Healthcare management is a rapidly growing field that offers challenging, stimulating work to people who want to help others and involve themselves in the daily practice and execution of medicine.
If you’re thinking of entering this field, you might have heard of the Healthcare Master’s in Business Administration (MBA), sometimes also referred to as the Master’s in Healthcare Administration. You’re most likely wondering not only what your job prospects are, but what you can reasonably expect to make in this field, both as a new graduate and a longtime professional.
Below, we will discuss why you might attend a program like this, what kind of salary you can look forward to if you earn your healthcare MBA, what factors affect that salary, the typical program length and classes, and some tips for making the job hunt as short and profitable as possible.
If you’re ready for a meaningful career in healthcare administration, read on.
Students decide to get MBAs in healthcare for one of two main reasons. Either they would like to increase their salaries and know that attaining a higher degree is a good way to do this, or they wish to take on more challenging work at a higher level. Most commonly, it’s both.
Although earning an MBA in any field enables you to do more fulfilling work and potentially help change the world, this is particularly true as regards healthcare.
According to Purdue University, “Healthcare administrators impact the lives of many people by providing health planning services, organizational structure, policy formation and analysis, and asset and risk management.” They add, “Careers in this field require professionalism, leadership skills, and an understanding of the complexities of healthcare delivery with its specialized language, financial structure, and politics.”
With so many skills called upon on a daily basis, and so many lives one can potentially change, it’s no wonder so many people decide to go into this field. Salary, however, is another main motivator, so let’s take a look at that next.
Salary Before and After
While there is no set salary for an MBA in healthcare, we can look to a few sources to get a general idea of how much more you might make as a healthcare administrator with an MBA.
As anyone working in healthcare knows, there aren’t too many things that are certain in this world, but earning an MBA in Health Services Management from a respected business school can all but assure you a very respectable salary. Poets & Quants looked at starting salary offers for MBA grads year over year and found that even with all the challenges the business world faced in 2020, MBAs still saw notably higher starting offers.
According to the survey, graduates from top business schools received starting offers in 2020 that were between 1 – 6.8 percent higher than in the previous year, with an overall average increase of 3.3 percent over what MBAs were offered in 2019. With an average starting offer of $124,162, that’s more than $4,000 on your side of the negotiating table on day one.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for medical and health services managers was $100,980. Most of the professionals in the field hold bachelor’s degrees. That means that within the overall range of salaries, that median figure is considerably lower than what you would expect with an MBA in Health Services Management. On the high end of the range you’ll see numbers closer to what was found in the analysis conducted by Poets & Quants. In fact, the top ten percent of healthcare administrators earned $189,000 that year.
May 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics data for Medical and Health Services Managers. Figures represent national data, not school specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed March 2021.
Factors Affecting Salary
Many factors can affect your salary, so keep them in mind when deciding what to focus on in school and where to look for jobs upon graduating. Consider the following:
- Jobs located in cities tend to pay more than jobs located in rural areas
- Jobs in the Northeast and on the West Coast tend to pay better than jobs in the South or Southeast regions, with Midwest falling somewhere in between
- Your school focus can affect your salary, both because some emphases may pay better and because some may qualify you for jobs at companies that pay their employees higher salaries. Examples include finance or leadership, for example.
- Your previous experience in the field can affect how much you earn upon leaving graduate school. For instance, if you have 3 years’ work experience and a classmate has 10, do not expect to earn the same amount that they do when graduating. While it is possible, it is not very likely.
- Your specific position will also affect your earnings, because the role you fill may be compensated more or less than other, similar roles.
- Your school or program may qualify you for higher or lower salaries, depending on the prestige, length and subject matter.
This isn’t to say that if you didn’t go to a prestigious school, want to work in a rural area and have only a few years’ worth of experience that you’re totally out of luck. To the contrary, most people who graduate with MBAs in healthcare will find meaningful, well-paying jobs.
Program Length and Typical Classes
While programs may vary by country, state, school and focus, MBA healthcare programs do share several common factors.
For one thing, all programs teach students about the many ethical, social, financial and organizational challenges that face individual healthcare workers and healthcare institutions as a whole. These are important factors to know about, because as a healthcare manager or administrator, you will need to take into account the needs, preferences and backgrounds of the people working under you and the organization paying your salary.
For another, most programs focus on covering current medical technology and practice, as well as current procedures and protocols for keeping medical records and remaining in compliance with state or federal regulations. Electronic records management is a key issue in healthcare today, and this will likely comprise some of your job. Similarly, technology management is a crucial aspect of today’s healthcare system.
Lastly, any program in healthcare management should put a high degree of emphasis on quality of patient care. As a healthcare administrator, one of the main ways you will measure success in your hospital, clinic, school or other organization will be to determine how well healthcare workers and systems are caring for patients. This is a crucial skill to develop.
Naturally, programs will focus on many other topics as well, but these are among the main objectives. Now let’s turn our attention to leveraging this new knowledge into the job and salary that are right for you.
An MBA in healthcare will prepare you for a wide-variety of well-paying roles. These include working in:
- Hospitals, clinics or private practices
- Schools or universities
- Insurance agencies
- Government organizations both in the United States and abroad
- Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), nonprofits or charities
- Health maintenance organizations (HMOs)
- Pharmaceutical or biotech industries
- Laboratories or research facilities
Obviously, this wide variety of jobs comes with a wide variety of salaries as well, but most of these jobs generally pay quite well … including nonprofits and charities, depending on the specific organization.
Naturally it may take you some time to earn the highest salary in your field or to land the kind of job that pays a top salary, but you shouldn’t let that concern you. Your starting salary upon graduating with your MBA will still be much higher than had you not gotten it. Plus, says Investopedia, your earning potential grows as you continue to work. While the average starting salary after earning an MBA is around $50,000, this turns to $58,000 after four years of work and almost $100,000 after one-two decades. Never doubt the power of experience, which is just as important after earning your MBA as before.
Job Hunting and Networking
If you’re still reading, it means you like the idea of working in the healthcare industry and helping people, you find the job prospects appealing and you’re happy with the salary figures. Awesome. Now, how do you land the job?
Start your job hunt by networking. This means talking (yes, actually talking, not just e-blasting) people in the field in which you want to work. While you’re still in school, you can start with professors, who often know a lot about what kinds of jobs you might be qualified for, especially given your particular focus.
You can also get in touch with influencers in the field, including speakers who come to your school or mid-level executives at companies you might like to work at. You can often find people on LinkedIn, and send them an email through the platform that shows them how you’re connected (if at all). This can be a very effective way to get a response.
Speaking of LinkedIn, update your profile so that it includes a professional picture and a full summary, as well as strategically placed keywords. This will help potential employers or recruiters find you when they search. Lastly, put the LinkedIn URL on your updated resume so employers can take a look at your profile, which is essentially a long-form resume.
Lastly, it’s time to interview. Always show up on time, smile and shake hands. Dress professionally, never interrupt, and ask 3 or 4 questions when the interviewer gives you the floor, but no more. Showing yourself to be accommodating and pleasant is one of the best things you can do to land the job and salary of your dreams!
To Earn or Not to Earn
In the end, the question of whether or not you should get your MBA degree in Healthcare depends on many factors, including if you see it helping your career, can afford the program and the time away from working, and if it will really contribute to your future happiness. Only you can know these things, but most people who pursue this degree do find that it helps them earn more money and do more interesting things in life and career.