For those looking for a career in business administration, there are few better industries to focus on than the healthcare sector. With more and more people receiving insurance and an aging population surging doctors' waiting rooms, this industry is slated for incredible growth for the foreseeable future. You can find positions in accounting, marketing, management, and marketing, among others. Healthcare is a huge umbrella and administration offers nearly anyone opportunities for a successful career.

If you are considering a business track, you might wonder if healthcare can support your salary demands. After all, you will likely amass a good bit of debt pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees. Plus, you want to simply support a family and have a few nice things. Never fear, jobs in medical management and administration offer healthy salaries.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that, in 2017, medical and health services managers earned a median salary of $98,350. These managers typically held bachelor's degrees and had less than five years’ worth of experience. To clarify any confusion around job titles or duties, the BLS notes that these workers are also called healthcare executives or healthcare administrators. There are also bound to be loads of opportunities available for you once you've graduated. The BLS projects 20 percent growth in the healthcare administration job sector between the years 2016-2026. That translates into an addition of 72,100 jobs in ten years. It's an exciting time for future healthcare administrators.

Tennessee Salary Information

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In Tennessee, the mean annual wage is $100,060 and earners in the 90th percentile command a healthy $157,980 per year. It's rather impressive to consider that salary is only one part of compensation. You might also receive a healthy benefits package, a company car, and possibly annual bonuses.

As you mull over your ultimate career decision, consider the wide range of career paths available to you in healthcare. If you decide to change paths, you can likely stay in healthcare but simply a different department. Your experience in the broader industry is likely to serve you well. The range of possibilities includes, but is not limited to:

  • Management
  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Communications
  • Public Relations
  • Public Policy
  • Information Technology
  • Software Development
  • Sales
  • Marketing

Undergrad Program Overview

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To launch your career in healthcare administration, you'll certainly need an undergrad degree. Your four years will be well spent studying both core curriculum to broaden your horizons but also the more specialized courses in your major concentration. These days you'll even be able to focus specifically on healthcare, as colleges and universities have recognized the need for such courses in their curriculum. These days, you can work towards degrees such as:

  • Bachelor of Healthcare Administration
  • Bachelor of Science – Health Administration
  • Bachelor of Science – Healthcare Management
  • Bachelor of Science – Health Services Administration
  • Bachelor of Business Administration – focus on healthcare administration

It is important that your resume reflect one of these industry-focused degrees. That is because hiring managers and HR executives will want to see that you are focused clearly on their industry. Such dedication will likely be rewarded with interviews, job offers, and top salaries.

On top of the rewards, your specialized degree will offer you the opportunity to delve deeper into the industry than a general course of study in, say, management. You'll be steeped in the jargon and culture of the field. When you research and write papers that delve deep into case studies for healthcare management and administration, or the history of the industry, etc., that will be valuable background experience for your career.

Curriculum

Your coursework will include courses that train your mind on healthcare. Once you are past your core curriculum, the major classes you take might include, but are not limited to:

  • Healthcare policy
  • Human Resources in healthcare
  • Principles of healthcare management
  • Healthcare economics
  • Information systems
  • Organizational behavior

Many colleges recommend that you flesh out your education with a minor. That is, you'll take a series of courses in another department that will compliment your healthcare coursework. For a future in healthcare administration, you'll need to consider how you wish to steer your career. That is, if you foresee a future in a public relations department, you could minor in technical writing or communications. If you're more creative, you could take art and design courses that will help you produce dynamite presentations and magazines for your hospital or university healthcare system.

Find the Best Program for You

When you start researching programs that you might like, first consider the degrees they confer to their graduates. Look for examples of healthcare-focused degrees such as those listed above. Then, take a close look at the course offerings.

Some programs might offer you more courses in accounting than marketing, or management than finance. Consider your ultimate goals and seek the best program to support them. You'll also want to start considering graduate school. Try to find out where alumni are currently studying or working. An alumni network can pay off in terms of professional and personal contacts for a lifetime. However, you also want to make sure that the alumni network includes people with similar career ambitions.

