Healthcare administrators play large roles in the field of medicine, providing leadership that determines the future direction for not only the medical facilities they manage but the entire healthcare system. What is required for this dynamic career in terms of education, certification and/or licensure requirements? Learn what it takes to become a healthcare administrator.

Education Requirements

An individual interested in becoming a healthcare administrator must have at least a bachelor's degree, which usually takes four years. Those interested in becoming medical and health service managers generally complete bachelor's degree in health administration programs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics , many also have master's degrees in health services, business administration and public health.

To complete the master's degree program, students generally complete up to three years of study, as well as up to a year of supervised administrative experience. Course topics may include hospital management, law and ethics, health economics, health information systems and accounting. Depending on the school and program, the student may also specialize in a specific type of medical facility, such as nursing home, hospital or medical center.

What About Licensure or Certification?

Healthcare administrators who are working in nursing care facilities are required to be licensed in all states, although the requirements vary from state to state, according to the BLS. Those working in assisted-living facilities may be required to be licensed, depending on the state in which they work. The one thing consistent in most states is that healthcare administrators must complete a state-approved training program, have at least a bachelor's degree and pass a licensing or certification examination. Prospective healthcare administrators should check with their state's requirements prior to finalizing their career choice.

What Does Certification Entail?

To be become eligible for certification, an individual must pass an approved training program. Typically, training programs should be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education. Professional certification can be obtained by passing certification exams through agencies such as the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management and the American College of Health Care Administrators and the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management.

The AAHAM is a professional organization committed to promoting healthcare administrative management. One of the main goals of the AAHAM is to promote professional development among its members. They do this by offering monitoring legislative regulations, offering seminars and conferences, continuing education, professional certification and helping with employment in this field. Students pursuing this career can find helpful information here to help prepare for the certification exam.

The field of healthcare administration offers various career possibilities and chances for advancement. The BLS indicates that these professionals should expect a very good employment growth for 2010-2020. Individuals in this career can choose various areas of specialization, which also include certifications. There are various types of certification available, such as the Executive Certification (CRCE), Professional Certification (CRCP), Specialist Certification (CRCS), among others. Certain certifications are aimed at specific specialized areas. While certification may not be required, those who obtain certifications generally see better employment and earning potential.