It's not easy to find a career path these days. Pursuing college is a worthy and noble pursuit, but sometimes a degree creates more questions than it answers. If you study a traditional, general course in, say, Management, you might be overwhelmed with options when you graduate. Every industry needs managers and it’s hard to know which industry is most ideal.
If you study health administration, you'll find that many of your questions are answered. The healthcare industry is growing like gangbusters and it has so much to offer hardworking professionals. From outstanding salaries to unbeatable benefits, if you make a career in healthcare administration, you will surely be happy and satisfied for the duration of your career.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics bolsters these claims. Their research shows that in 2019 the median national salary for medical managers was $98,350. Typically, these professionals had a bachelor's degree and less than five years’ experience. Not only do these jobs pay well, but there is an increasing demand. Between 2016 and 2026, the BLS projects that there will be 20 percent more positions eager for educated, motivated workers.
Vermont Health Admin Salary
In Vermont, the annual mean wage for 2017 was $96,660. The 90th percentile of medical managers earned a wage of $144,520 and the 50th percentile earned $83,580. These are rather healthy salaries, particularly for a state the size of Vermont. Consider, too, that salaries only account for one aspect of a compensation package. When you're working, you'll likely find ample healthcare benefits, and other perks, too. Simply pulling down such a great salary in that beautiful state would be ample compensation for so many.
On the job, healthcare administrators coordinated medical services for patients and ensured the smooth operation of organizations that ranged in size from an entire hospital to a small private medical practice. They are the ones whose job it is to stay on top of new healthcare laws and policies, as well as staying on the pulse of new medical technology.
As you look deeper into the field of healthcare administration, you'll likely find that there are so many different sorts of opportunities. The healthcare industry is a (rather large) microcosm of the larger business world. That is, you can find positions in IT, marketing, communications, finance, and sales. Indeed, nearly any sort of position you might find in the wider economy can be found in healthcare. The great news is that you can get a degree that will focus your career directly to that industry.
Undergraduate Degree Overview
To launch a stellar career, you will need an undergraduate degree. While you can always major in a general field, such as marketing, if your degree reflects a clear focus on healthcare, you are likely to find better success in the job market. That is because hiring managers love to see entry-level applicants who are driven to succeed in the career paths they offer. Your degree will demonstrate a longstanding focus on the field. Look for programs that offer degrees such as:
- Bachelor of Healthcare Administration
- Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration
- Bachelor of Business Administration – with a Healthcare concentration
When you pursue one of these degrees, you will receive knowledge and skills that you can directly apply when you are hired by a medical practice, hospital, or university health system, among many other opportunities. These programs pepper their curriculum with courses such as:
- Medical terminology
- Healthcare policy
- Regulations in healthcare
- Healthcare marketing
- Public relations in healthcare
- Healthcare finance and accounting
- Public health
- Healthcare management
- Supply chain management
On top of your time in a real-world or online classroom, try to augment your studies with some experiential learning. That is, check to see if your program supports internships. There is no better way to put your knowledge to the test than by working in a real professional environment. Though you might spend a lot of time making photocopies, you will one day see how those tasks are a valuable way to acclimate yourself to the world of healthcare. Further, if you prove yourself in an internship, you will likely receive rewards in terms of letters of recommendation and even job offers.
One key detail you should pay close attention to is your chosen school's accreditation. This might sound like a foreign concept, but it is vital to your continued success. That is because accreditation is a process by which an independent agency assesses an academic program to ensure that it is of the best quality. This will impact you when you apply to graduate school, attempt to transfer credits to another college or university, or even get a job in your field.
When an accrediting body assesses your school, they scrutinize the curriculum, faculty, admissions, attrition rates, and more. If your program passes muster, it will receive regional accreditation. You should look for nothing less than that. If you are unsure whether a program is fully accredited, you might query your dream graduate school and ask them if they would accept a transcript from that institution.
Online or Traditional
When you look for the best healthcare administration undergrad program, you need to have a good idea of whether or not you want to study on a traditional campus or online. Keep in mind that to attend your dream school you might need to move very far away from home. Though this might not be a problem for you, you could save yourself some time and energy by taking online courses from that school. Though this is not possible in every school, investigate to see what your options are. It could be that you can take all or part of your coursework from your hometown, while your classroom is a continent away.
Graduate Degree Overview
Graduate degrees are increasingly common in our contemporary workforce. Some say that soon a graduate degree will be as important as a bachelor's degree was a decade ago. For that reason, you should start thinking about grad school from the moment you begin your undergrad degree. While that might seem like overkill, the sooner you start preparing for your graduate admissions process the easier it will be in the long run.
First, you will want to know what area you wish to focus on. This might be something that evolves over time. You may be dead-set on finance, but soon discover that marketing is your true passion. However, once you determine the trajectory that will suit you best, start looking at the best graduate programs to support your goals. As you do this research, consider these aspects of your future admissions packet:
- Minimum GPA – try to exceed this minimum admissions requirement
- GRE scores – consider taking a preparation course
- Transcripts – once you graduate, it will help to have a copy on hand. You can always request official, sealed documents when the time comes
- Letters of recommendation – your favorite professors and supervisors will be happy to provide these
- Work experience – keep records of your duties, job titles, employers, and supervisors
Once you're all ready to apply, you might consider what specific degree you'd like to pursue. Just like in undergrad, you will have a few choices. If you need help deciding which specific course to pursue, take a look at the professionals you aspire to emulate. What degrees do they have? You might even ask them. Alternatively, you might bring this up the next time you meet with your professional association. Online discussion boards are also a great place to discuss this topic. Everyone loves espousing their opinions on the best degrees, and programs. In the meantime, you will probably find the following options for degree paths:
- Master of Healthcare Administration
- Master of Science in Healthcare Administration
- JD/MHA – dual law/healthcare degree
- Master of Public Health
Considering that most programs require that you work for a few years after your undergrad coursework, you will have ample time to determine exactly what area you wish to master. As you work, you should consider joining a professional association that will put you in contact with other administration professionals. This fellowship will expose you to new possibilities and opportunities. Further, your association might offer courses for continuing education. These seminars and courses will stimulate your thinking even more, enabling you to steer your career with a head full of information.
Job Prospects for Vermont
Vermont is one of our smallest states, but you can still find great opportunities. The following is a brief list of jobs posted in early August 2018. Consider these as food for thought as you work the happy road towards your first entry-level health administration position:
- Associate Executive Director
- Director II Internal Medicine
- Pharmacy Board Executive Officer
- Deputy Chief Financial Officer
- Benefits Programs Specialist
- Healthcare Administration Subject Matter Expert
- Health and Wellness Coordinator
- Director – Home Health Services
Healthcare Administration Associations in Vermont
Membership in a professional association could very well make the difference in your career. These organizations facilitate fellowship, leadership opportunities, and continuing education. Along the way, you'll make personal and professional contacts that will help you develop in ways you hardly thought possible. Here's a short list of associations you might join:
- Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems
- American Association of Health Care Administrative Management
- American Medical Directors Association
- American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration
Health Administration is a growing and exciting field. Once you find that perfect undergrad degree program, you will be on your way! Your future starts now.