Today’s complex, larger-than-ever health systems demand administrative professionals who have a deep understanding of the opportunities and challenges that exist in healthcare delivery, and the skills it takes to implement and oversee policies that support growth and long-term viability.
Whether they’re leading physician groups and medical practices or massive, multi-hospital medical systems, healthcare administrators must bring a pretty impressive toolkit to the job that includes knowledge in facility management, services, programs, budgets, labor, staffing, and more.
Healthcare administrators acquire this well-rounded body of knowledge through both experience in the industry and, increasingly, an MBA with a concentration in Healthcare Administration, or a similar focus in Health Services Management. In fact, an MBA in Healthcare Administration is now counted among the few credentials that will put you in a position to not just rise through the ranks in healthcare facility and systems leadership.
Even with the right graduate degree, an immediate increase in earning potential and professional opportunities is never a guarantee, but earning an MBA can definitely help stack the odds in your favor.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) publishes extensive salary data on healthcare administrators under the classification for medical and health services managers, providing a clear picture of your earning potential with a master’s versus a bachelor’s alone.
Because the BLS breaks down salaries by percentile, you can get a good idea of what that bracket is for professionals with a bachelors’ degrees and a few years of experience (25th – 50th percentile), versus what they’re earning with a master’s degree and significant experience (75th – 90th percentile).
As of May 2019, the BLS reported the following salary ranges for this profession:
- Bachelor’s (25th – 50th percentile): $76,770 – $100,980
- Master’s (75th – 90th percentile): $133,520 – $189,000
These BLS salary stats reveal that healthcare administrators with a master’s degree earn significantly more than their bachelor’s prepared colleagues. At the lower end of the pay scale, master’s-prepared healthcare administrators earn about $56,000 more annually than those with a bachelor’s, while on the higher end of the pay scale, the difference in pay closes in on $90,000/year.
Salary by Job Title For MBA-Prepared Healthcare Administration Professionals and Execs
Of course, the above numbers reflect the different positions likely held by bachelor’s prepared healthcare administrators versus those held by master’s prepared healthcare administrators. For example, those with a bachelor’s degree as their highest degree likely qualify for middle-management positions in smaller facilities, such as physician practices and home health agencies, while those with an MBA in Healthcare Administration fill upper management and executive positions in hospitals, larger healthcare systems, and more.
CEOs, CNOs, COOs, CFOs… these are just some of the C-level positions held by top healthcare administrators, and salaries and benefits packages for these professionals can be among the highest in a healthcare system.
Other job titles commonly held by healthcare administrators with an MBA in healthcare administration or management include:
- Chief compliance officer
- Chief risk officer
- Executive director
- Business development officer
- Healthcare manager
- Medical and health services manager
- Consulting health care administrator
Salary by Years of Experience for Health Administrators With MBAs
Experience plays a big part in the healthcare administration profession (and the roles for which you qualify) and is achieved both in the field and through direct clinical practice. In fact, it’s perhaps just as common for healthcare practitioners to transition into administration as it is to enter the profession through an undergraduate degree in an area like healthcare management, general business, finance, human resource management, and more.
Clinicians are able to take their experience in direct patient care and practice and lend unique insight into administrative roles, while individuals with a background in general business management or healthcare management can utilize their experience in the industry to prepare for administrative roles.
Whether you’re making the move from a clinical role or entering the field with a bachelor’s degree in healthcare management or administration, an MBA in Healthcare Administration remains the educational end goal for individuals who want to build upon their experience and assume some of the most sought-after roles in administration.
Salary by Employer Type for Healthcare Administrators Who Hold MBAs
As expected, the employer for whom you work plays a big part in how much you can make as a healthcare administrator. In general, larger and more complex healthcare systems demand healthcare administrative professionals with extensive education and experience, so you can be sure positions in middle- to upper-level management in hospitals or multi-facility systems, for example, require a master’s degree and several years of experience in the industry.
Healthcare administrators in the top salary range (75th – 90th percentile), of course, are those more likely to hold an MBA or other graduate degree and considerable experience. The top-earners were employed in state and privately owned specialty hospitals:
- Specialty hospitals – state owned: $159,700 – $208,000+
- Specialty hospitals – privately owned: $149,420 – $202,680
Healthcare administrators working for medical and diagnostic laboratories also earn some of the highest salaries in the profession: $143,030 – $208,000+.
