Occupation Profile for Medical and Health Services Managers

Plan, direct, or coordinate medicine and health services in hospitals, clinics, managed care organizations, public health agencies, or similar organizations.


Significant Points

  • Job opportunities will be good, especially for applicants with work experience in health care and strong business and management skills.
  • A master’s degree is the standard credential, although a bachelor’s degree is adequate for some entry-level positions.
  • Medical and health services managers typically work long hours and may be called at all hours to deal with problems.


$73,340.00 Median Annual Wage 9,000 Average Job Openings Per Year
1.5 Average Unemployment Percentage 11.4 Percentage That Completed High School
262,000 Employment Numbers in 2006 32.0 Percentage That Had Some College
305,000 Employment Numbers in 2016 (est.) 56.6 Percentage That Went Beyond College Degree

Sample Job Titles
Administrative Officer
Assisted Living Administrator
Assisted Living Manager
Business Director
Chief Hospital Administrator
Chief of Staff
Client Services Director
Clinical Director
Clinical Supervisor
Coordinator of Rehabilitation Services
Director of Administration
Director of Clinic
Director of Clinical Services
Director of Correctional Therapy
Director of Health Services
Director of Nurses
Director of Nursing
Director of Nursing Service
Director of Occupational Therapy
Director of Physical Therapy
Director of Recreation Therapy
Director of Research
Director of Respiratory Therapy
Director of Speech and Hearing Therapy
Director of Volunteer Services
Director, Community Health Nursing
Director, Nursing Service
Director, Occupational Health Nursing
Director, Outpatient Services
Emergency Medical Services Coordinator
First Aid Director
Health Administrator
Health and Social Service Manager
Health Care Administrator
Health Care Coordinator
Health Care Facility Administrator
Health Care Manager
Health Director
Health Information Administrator
Health Services Administrator
Health Unit Coordinator
Healthcare Administrator
Healthcare Manager
Hospice Administrator
Hospice Director
Hospice Plan Administrator
Hospice Superintendent
Hospital Administrator
Hospital Director
Hospital Plan Administrator
Hospital Superintendent
Hospital Unit Coordinator
In Service Coordinator
In Service Educator
Laboratory Director
Long Term Care Administrator
Manager, Dental Laboratory
Manager, Emergency Medical Service
Manager, Hospital
Manager, Laboratory
Manager, Medicine and Health Service
Manager, Nursing Services
Medical Care Administrator
Medical Director
Medical Office Administrator
Medical Office Coordinator
Medical Officer
Medical Records Administrator
Medical Records Manager
Medical Records Supervisor
Mental Health Program Manager
Morgue Keeper
Nurse Administrator
Nurse Manager
Nursing Administrator
Nursing Home Administrator
Nursing Home Manager
Nursing Service Administrator
Nursing Service Director
Nutrition Services Manager
Occupational Therapy Director
Office Manager
Patient Relations Director
Program Director
Program Manager
Public Health Administrator
Public Health Director
Quality Assurance Coordinator
Quarantine Officer
Research Director
Residential Supervisor
Respiratory Therapy Director
Superintendent, Nurses
Supervisor, Department
Supervisor, Hospital
Supervisor, Medical
Venereal Disease Control Head
Volunteer Services Director
Wellness Director
Wellness Manager

  • These occupations often involve coordinating, training, supervising, or managing the activities of others to accomplish goals. Very advanced communication and organizational skills are required. Examples include librarians, lawyers, aerospace engineers, physicists, school psychologists, and surgeons.
  • A bachelor's degree is the minimum formal education required for these occupations. However, many also require graduate school. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D. (law degree).
  • Extensive skill, knowledge, and experience are needed for these occupations. Many require more than five years of experience. For example, surgeons must complete four years of college and an additional five to seven years of specialized medical training to be able to do their job.
  • Employees may need some on-the-job training, but most of these occupations assume that the person will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.

A master’s degree in one of a number of fields is the standard credential for most generalist positions as a medical or health care manager. A bachelor’s degree is sometimes adequate for entry-level positions in smaller facilities and departments. In physicians’ offices and some other facilities, on-the-job experience may substitute for formal education.

Education and training. Medical and health services managers must be familiar with management principles and practices. A master’s degree in health services administration, long-term care administration, health sciences, public health, public administration, or business administration is the standard credential for most generalist positions in this field. However, a bachelor’s degree is adequate for some entry-level positions in smaller facilities, at the departmental level within health care organizations, and in health information management. Physicians’ offices and some other facilities hire those with on-the-job experience instead of formal education.

Bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs in health administration are offered by colleges; universities; and schools of public health, medicine, allied health, public administration, and business administration. In 2007, 72 schools had accredited programs leading to the master’s degree in health services administration, according to the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education.

For people seeking to become heads of clinical departments, a degree in the appropriate field and work experience may be sufficient early in their career. However, a master’s degree in health services administration or a related field might be required to advance. For example, nursing service administrators usually are chosen from among supervisory registered nurses with administrative abilities and graduate degrees in nursing or health services administration.

