Your career is underway. You've completed academic degrees, you've landed great jobs. However, you are now seeing the phenomenal opportunities in healthcare. You might already be in healthcare administration but are looking to take your career to the next level.
One way to avoid having to do a degree all over again is to work towards a certificate in health administration. A certificate program will focus you specifically on the healthcare courses you need. If, for instance, you already have an MBA, you can add a healthcare administration certificate which will be the equivalent of focusing in the field when you did the initial degree.
A certificate program is a great way to add academic credentials to your resume without returning for a full degree program. Certificates take less time to complete and can be less strenuous. However, that's not to say that they're easy. They are not easy, but you won't have to take a lot of general courses that don't specifically relate to you focus – health administration. If you have a degree like one of the following, adding a healthcare administration certificate might be the exact thing you need to land a promotion or a whole new career:
- Business Administration
- Nursing or another clinical field
- Human Resources
- Public Health
- Public Administration
Keep in mind that there are two levels of certificate: post bachelor's and post-graduate. If your bachelor's degree was not specifically aimed towards healthcare, you will likely want to delve into the nuts and bolts of the industry. A post-baccalaureate certificate will likely offer you the specific parts of an undergraduate healthcare administration program without all of the core curriculum. Post-graduate certificate programs will be similar in that they take the healthcare-specific courses you might complete in, say, an MBA program and focus on those. Post-grad certificates often focus on finance, economics, and concerns related to operations.
What is a Post Degree Healthcare Admin Certificate?
A post-degree healthcare administration certificate is an additional academic credential that you can add to your resume. It indicates that you have taken courses specifically aimed at healthcare administration. Some topics include, but are not limited to:
- Healthcare economics
- Information systems
- Medical ethics
- Healthcare policy
- Regulations in healthcare
- Human resources
- Organizational leadership
- Risk management
- Strategic planning
- Regulatory compliance
It is important to bolster your resume with courses specific to the healthcare industry for a few reasons. First, when you acquire the specialized knowledge from a certificate program you will be better able to handle the realities of a job in healthcare administration. You will be primed for your daily work. Second, your resume will stand out when you apply to healthcare institutions. While a marketing degree might be very helpful, when you add a certificate in healthcare administration, hiring managers will take notice.
Not only will they perk up because there are specific issues and language that are exclusive to healthcare, but because they like to see candidates who are dedicated to their industry. They figure that every generalist who sends them a resume is probably also applying in other industries. Unless a person with a general degree already has experience in health administration, they are not likely to be considered very strongly.
Career and Salary Outlook
There are two good reasons to enroll in a certificate program for healthcare administration: salary and job outlook. The healthcare sector is growing by leaps and bounds and it pays its employees quite well. You are bound to be very happy with both your day to day job duties, but also with how well it sustains you and your family over the long-term.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical and health services managers earned $98,350 in 2017. The typical entry level education for these workers was a bachelor's degree and they had fewer than five years’ worth of experience. To clear up any confusion, the BLS stipulates that these workers are also known as healthcare administrators and healthcare executives. The BLS also lists comparable professions alongside their 2017 salaries:
- Administrative services managers – $94,020
- Computer information systems management – $139,220
- Financial managers – $125,080
- Human resources managers – $110,120
- Insurance underwriters – $69,760
- Medical records and health information technicians – $39,180
- Purchasing managers – $66,610
- Social and community service managers – $64,100
- Top Executives – $104,700
The average of these salaries comes to $90,310, which is approximately $8,000 less than the median salary for healthcare administrators. Consider, too, that not only will you receive a healthy salary, but that you will likely have other benefits included in your compensation package. Since you will be in the healthcare industry, it's likely that you and your family will receive ample healthcare benefits, on top of bonuses and other perks.
There is also good reason to believe that the industry will continue growing and adding more and more jobs. The BLS projects that growth in the industry will be "much faster than average" and will add 72,100 more jobs in the years between 2016-26. That is 20 percent growth, which is phenomenal. Thus, if you are considering upgrading your career, the healthcare industry is the place to do so. If you're in another industry with a general degree, all you need to do is attain a certificate in healthcare administration and get to work. Your previous experience in business or management will likely be a real benefit when you focus on healthcare.
