The Washington State Employment Security Department, Labor Market and Analysis Branch has estimated that the number of medical and health services administrators in the state is expected to increase by 21 percent in the ten-year period spanning 2012-2022. As strong as these job growth projections may be, the actual employment outlook in the field of health administration has likely improved even since this data was published in 2012. The demand for skilled leadership in the healthcare sector only continues to grow as the state’s healthcare providers look to marshal fiscal and human resources so as to effectively serve a growing number of people who now enjoy access to healthcare.
Economists in Washington’s Office of Financial Management (OFM) have estimated that since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2013, an estimated 8,500 new jobs have been created in Washington’s healthcare sector each year, and this is expected to be the case for the foreseeable future. As the state’s hospitals, integrated health systems and public health departments expand facilities and increase staffing, talented health administrators are needed now more than ever.
As demand grows for health administrators, so too do salaries and compensation packages as health services providers look to recruit top talent for executive positions. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average base salary among Washington’s health administrators was $113,470 as of 2014.
Earning a Health Administration Degree in Washington
Washington residents have a number of options to choose from when it comes to earning a degree in preparation for a career in health administration, including on-campus programs for fulltime students, and flexible online programs designed to accommodate the schedules of working professionals. A bachelor’s degree is ideal for many mid-level positions in this field, while senior-level positions are reserved for those with experience and a graduate degree.
Bachelor’s Degrees in Healthcare Administration
For undergraduate students in Washington, there are a number of different degree options to choose from:
- Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Health Administration
- Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration (BSHA)
- Bachelor of Health Administration (BHA)
These programs are most commonly made up of 120 credits. Students are required to take 60 general education credits before moving onto the major core requirements. Subjects covered in these upper-level undergraduate courses typically include the following:
- Clinical databases
- Introduction to the American healthcare system
- Community health
- Budget management
- Introduction to human resources
- Public relations and communications
There are many online programs available to students who prefer a more flexible, customizable program. For those who would rather attend a traditional on-campus program, there are also several locations to choose from throughout Washington:
- Port Angeles
Graduate Degrees in Health Administration
Graduate degrees are quickly becoming the industry standard for executive leadership positions. Students pursuing a graduate program in Washington have plenty of degree options to choose from:
- Master of Science in Health Administration (MSHA)
- Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Healthcare Administration
- Master of Science (MS) in Health Policy and Management
- Master of Health Administration (MHA)
- MHA/MBA dual degree programs
A graduate program in health administration will typically consist of 36-60 credit hours. Students usually are able to complete the coursework in about 12-24 months, depending on how many credits are taken per semester. At the very end of the program, students may be required to complete a final thesis or capstone project to showcase what they have learned before graduating.
Common topics for graduate-level courses include the following:
- Healthcare information technology
- Public health
- Leadership and management strategies
- Finance and budgeting
- Law and policy in the healthcare system
- Advanced healthcare administration
- Quality assurance and improvement
- Compliance and regulations
Graduate Program Admission Criteria
Though there may be other specific requirements depending on the school, many programs use the following criteria as a base standard for admission:
- Experience in the healthcare administration field
- Essay or statement of purpose
- Minimum undergraduate GPA
- Official transcripts
- Letters of recommendation
An undergraduate degree in healthcare administration is not required for admission into one of these graduate programs; however, students who have an undergraduate degree in a different discipline may be required to complete additional prerequisite courses before beginning their graduate program. It is common for new graduate students to hold undergraduate degrees in business administration, public health, public administration or psychology.
Graduate programs welcome students with a bachelor’s degree in a healthcare discipline such as nursing. Executive master’s degree programs are specifically designed for mid-career healthcare professionals and administrators looking to acquire the credentials necessary to move into executive leadership positions.
In addition to numerous online options, students can choose from residential degree programs located in the following cities:
- Port Angeles
Healthcare Administration Jobs in Washington
The following job descriptions were pulled from job vacancies posted by various employers throughout Washington. These descriptions can provide insight into what employers are looking for in an ideal candidate in terms of educational background and experience (These examples are shown for illustrative purposes only and should not be interpreted as job offers or as a guarantee of employment.):
Puget Sound Gastroenterology, Edmonds
- Clinic Operations Manager
- Supervises all clinic staff and operations, budgeting, and ensures compliance with all federal, state, and institutional regulations; Either 5 years of management experience, or 3 years of experience and a bachelor’s degree in business or health administration is required.
Americorps World Relief, Richland
- Refugee AmericCorps Health and Wellness Coordinator
- Compile and distribute materials for physical and mental health education, lead and recruit team members, monitor health progress of refugees by assisting with forms, intake, and scheduling; at least some undergraduate course work is required, bachelor degree in the healthcare field is preferred.
University of Washington Medical Center
- Program Operations Specialist
- Manages research staff, handles budgeting and ordering supplies, staffing and employee salaries, assists with billing department; bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration is preferred, experience in an academic medical setting is preferred.
Sonobello Body Contour Center, Bellevue
- Practice Manager
- Oversees all daily operations in the clinic, working with and supervising the rest of the medical staff, manages scheduling, ordering, and customer service; undergraduate degree in the healthcare or business field is required, plus at least three years of experience in a relevant field.
Top Employers and Professional Resources for Healthcare Administrators in Washington
Healthcare professionals working in Washington have a multitude of professional resources available to them. Shown here are healthcare associations as well as the top employers of health administrators in the state.
Washington’s Largest Employers of Health Administrators and Managers
- University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle
- Providence St. Peter Hospital, Olympia
- Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle
- Evergreen Health Medical Center, Kirkland
- Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Children’s Hospital, Spokane
- Valley Medical Center, Renton
- Capital Medical Center, Olympia
- Central Washington Hospital, Wenatchee,
- Overlake Hospital Medical Center, Bellevue
- PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center, Bellingham
- Washington State Healthcare Human Resources Association
- Healthcare Financial Management Association
- American Health Care Association
- American Hospital Association
- American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management
- American Public Health Association
- American College of Healthcare Executives
- American Medical Directors Association
- Health Facilities Management Association