What can you do with a degree in healthcare administration?

6 min read


The COVID-19 pandemic exposed cracks within the nation’s healthcare delivery systems, and today, healthcare organizations have started to change for the better. From community clinics to state, local, and private hospital systems, organizations of all sizes are re-emphasizing the importance of teamwork and transparency. Furthermore, they are advocating for greater awareness of healthcare disparities and patients’ socioeconomic challenges.

The possibilities of what you can do with a healthcare administration degree are almost endless — from helping to oversee an organization’s budgets to staff recruitment and retention and ensuring facilities remain compliant with regulatory changes.

Healthcare professionals who are interested in moving into management roles to help shape the future of patient care models should consider earning an advanced degree, such as an online Master of Business Administration in Healthcare from Northern Arizona University. Students in this high-impact online MBA program can develop the knowledge and skills needed to lead meaningful change within the field.

How long does it take to get a degree in healthcare administration?

Completing an advanced education requires both time and dedication. The time it takes to earn an online degree largely depends on whether a student is enrolled in a standard or accelerated program. For example, the online MBA in Healthcare at Northern Arizona University offers both 24-month and 30-month options. Coursework within these programs is uniform and includes courses such as Strategy and Leadership, Financial Reporting and Statement Analysis, and Healthcare Decision Modeling and Simulation. The only difference between the two options is the time they take to complete. 

Possible career paths for professionals with an MBA in Healthcare

Potential students researching “what can you do with a degree in healthcare” will find that MBA holders play an important role in helping healthcare facilities run smoothly. Some career paths include marketing manager, accounting director, compliance officer, practice manager, chief operating officer, and chief nursing officer.

Marketing manager

Healthcare marketing managers work in a variety of healthcare environments, such as private and community clinics, hospitals, governmental agencies such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, pharmaceutical companies, and insurance companies. Professionals who choose this career path develop marketing campaigns to position an organization within the healthcare market. They use content marketing, social media marketing, print and radio marketing, and various other messaging channels. Individuals moving into a healthcare marketing manager role typically have several years of marketing experience in healthcare or a related industry. Clinicians looking to move out of direct care roles may also strive to pursue this position.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the overall employment of marketing managers, including healthcare marketing managers, to grow by 10% between 2020 and 2030, which is about as fast as the average projected growth for all occupations (8%). The BLS also notes that as of May 2020, the median annual salary for marketing managers was $142,170, with earners in the top 10th percentile reporting annual earnings of more than $208,000. 

Accounting director

Graduates with an MBA in Healthcare can also be a good fit for high-level accounting roles. In healthcare settings, professionals who choose this career oversee accounts payable and receivable and payroll, produce financial reports, and ensure accuracy of internal and external financial data and statements. This role is a good fit for experienced professionals looking to help the industry control costs and reduce inefficiencies.

The BLS classifies accounting directors under the category of financial managers, and it projects employment in the field to grow by 17% between 2020 and 2030, or faster than average. PayScale reports that as of September 2020, the median annual salary for accounting directors was approximately $107,000, with earners in the top 10th percentile earning more than $156,000 per year.

Compliance manager

Regulations within healthcare change constantly. Learners exploring what they might do with a degree in healthcare administration who are interested in helping facilities keep up with regulatory changes may find that the field of compliance management aligns with their career goals. Compliance managers help organizations stay compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Joint Commission, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and other accreditation standards. They also identify potential risk areas, develop compliance plans, and train staff on compliance issues. This role is well suited to healthcare professionals looking to make a greater impact in their organization.

Although the BLS does not specifically track job growth data for healthcare compliance officers, it projects that employment within healthcare occupations in general will grow by 16% between 2020 and 2030, which is much faster than average. PayScale reports that as of August 2021, the median annual salary for healthcare compliance managers was approximately $78,000, with those in the top 10th percentile reporting salaries of more than $130,000. 

Practice manager

Healthcare clinicians who are seeking greater responsibility and autonomy may view the role of practice manager as an attractive opportunity. Job responsibilities include developing policies and procedures, evaluating operational quality and efficiency, and managing facility budgets. Individuals in this position have the opportunity to make a measurable and immediate impact on their community and their organization.

The BLS projects the employment of health and medical service managers to grow a sizable 32% between 2020 and 2030. The BLS also reports that individuals in the field earned a median annual wage of $104,280 as of May 2020, with earners in the top 10th percentile earning more than $195,630.

Chief operating officer

Individuals with an MBA in Healthcare and previous management experience may pursue C-level healthcare executive roles, including chief operating officer positions. Chief operating officers (COOs) oversee day-to-day operational and administrative functions of facilities including hospitals and clinical networks. They evaluate the safety of clinical operations, develop protocols to measure departmental and facility performance, and ensure that budgets are maximized. 

The BLS classifies COOs under the blanket category of top executives, noting that it projects the overall employment of top executives, including chief operating officers, to grow by 8% between 2020 and 2030. PayScale reports that as of September 2021, the median annual salary for COOs was approximately $145,000, although earners in the top 10th percentile reported annual earnings of more than $247,000.

Chief nursing officer

Clinicians with an advanced education in management can also find opportunities in nursing leadership roles. For example, registered nurses interested in taking on managerial responsibilities are likely to find that completing an online MBA in Healthcare can help them pursue leadership roles such as nurse manager, nurse leader, and chief nursing officer. Chief nursing officers (CNOs) oversee and direct an organization’s nursing activities. In addition to working alongside hospital leadership to develop and oversee patient care strategies, they also oversee budgets, manage staffing, and plan equipment purchases. 

The BLS classifies CNOs under the blanket category of healthcare managers. It projects job growth within this field to grow by 32% between 2020 and 2030, which is much faster than average. The position can also be financially lucrative. PayScale reports that as of September 2021, the median annual salary for chief nursing officers was approximately $135,000, adding that earners in the top 10th percentile reported salaries of more than $203,000 per year.

Earn your MBA in Healthcare from Northern Arizona University

The nation’s healthcare system has reached a tipping point. Students interested in helping engage teams, bridging gaps between departments, and developing strategies to optimize care delivery systems will find that an advanced degree program, such as OpusVi and Northern Arizona University’s online MBA in Healthcare, can offer the knowledge and skills they’ll need to create change and make a lasting impact. 

Read more about how long it takes to complete a degree in healthcare administration and discover how Northern Arizona University, in partnership with OpusVi, can arm you with the tools you’ll need to succeed. With its affordable tuition costs and flexible online learning structure, the MBA in Healthcare program is designed to be accessible to a diverse range of healthcare professionals.