Before you start a job search, it's important to position yourself for success. That means attaining the right kinds of experience and academic credentials. You also need certain personality characteristics and to generally be a good fit for the healthcare culture.
While you might not have a lot of experience right now, you can always highlight certain skills that will translate to healthcare administration. If you are just getting started and are going back to school for your certificate, this might be the right time to work in an entry-level position within the healthcare industry. You might find a position in administration such as clerical work or you might work on the clinical side as nurse's aide or an orderly.
Though these jobs might not be what you aspire to, they will put you in the environment you need to be in. Along the way you will meet people who will help you advance later down the line. For instance, your boss will probably be a healthcare administrator. The human resources professionals who handle your hiring and your benefits are also in positions similar to what you aim for. Make the most of your interactions with them and they will remember you later. If possible, arrange informational interviews with them at lunchtime. During these focused, yet informal, chats, you can let them know that you are seeking a healthcare administration certificate. This will plant seeds that you can harvest later.
Once you have completed your certificate program, you can work on capitalizing on your experience. Even if you are working a comparable job in another industry, you can show hiring professionals how your work experience adds to your fresh academic knowledge. This blending of worlds might be what they are looking for. That is, you will bring a fresh perspective into the organization, one that will benefit everyone.
As for your personality, hiring managers are likely looking for someone with leadership qualities. These are things that anyone can develop, and they come primarily from confidence. Attaining a fresh credential and adding that to your prior experience can bolster your confidence. When you know that you have a mastery of what the job entails, that will show. Your interview responses will reflect competence, and your physical posture will leave no doubt in anyone's mind.
Your certificate program's curriculum is very important. Prior to enrolling, make sure that the courses reflect your long-term goals. Some programs might focus on finance and economics, where you might be more of a marketing or management whiz.
Many certificate programs are comprised of a set group of courses with little, if any, room for choice. You'll likely only take five or six courses, however. Those courses can cover topics such as:
- Population health management
- Healthcare ethics
- Financial accounting in healthcare
- Managerial accounting in healthcare
- Contemporary health systems
- Information management
Before you apply to a certificate program, take a thorough personal inventory to determine your strengths, weaknesses, and goals. Even if the application doesn't ask for it, write yourself a personal statement of purpose. Then, when you assess each program's curriculum, you can do so through a strong, focused filter.
Choosing the Right School and Program
You want to choose the right school and program for you and your career. Keep in mind that not every program is created equal. Each one will have its own unique set of courses and focuses. For that reason, you want to make sure those things will support your aspirations.
Once you've found a few programs that support your goals, make sure that they are accredited. Accreditation will ensure that the program is reputable and will fully support you. That is, a program might sound perfect, but if they aren't accredited your hard work will not get you very far.
This is because other schools will look for accreditation when you apply for more education. Employers, too, will want to know that your credentials are accredited before they start paying you to support their organizations. For instance, if you have a certificate from a non-accredited institution, your base of knowledge might not be up to par. If, for instance, you are running a hospital department with incomplete or faulty knowledge, that organization might fall on hard times.
When you are investigating programs, research their accrediting agency. That agency should be listed with the Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. If it their program is signed off on by one of those institutions, you are bound to be in good shape.
Online or Traditional Courses
One of the big questions you'll face is whether to take courses online or in a traditional classroom. Both have advantages, which will largely depend on you and your current situation. If you are working full-time and have little time, an online program will likely work best for you. However, there are also traditional programs that offer courses at nights and on the weekend. If you need the particular experience of sitting in a desk and working with a real-world instructor, this might be an option for you.
You might also find that your local university will let you take some courses online and others in person. These days, some universities insist that you take a certain percentage of your coursework online.
If you decide on an online program, check to see whether the courses are asynchronous or not. Those that are asynchronous will not ask that you log on at any particular time. Other courses/programs might be structured so that you must log in to take part in "live" discussions or to "attend" lectures.
Once you've found the program that fits your needs, you are on your way. In fact, if you've read this far, your new career has already started. The future starts now!