Health information managers require a bachelor’s degree from an accredited program. In 2007, there were 42 accredited bachelor’s degree programs and 3 master’s degree programs in health information management according to the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education.

Some graduate programs seek students with undergraduate degrees in business or health administration; however, many graduate programs prefer students with a liberal arts or health profession background. Candidates with previous work experience in health care also may have an advantage. Competition for entry into these programs is keen, and applicants need above-average grades to gain admission. Graduate programs usually last between 2 and 3 years. They may include up to 1 year of supervised administrative experience and coursework in areas such as hospital organization and management, marketing, accounting and budgeting, human resources administration, strategic planning, law and ethics, biostatistics or epidemiology, health economics, and health information systems. Some programs allow students to specialize in one type of facility—hospitals, nursing care facilities, mental health facilities, or medical groups. Other programs encourage a generalist approach to health administration education.

Licensure. All States and the District of Columbia require nursing care facility administrators to have a bachelor’s degree, pass a licensing examination, complete a State-approved training program, and pursue continuing education. Some States also require licenses for administrators in assisted living facilities. A license is not required in other areas of medical and health services management.

Certification and other qualifications. Medical and health services managers often are responsible for facilities and equipment worth millions of dollars, and for hundreds of employees. To make effective decisions, they need to be open to different opinions and good at analyzing contradictory information. They must understand finance and information systems and be able to interpret data. Motivating others to implement their decisions requires strong leadership abilities. Tact, diplomacy, flexibility, and communication skills are essential because medical and health services managers spend most of their time interacting with others.

Health information managers who have a bachelor’s degree or postbaccalaureate from an approved program and who pass an exam can earn certification as a Registered Health Information Administrator from the American Health Information Management Association.

Advancement. Medical and health services managers advance by moving into more responsible and higher paying positions, such as assistant or associate administrator, department head, or chief executive officer, or by moving to larger facilities. Some experienced managers also may become consultants or professors of health care management.

New graduates with master’s degrees in health services administration may start as department managers or as supervisory staff. The level of the starting position varies with the experience of the applicant and the size of the organization. Hospitals and other health facilities offer postgraduate residencies and fellowships, which usually are staff positions. Graduates from master’s degree programs also take jobs in large medical group practices, clinics, mental health facilities, nursing care corporations, and consulting firms.

Graduates with bachelor’s degrees in health administration usually begin as administrative assistants or assistant department heads in larger hospitals. They also may begin as department heads or assistant administrators in small hospitals or nursing care facilities.

Nature of Work

Health care is a business and, like every business, it needs good management to keep it running smoothly. Medical and health services managers, also referred to as health care executives or health care administrators, plan, direct, coordinate, and supervise the delivery of health care. These workers are either specialists in charge of a specific clinical department or generalists who manage an entire facility or system.

The structure and financing of health care are changing rapidly. Future medical and health services managers must be prepared to deal with the integration of health care delivery systems, technological innovations, an increasingly complex regulatory environment, restructuring of work, and an increased focus on preventive care. They will be called on to improve efficiency in health care facilities and the quality of the care provided.

Large facilities usually have several assistant administrators who aid the top administrator and handle daily decisions. Assistant administrators direct activities in clinical areas such as nursing, surgery, therapy, medical records, or health information.

In smaller facilities, top administrators handle more of the details of daily operations. For example, many nursing home administrators manage personnel, finances, facility operations, and admissions while also providing resident care.

Clinical managers have training or experience in a specific clinical area and, accordingly, have more specific responsibilities than do generalists. For example, directors of physical therapy are experienced physical therapists, and most health information and medical record administrators have a bachelor’s degree in health information or medical record administration. Clinical managers establish and implement policies, objectives, and procedures for their departments; evaluate personnel and work quality; develop reports and budgets; and coordinate activities with other managers.

Health information managers are responsible for the maintenance and security of all patient records. Recent regulations enacted by the Federal Government require that all health care providers maintain electronic patient records and that these records be secure. As a result, health information managers must keep up with current computer and software technology and with legislative requirements. In addition, as patient data become more frequently used for quality management and in medical research, health information managers ensure that databases are complete, accurate, and available only to authorized personnel.

In group medical practices, managers work closely with physicians. Whereas an office manager might handle business affairs in small medical groups, leaving policy decisions to the physicians themselves, larger groups usually employ a full-time administrator to help formulate business strategies and coordinate day-to-day business.

A small group of 10 to 15 physicians might employ 1 administrator to oversee personnel matters, billing and collection, budgeting, planning, equipment outlays, and patient flow. A large practice of 40 to 50 physicians might have a chief administrator and several assistants, each responsible for different areas.

Medical and health services managers in managed care settings perform functions similar to those of their counterparts in large group practices, except that they could have larger staffs to manage. In addition, they might do more community outreach and preventive care than do managers of a group practice.

Some medical and health services managers oversee the activities of a number of facilities in health systems. Such systems might contain both inpatient and outpatient facilities and offer a wide range of patient services.