As you look over the course offerings from various schools, look for opportunities for experiential learning. This might also come under the heading internships or independent study courses. Since your academic work is aimed at the working world, these give you an opportunity to apply your knowledge in the real world.

Accreditation

When you find a program that is appealing, scrutinize it as closely as possible. One thing that you'll want to see immediately is their accreditation. This is a credential that university programs have when they've met certain criteria of an independent agency. Accrediting agencies assess programs on the basis of their faculty, course offerings, admission standards, attrition rates, and other metrics. When a program meets the agency's standards, they confer accreditation. Generally speaking, look for programs that have regional accreditation.

When you graduate with an accredited degree, you will have a much easier time finding the best jobs and applying to graduate schools will be far easier. If you matriculate with a degree from a non-accredited program, you might find that it's difficult or impossible to enroll in a graduate program without re-taking many, if not all, of your undergraduate courses.

Working While Studying

Some consider it optimal to not work while one is in school. However, sometimes your situation requires that you hold a part-time or full-time job while you complete a degree. For that reason, try to find an online program that will allow you to schedule your academic work around your more practical concerns. Alternatively, you might find a program that has both traditional classroom courses as well as online options.

Though working while pursuing an academic degree is not optimal, it can work to your advantage. That is, if you are working in a healthcare environment you might be able to apply your learning directly to your coursework. It may also be possible to garner special scholarships or other benefits from your employer, since you are studying to become a larger part of their industry.

No matter what level you work in the healthcare industry you will surely find that the experience pays off in the long-run. If, for instance, you work as an orderly, you will gain insights into the hospital's organization from the bottom up. Then, when your degree propels you up the ladder into management, you will have valuable insight. Further, your employees will have a deeper respect if you can claim such experience and not merely an academic background.

Graduate Program Overview

Graduate school is becoming more and more important. As soon as you begin an undergrad program you will want to start grooming your transcripts and overall portfolio for your later academic work. Your graduate school application packet will likely include the following, so start preparations at your earliest convenience:

  • Minimum GPA for the program of your choice
  • GRE scores
  • Letters of recommendation from professors and workplace supervisors
  • Personal statement
  • Workplace experience

As with undergrad programs, graduate schools have created specialized degree programs that will prepare you for success in healthcare administration. Like their undergrad companions, these programs will teach you specific information about your chosen industry. Your classroom and outside research time will be spent entirely immersed in the industry. Once you graduate you will be a true master in the industry. Therefore, look for programs such as:

  • Master of Healthcare Administration
  • Master of Business Administration in Healthcare Administration or Management
  • Master of Science in Healthcare Administration
  • JD/MHSA dual programs
  • Master of Public Health

While public health isn't often included in lists for students seeking work in medical management, public health experts are frequently working to guide hospitals or other health systems. They study larger trends in healthcare such as epidemiology, healthcare resource management, and community health.

Job Prospects for Tennessee Healthcare Administration Professionals

This is a brief list of positions found as of July 2018 that you might qualify for once you have a degree and/or some experience in the healthcare field:

  • Director of Quality Compliance and Risk
  • IT Systems Administrator
  • Director of Operations
  • Operations Director
  • Director of Client Service

Your academic and workplace credentials will enable you to apply with confidence to one or more such positions throughout the great state of Tennessee.

Largest Healthcare Administration Employers in Tennessee

Tennessee is full of great large and small employers for healthcare administration professionals. Here is a brief list of some of the largest:

  • HCA
  • Community Health Systems
  • Envision Healthcare
  • LifePoint Health
  • Covenant Health
  • Cumberland Medical Center
  • Tennova Healthcare

Healthcare Administration Associations in Tennessee

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As you embark on your career, consider joining one or more professional associations. These organizations can help you find professional resources, career development opportunities, and even outlets for continuing education. In a professional association, you will also find like-minded colleagues with whom to fellowship, and even leadership opportunities. Consider one of the following:

  • Tennessee Association for Healthcare Quality
  • Healthcare Finance Management Association
  • Health Management Associates
  • Healthcare Administrators Association
  • American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management

Your career starts with a single step. Make that step today!