As our population ages and more and more people gain access to insurance and healthcare, the healthcare industry grows by leaps and bounds. That growth must be fueled with new workers. Not only does the healthcare industry need clinicians and technicians to administer healthcare services, it also needs administrators and managers to keep the larger corporate structures intact. Hospital administrators, for instance, help doctors and nurses contain costs and they also might manage work schedules, oversee budgetary concerns, and more.
If you are in the great state of Texas, you might consider a career in health administration. Not everyone is cut out to work with patients, bodily fluids, and medical equipment. When you adjust your business aspirations to focus on the concerns of this vital, literally life-giving industry, you can not only earn a great income, but you will be helping your community maintain optimal health and well-being.
Salary and Job Outlook for Texas
Since there is great demand for medical managers nationwide, the profession is garnering top salaries. In 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national median salary for medical and health services managers was $98,350. The workers who garnered such a wage generally had a bachelor's degree and less than five years of experience in their field. They generally worked in hospitals, offices, and various healthcare facilities, such as nursing homes, clinics, or doctor's offices. The BLS also notes that this career path can be found under various job titles: healthcare executives, healthcare administrators, or healthcare managers, among others. Note, too, that these are general terms that might describe a specific job such as operations manager.
While the national median salary for this career is quite impressive, the salaries in Texas can be even greater. The mean wage in Texas is 107,290, and the 90th percentile for health administration professionals is $164,470. It's worth noting that an annual salary does not always reflect the full compensation package for any job. That is, your monetary earnings might be augmented by a healthy set of benefits, perks like a company car, and even a bonus structure for doing such a great job.
Additionally, the field of healthcare administration is not limited to just office managers for doctors nor hospital administrators. Indeed, if you pursue an education in health administration, you might follow any one of a number of career paths, including, but not limited to:
- Public Relations
- Public Policy
- Information Technology
- Software Development
As you work to amass the required number of credits to complete a bachelor's degree, consider getting outside of the classroom. There is nothing like practical experience to make your academic knowledge come to life. Even if you are an intern who primarily makes photocopies all day, you will be unwittingly soaking in loads of information that will later serve you well. If you keep your ears open, you are bound to learn so much about your chosen field. Plus, you might make a few contacts that will be invaluable to you later on. After all, many internships turn into jobs later on.
Undergrad Program Overview
To launch your career, you'll first want to complete an undergraduate degree that is aimed specifically towards healthcare administration. While you could possibly complete a general business program or another non-specialized degree, you will likely be better served by a focused degree. This is because a hiring manager will be drawn to your early, and continued, determination to work in healthcare. They are probably overwhelmed with generalists who are also interviewing in any number of other industries. You, on the other hand, will be able to detail your interest in the industry from your very first course in college.
There are several degree types that will steer you directly towards healthcare. These include:
- Bachelor of Health Administration
- Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration
- Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management
- Bachelor of Business Administration with a Healthcare Focus
Before you pick up your sheepskin, there are a few items to figure out. The first is which program you'll attend. There are many out there. Some are good, others are great, then there are some bad choices, too. The idea is to find the program that suits you the best and that will point you in the exact direction you desire. Keep in mind that this might not even be the so-called best program. Even if you can get into Harvard, their healthcare focus might not be the focus you desire.
When you research colleges and universities, take a close look at the courses you'll be taking for your degree. Programs with the same degree types often offer a curriculum that is not quite what you're looking for. Some may have more of a marketing focus, while some others might groom you to work in the financial offices of a healthcare corporation. Thus, it's vital to pay close attention to the course catalog, as that will determine the exact sorts of knowledge you will carry with you into the workplace.
That said, here is a brief list of courses you might take to pave the way to success in your field:
- Healthcare accounting
- Medical terminology
- Public Health Policy
- Human Resources in Healthcare
- Healthcare Economics
- Business communications
- Technical writing
- Healthcare Management
- Healthcare Informatics
During your search for the best health administration program, you might consider how online education will play a role in your education. You could opt for a full-online program where you never have to leave your laptop to complete a full four-year degree. Alternatively, you could find an online program that provides all the core classes you need, such as college algebra, English composition, etc. then transfer those credits to another school to complete your major studies.
The advantage of integrating online education into your degree is that you might be able to work while you study, or you could take courses from a far-off institution while remaining at home in Texas. If you continue working while taking college courses, try to work in your field. Even a low-impact job such as orderly in a hospital can be useful to you later on. You'll learn a lot about hospital organizations. Later, when you're a manager, your employees will respect your background and you'll also relate to them on a level not otherwise possible.
Graduate Program Overview
You should start thinking about graduate school as soon as possible. These days a graduate degree is becoming more and more expected, especially at the upper levels of management, and academia has responded. There are many degree types that cater specifically to those seeking to work in healthcare. These degrees include:
- Master of Healthcare Administration
- Master of Business Administration with a Healthcare Focus
- Master of Science in Healthcare Administration/Management
- JD/MSHA – joint law/healthcare management degree
- Master of Public Health
To qualify for the best graduate school, you will want to begin thinking about your graduate school application packet as soon as you begin your undergrad program. This may seem a bit premature, but if you start early you will be exceptionally prepared later on. Start thinking about and/or collecting the following:
- Minimum GPA for your desired program(s)
- GRE scores – keep your math and verbal skills sharp
- Letters of recommendation – cultivate the best academic and professional contacts you can
- Personal statement – continually evaluate your goals in healthcare
Healthcare Administration Job Prospects for Texas
You will not run out of opportunities to work in your field, especially in Texas. Below is a brief list of jobs listed in July 2018. Take a look at this small cross-section – you may one day hold one of these job titles:
- Executive Director – Home Health
- Director of Operations
- Administrative Director of Operations
- Healthcare Analytics
- Practice Manager
- Regional Operations Director
Largest Healthcare Employers in Texas
There are many large healthcare employers in Texas. With so many large urban centers, you are bound to find a major hospital or health system corporation who will love to have you aboard. Here is a brief list of major healthcare employers in the Lone Star State:
- Houston Methodist Hospital
- UT Southwestern Medical Center
- Baylor University Medical Center
- Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center
- Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center
- Medical City Dallas
- Baylor Scott and White Medical Center-Temple
- Seton Medical Center Austin
- Amarillo Center for Skilled Care
- Ballinger Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center
Associations for Texas Healthcare Administration Professionals
To take your career to the next level, you will want to join a professional association. These associations often will advocate for your industry at the statehouse in Austin, or even in Washington, D.C. As a member, you can meet colleagues at meetings and conferences. You might choose to lead a panel discussion or take advantage of the continuing education opportunities your favorite association offers. There are also leadership opportunities and more. Here are a few of the associations you can join:
- Texas Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration and Education
- Texas Midwest Healthcare Executives
- Medical Group Management Association of Texas
- Healthcare Financial Management Association
- Texas Association for Healthcare Quality
- American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management
The next step is up to you! Find the best educational program for yourself and launch a career today!