Work environment. Some managers work in comfortable, private offices; others share space with other staff. Most medical and health services managers work long hours. Nursing care facilities and hospitals operate around the clock; administrators and managers be called at all hours to deal with problems. They also travel to attend meetings or inspect satellite facilities.

Related Occupations

Sources: Career Guide to Industries (CGI), Occupational Information Network (O*Net), Occupation Outlook Handbook (OOH)

Median annual earnings of wage and salary medical and health services managers were $73,340 in May 2006. The middle 50 percent earned between $57,240 and $94,780. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $45,050, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $127,830. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of medical and health services managers in May 2006 were:

General medical and surgical hospitals $78,660
Outpatient care centers 67,920
Offices of physicians 67,540
Nursing care facilities 66,730
Home health care services 66,720

Earnings of medical and health services managers vary by type and size of the facility and by level of responsibility. For example, the Medical Group Management Association reported that, in 2006, median salaries for administrators were $72,875 in practices with 6 or fewer physicians, $95,766 in practices with 7 to 25 physicians, and $132,955 in practices with 26 or more physicians.

According to a survey by the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management, 2006 average total compensation for office managers in specialty physicians’ practices was $70,474 in gastroenterology, $70,599 in dermatology, $76,392 in cardiology, $67,317 in ophthalmology, $67,222 in obstetrics and gynecology, $77,621 in orthopedics, $62,125 in pediatrics, $66,853 in internal medicine, and $60,040 in family practice.

For the latest wage information:

The above wage data are from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey program, unless otherwise noted. For the latest National, State, and local earnings data, visit the following pages:

  • Medical and health services managers
  • Job Outlook

    Employment of medical and health services managers is expected to grow faster than average. Job opportunities should be good, especially for applicants with work experience in the health care field and strong business management skills.

    Employment change. Employment of medical and health services managers is expected to grow 16 percent from 2006 to 2016, faster than the average for all occupations. The health care industry will continue to expand and diversify, requiring managers to help ensure smooth business operations.

    Managers in all settings will be needed to improve quality and efficiency of health care while controlling costs, as insurance companies and Medicare demand higher levels of accountability. Managers also will be needed to oversee the computerization of patient records and to ensure their security as required by law. Additional demand for managers will stem from the need to recruit workers and increase employee retention, to comply with changing regulations, to implement new technology, and to help improve the health of their communities by emphasizing preventive care.

    Hospitals will continue to employ the most medical and health services managers over the 2006-16 decade. However, the number of new jobs created is expected to increase at a slower rate in hospitals than in many other industries because of the growing use of clinics and other outpatient care sites. Despite relatively slow employment growth, a large number of new jobs will be created because of the industry’s large size.

    Employment will grow fastest in practitioners’ offices and in home health care agencies. Many services previously provided in hospitals will continue to shift to these settings, especially as medical technologies improve. Demand in medical group practice management will grow as medical group practices become larger and more complex.

    Medical and health services managers also will be employed by health care management companies that provide management services to hospitals and other organizations and to specific departments such as emergency, information management systems, managed care contract negotiations, and physician recruiting.

    Job prospects. Job opportunities will be good, especially for applicants with work experience in the health care field and strong business management skills should have the best opportunities. Medical and health services managers with experience in large hospital facilities will enjoy an advantage in the job market, as hospitals become larger and more complex. Competition for jobs at the highest management levels will be keen because of the high pay and prestige.


    Medical and health services managers held about 262,000 jobs in 2006. About 37 percent worked in hospitals, and another 22 percent worked in offices of physicians or in nursing and residential care facilities. Most of the remainder worked in home health care services, Federal Government health care facilities, outpatient care centers, insurance carriers, and community care facilities for the elderly.

    • Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
    • Engineering and Technology — Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
    • Sales and Marketing — Knowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.
    • Medicine and Dentistry — Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
    • Physics — Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
    • Equipment Maintenance — Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
    • Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
    • Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
    • Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
    • Troubleshooting — Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
    • Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
    • Stamina — The ability to exert yourself physically over long periods of time without getting winded or out of breath.
    • Explosive Strength — The ability to use short bursts of muscle force to propel oneself (as in jumping or sprinting), or to throw an object.
    • Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
    • Hearing Sensitivity — The ability to detect or tell the differences between sounds that vary in pitch and loudness.
    • Core — Maintain awareness of advances in medicine, computerized diagnostic and treatment equipment, data processing technology, government regulations, health insurance changes, and financing options.
    • Core — Manage change in integrated health care delivery systems, such as work restructuring, technological innovations, and shifts in the focus of care.
    • Core — Prepare activity reports to inform management of the status and implementation plans of programs, services, and quality initiatives.
    • Core — Direct, supervise and evaluate work activities of medical, nursing, technical, clerical, service, maintenance, and other personnel.
    • Core — Establish objectives and evaluative or operational criteria for units they manage.
    • Monitoring and Controlling Resources — Monitoring and controlling resources and overseeing the spending of money.
    • Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
    • Assisting and Caring for Others — Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
    • Repairing and Maintaining Electronic Equipment — Servicing, repairing, calibrating, regulating, fine-tuning, or testing machines, devices, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of electrical or electronic (not mechanical) principles.
    • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.

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