While some healthcare employers come out ahead in terms of what they pay their MBA-prepared healthcare administrators, salaries for these professionals remain strong across the board:
- General surgical and medical hospitals – local government owned: $142,390 – $197,520
- General surgical and medical hospitals – privately owned: $146,210 – $198,690
- General surgical and medical hospitals – state government owned: $149,280 – $192,360
- Ambulatory healthcare services: $122,180 – $177,890
- Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals – state government owned: $124,640 – $164,680
- Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals – privately owned: $129,820 – $190,200
- Physicians’ offices: $124,240 – $191,650
- Dentists’ offices: $100,470 – $129,840
- Offices of other healthcare practitioners: $115,740 – $159,790
- Chiropractors’ offices: $95,500 – $159,060
- Optometrists’ offices: $77,850 – $112,430
- Offices of mental health practitioners: $137,890 – $198,570
- Offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists, audiologists: $114,430 – $151,180
- Offices of all other healthcare practitioners: $117,760 – $160,430
- Outpatient care centers: $129,050 – $188,710
- Outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers: $115,130 – $177,410
- Home health care services: $111,830 – $151,230
- Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities): $113,140 – $140,910
- Residential intellectual and developmental disability facilities: $96,790 – $126,900
- Residential mental health and substance abuse facilities: $105,340 – $155,280
- Continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for the elderly; $102,870 – $129,450
- Other residential care facilities: $100,000 – $130,700
Salary by City for MBA-Prepared Healthcare Administrators
Geographical location tends to play a big role in the earning power of healthcare administrators. Cost of living differences can play as big a role as demand does in setting the going rate for starting salaries and incentive pay. For example, master’s-prepared healthcare administrators in California earn between $163,550 and $207,610, while those in Alabama earn between $107,600 – $145,990.
Some of the top-paying states for healthcare administrators include:
- Arizona: $140,570 – $204,990
- Connecticut: $142,870 – $208,000+
- Delaware: $149,270 – $208,000+
- Washington D.C.: $166,310 – $208,000+
- Illinois: $146,320 – $208,000+
- New Hampshire: $137,240 – $194,860
- New Mexico: $136,130 – $208,000+
- New York: $170,050 – $208,000+
- Oregon: $143,610 – $196,340
- Rhode Island: $152,080 – $208,000+
- Washington: $138,570 – $197,050
The city in which you work is an even better indicator of how much you can earn as a healthcare administrator. Large, metro areas are home to some of the biggest healthcare and hospital systems, making them a clear leader in terms of pay.
For example, the pay range for master’s-prepared healthcare administrators in the larger Chicago metro area (including the cities of Naperville and Elgin) is $153,190 – $208,000+, which isn’t a surprise given this massive city is home to equally massive hospital systems like Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Rush University Medical Center, the University of Chicago Medical Center, and the Loyola University Medical Center.
Similarly, BLS stats reveal a top salary range of $164,970 – $208,000+ for master’s-educated healthcare administrators working in the Boston metro area (including Cambridge). Again, no surprise here, given that the city is home to the nationally ranked Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital which, collectively, are home to nearly 27,000 employees.
Other cities where MBA healthcare administrators at the top of the pay scale earn more than $208,000 annually include:
- Albuquerque, NM: $153,050 – $208,000+
- Ann Arbor, MI: $150,810 – $208,000+
- Boulder, CO: $153,060 – $208,000+
- Bridgeport (includes Stamford and Norwalk), CT: $190,570 – $208,000+
- Buffalo (includes Cheektowaga and Niagara Falls), NY: $133,950 = $208,000+
- Charleston, WV: $142,980 – $208,000+
- Corvallis, OR: $168,870 – $208,000+
- Danbury, CT: $150,180 – $208,000+
- Fargo, ND: $143,680 – $208,000+
- Goldsboro, NC: $135,020 – $208,000+
- Grand Junction, CO: $143,050 – $208,000+
- Grants Pass, OR: $128,140 – $208,000+
- Hammond, LA: $122,130 – $208,000+
- Hartford (includes West Hartford and East Hartford), CT: $142,880 – $208,000+
- Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE: $138,080 – $208,000+
- Parkersburg-Vienna, WV: $150,060 – $208,000+
- Peoria, IL: $145,560 – $208,000+
- Phoenix (includes Mesa and Scottsdale), AZ: $145,930 – $208,000+
- Portland (includes Vancouver, Hillsboro), OR-WA: $156,850 – $208,000+
- Rochester, NY: $151,940 – $208,000+
- Rome, GA: $125,450 – $208,000+
- Sacramento (includes Roseville, Arden and Arcade), CA: $165,300 – $208,000+
- Salinas, CA: $193,620 – $208,000+
- San Francisco (includes Oakland, Hayward), CA: $182,430 – $208,000+
- San Jose (includes Sunnyvale and Santa Clara), CA: $181,390 – $208,000+
- Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA: $126,050 – $208,000+
- Springfield, IL: $129,720 – $208,000+
- Urban Honolulu, HI: $157,000 – $208,000+
- Waco, TX: $145,960
- Winston-Salem, NC: $136,290 – $208,000+
- Worcester MA-CT: $139,080 – $208,000+
- Yuba City, CA: $169,200 – $208,000+
Resources and References
May 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics data for Medical and Health Service Managers. Figures represent national data, not school specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed March 2021.