Top Paying Jobs in Healthcare Administration

What Are Some of the Highest Paying Careers for Healthcare Admins?

The healthcare industry is a wide-ranging field that virtually mirrors every aspect of the greater economy, but in a healthcare context. Those who work under the umbrella of healthcare administration hold a wide array of positions that include IT professionals, marketers, managers, and hospital administrators, to name a few. To get ahead in any of these, you will first need a dynamite education. Your undergraduate and graduate work should result in a healthcare related degree. From there, you can advance your salary and position by attaining greater certifications, working hard, and gaining the experience that will show that your degrees are paying off for your employers.

1. VP / Chief Nursing Officer (CNO)

Average Income: $170,900

A chief nursing officer is a top-level administrator in a hospital or other health system organization. Frequently CNOs have risen up from working as an RN but then transitioned into administration through such positions as charge nurse, program director, and director of nursing. To attain the position, CNOs often have graduate degrees in healthcare or business administration, either an MBA with a healthcare focus or a Master of Health Administration.

2. Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Non-Profit

Average Income: $105,800

A chief executive officer in a healthcare setting must be well-versed in the healthcare environment as well as thoroughly versed in issues related to business and finance. CEOs typically have decades of administrative experience in healthcare or other not-for-profit organizations. They are responsible for devising and implementing a vision and trajectory for the organization. A CEO should have a strong grasp of finance, economics, and public health policy that will inform how they guide the health system organization. Aspiring healthcare CEOs should have an MBA with a concentration in healthcare administration. Alternatively, a Master of Health Administration from a well-respected program should suffice.

3. Chief Operating Officer (COO), Non-Profit

Average Income: $94,400

COOs oversee the operations of their firm or organization. This is a top-level administrative position that often is achieved after decades in the field. For those in healthcare, starting in the clinical setting might prove invaluable as that will cement a foundation in the fundamental mission of the non-profit. An advanced degree in healthcare administration will also be very helpful, as COOs must be able to work with and create budgets, review finances, coordinate with clinicians, and spearhead new initiatives in the organization. In the healthcare setting, they must also be aware of all regulations regarding the health and safety of their patients and employees. COOs also report to the CEO of their organization as well as the Board of Directors.

4. Clinical Informatics Manager

Average Income: $89,700

This position may seem familiar to IT professionals, but it is focused clearly on clinical medical databases and operations. To qualify for such a position, professionals need to have approximately five years of experience, at least a bachelor’s degree, and evidence of leadership experience or ability. Knowledge of medical terminology and the needs of clinical professionals is vital, as informatics professionals must be able to translate clinical data into formats accessible by everyone on the clinical team. A degree in healthcare informatics as well as working knowledge of current hardware and software packages is also part of the skillset required for this position.

5. Nursing Director

Average Income: $88,600

Nursing directors are often nurses who have moved up into an administrative position. Often the minimum requirements for the job involve a nursing license and several years of experience that demonstrates excellent patient care as well as administrative acumen. In fact, many nursing directors have been program directors or charge nurses prior to attaining this upper-level, managerial position. Nursing directors may have also been advanced practice nurses or may have been generalists, but they have the knowledge and flexibility to help relatively unfamiliar areas develop and grow.

6. Director of Nursing

Average Income: $84,000

Nursing directors often oversee the entire nursing staff in a hospital or large clinic. They might help design programs and protocols for their nurses, but most of the day-to-day functions of a given program area will likely be overseen by its program director. Directors must have a firm grasp on best practices for their nurses as well as an eye for budgeting, staffing, and other administrative features of the job. To qualify for this position, most nursing directors have nursing licenses and degrees. Many have also returned to school for graduate or undergraduate training in healthcare administration.

7. Clinical Nurse Manager

Average Income: $81,200

Clinical nurse managers are often nurses who have accrued the experience and even academic training to move up into administration. To excel at this job, clinical nurse managers must have a thorough working knowledge of their nurses’ duties as well as the administrative skill to ensure that their workers retain their standard of excellence. While it’s not a requirement to have worked in the precise setting that they manage, it is highly preferred that an aspiring nurse manager have worked as an RN for a significant amount of time. Nurse managers need to be well versed in regulatory compliance issues regarding health, safety, and patient privacy issues.

8. Program Director, Healthcare

Average Income: $80,600

A program director is in charge of a specific area in a hospital or clinic. They oversee the daily operations and sometimes have a direct supervisory role over underlings. PDs occasionally work as case managers and will ensure that the program is in compliance with health and safety regulations. PDs may also coordinate with outside vendors or other resource providers to augment the program’s functionality. Many program directors have moved into their position from a clinical job, perhaps after returning for schooling in healthcare administration.


Salary information provided by PayScale and BLS.
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*A degree does not guarantee this will be your salary, this is an average from Payscale and BLS.

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