your networking contacts to subtly find out about open positions – many job openings are never advertised, so this can be a great way to open up different opportunities
  • Take a good look at your resume, making sure it doesn’t contain errors or anything likely to put off potential employers

Remember, it’s not just experience in specific healthcare administration roles that’ll help you out here. If you’re a career changer and already had a professional career, think of what skills you can bring over. Even if you worked part-time during college, skills from organizing staff schedules to customer service can be relevant to these sorts of roles, so make sure your resume reflects anything that may give you the edge.

It’s not always easy to land your first job, but persistence is vital in this industry, so keep sending out applications, and eventually, you’re bound to get interviews.

6. A career plan

The good thing about healthcare administration is that you don’t have to completely map out your career from day one of college. Qualifications such as the MHA give you skills that could be taken into many different roles.

That said, it’s worth putting together a basic career plan once you graduate, as this will help you decide what kind of jobs to go for and what kind of professional development you might need. You don’t have to follow your career plan to the letter, but if you want a specific role, this helps you map a route towards it and gives you something to aim toward.

Some potential career goals you may be looking at could include:

  • Clinical research manager
  • Healthcare PR or marketing manager
  • Nursing home manager
  • Hospital CEO
  • Health information manager

Think about your ideal job in healthcare administration. Would you be working in a fast-paced environment like a hospital or somewhere small and friendly like a clinic? Are you happy with a decent salary, or do you want to go for the six-figure roles? This will help lead you on the right path.

7. Tenacity

Most healthcare administration jobs require you to start at a reasonably low level, then work your way up. It’s just the way the industry works, you need that valuable experience to get better at your job. That’s why it’s important to be hardworking and tenacious, always willing to give 100% and climb the ladder.

If you already have some great qualifications under your belt, and you practice habits that can get you promoted, then it’s likely you’ll move up the ranks quickly. While those in healthcare administration start small, the good news is, it’s a fantastic industry for career development and internal promotions. There’s a shortage of skills in this area, which means that employers want to keep hold of good employees, so trying can pay off.

8. Willingness to learn more

Healthcare is an industry that’s always changing, whether it’s ways to improve patient care or better technology, so it’s essential to be willing to learn new things. Most healthcare administrators are encouraged by their employers to go through regular training courses, which are often funded by the healthcare provider, and can give your resume a real boost. If there are opportunities for training, be one of the employees who volunteer, as this shows your willingness to develop your career.

Healthcare administration is an increasingly popular career choice, as the expanding healthcare industry offers many different opportunities. While this career path isn’t for everyone, it provides a lot of different options; however, you need to put in the work to land the best jobs in the industry. From getting the right qualifications to working on professional development with an internship and experience, there are many steps you can take to get that first step on the ladder and move up it, so you can make the most of your career in healthcare administration.