Five Top Health Care Administrator Careers

For many, the field of health care is all about helping the sick get better. But what about the business side of health care? A successful hospital or clinic must work like the most efficient of corporations to be able to provide the best care--and it takes a whole behind-the-scenes team of health care administrators to keep things running smoothly.

Popular Paths For A Health Care Administrator Career:
A health care administrator career can be quite rewarding for someone who is interested in the field of medicine or public health, but also has a mind for budgets, marketing, or development. It's a field with widely varied opportunities and responsibilities, from handling the operational details of a managed care facility to shaping national health care policies. If you're interested in a health care administrator career, here are five interesting options you shouldn't miss.

1. Clinical Department Director
Hospitals need experienced managers to oversee their specialized departments, such as nursing services or the physical therapy unit. So if you have significant experience in a clinical specialty and a master's degree in health services administration, this could be a great option. While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't offer any specific salary data for this career path, the median yearly salary for health care managers in general was $81,850 in 2009.

2. Health Organization or Non-Profit Director
Groups like the American Red Cross and government agencies like the Food and Drug Administration need health care administrators to help shape health policy, direct outreach, or manage fundraising. To get this type of job, you'll typically need a master's in public health or health administration, or some other significant background in health care. Your salary depends on the type and size of the organization, but according to the BLS, the median annual wage for high level executives can easily top six figures.

3. Group Practice Manager
These are the budget, staffing, and information management experts that work to make your doctor's office run more efficiently. According to the BLS and the Medical Group Management Association, median salaries for group practice administrators in 2007 were $82,423 in practices with 6 or fewer physicians; $105,710 in practices with 7 to 25 physicians; and $119,000 in practices with 26 or more physicians. Experience in office administration is critical for this type of position, and candidates with an advanced degree may find more opportunities.

4. Hospital Executive
CEO's, COO's, and other hospital executives make sure their hospital has adequate medical and financial footing to serve the needs of patients and the community. Most people in these types of positions have advanced degrees in health care administration or business, or both. The median annual wage for a hospital health administrator was $87,040 in 2009--but the average compensation for high level execs like a CEO or CFO was $167,280.

5. Consultant
For someone interested in tackling different kinds of challenges with different types of organizations, a health care administrator career in consulting is the way to go. You can find consulting positions with large, comprehensive strategic consulting firms and smaller firms that specialize in the health care industry. It's a lucrative route, as the BLS notes that the median yearly salary for management, scientific, and technical consultants was $81,670 in 2009.

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