Healthcare Management vs Healthcare Administration: Career ROI

Written by Grad School Center Team We are a passionate team of experienced educators and advisors at, dedicated to guiding students through their graduate education journey. Our experts, with advanced degrees across various disciplines, offer personalized advice, up-to-date program information, and practical insights into application processes.

Reviewed by David Krug David Krug is a seasoned expert with 20 years in educational technology (EdTech). His career spans the pivotal years of technology integration in education, where he has played a key role in advancing student-centric learning solutions. David's expertise lies in marrying technological innovation with pedagogical effectiveness, making him a valuable asset in transforming educational experiences. As an advisor for enrollment startups, David provides strategic guidance, helping these companies navigate the complexities of the education sector. His insights are crucial in developing impactful and sustainable enrollment strategies.

Updated: February 28, 2024, Reading time: 9 minutes

Healthcare Management vs Healthcare Administration - featured image

Being in the healthcare industry, either as a healthcare manager or a healthcare administrator, brings excellent career returns on investment for many reasons. For one thing, the median annual wage for management occupations is $107,360 (May 2022), at least twice the median annual pay for all occupations.

The projected job growth of approximately 1.1 million openings, on average, per year means plenty of career advancement opportunities. Furthermore, medical and health services managers earned $104,830 in median annual wage (May 2022), with a projected job growth of 28% or about 54,700 openings per year, on average (2022-2032). 

For another thing, the US healthcare industry is among the world’s largest, with healthcare spending accounting for more than 18.3% of the country’s 2021 gross domestic product (GDP). With an aging population, digital transformation, and workforce talent challenges, among other factors, the healthcare industry’s growth is inevitable, too, meaning more job opportunities for qualified healthcare managers and administrators.

There’s also the fact that the healthcare industry has numerous sectors, such as health insurance, healthcare marketing, and healthcare technology, where healthcare managers and administrators can find their niche and thrive. 

While Healthcare Management and Healthcare Administration are terms often used interchangeably, these are two different fields. Knowing their similarities and differences will contribute to your informed choice between these two related if distinct, fields. 

Their main similarities are: 

As for their main differences: 

A Quick Look at Their Differences

Read on for more information about the differences in salaries, job roles and responsibilities, and education and certification requirements between Healthcare Management and Healthcare Administration as academic programs and career pathways:

Healthcare ManagerHealthcare Administrator
Average Annual Salary$78,863$81,105
Projected Job Growth28% (2022-2032) or about 54,700 openings/yearSame
Licenses/Certifications RequiredOptionalOptional
Primary DutiesHealthcare managers are responsible for strategic planning, interdepartmental planning, and overall management of the various functions within the healthcare organization. Their job involves a long-term mindset.Healthcare administrators focus more on the day-to-day operations of the specific functions assigned to them. These can include operations management, finance management, or quality assurance.

What Does a Healthcare Manager Do?

What Does a Healthcare Manager Do - Image

Healthcare managers are responsible for the effective and efficient operations of the entire healthcare organizations they work for but with a long-term perspective. Their job requires a balanced approach toward quality patient care and outcomes on one hand and financial viability and efficient operations on the other hand.

If you become a healthcare manager, your list of roles and responsibilities is extensive and varied. But these will also depend on the size of the healthcare organization you work for – if it’s a small organization, then you will likely oversee the entire organization; if it’s a large organization, you will probably be assigned a specific department, such as human resources, or service area.

In general, your roles and responsibilities can include:

With such crucial roles and responsibilities, the best healthcare managers must possess strong analytical and critical thinking skills, problem-solving and decision-making skills, and communication skills. Their job also demands strong technical skills that will complement their leadership skills.

Healthcare Manager Education and Career Paths

If you already have a bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Management and Healthcare Administration or a job in Business Management, you’re on the right track. Your coursework, which included finance management, strategic management, and operations management, should have prepared you for the challenges that come with healthcare management in general.

A Master’s in Healthcare Management is a definite competitive advantage! Most healthcare organizations prefer applicants for healthcare management positions with a master’s degree in healthcare administration (MHA), a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a healthcare leadership focus, or a public health (MPH) with a healthcare management concentration.

Earning a master’s degree in any of these fields demonstrates your commitment to leadership and your advanced knowledge and skills with relevant applications in healthcare management.

Likewise, earning a professional certification isn’t required for career advancement purposes, but it’s strongly recommended for ambitious healthcare management professionals. The best include Certified Professionals in Healthcare Quality, Certified Healthcare Financial Professionals, and Certified Medical Practice Executives.

If healthcare management is your chosen career path, you will start with entry-level administrative roles with your bachelor’s degree. As you gain more practical work experience, you can apply for entry-level management roles like an office manager or a clinic supervisor.

Your master’s degree and your extensive work experience, perhaps with a professional certification thrown in, will open doors of opportunities for mid-level management and executive leadership positions.

A Career in Healthcare Management is for you if:

A Career in Healthcare Management is not a great fit if you:

What Does a Healthcare Administrator Do?

What Does a Healthcare Administrator Do - Image

Healthcare administrators are at the frontline of the day-to-day operations of the healthcare organizations they work for. Think of them as the behind-the-scenes face of healthcare while the doctors, nurses and clinical staff members are its frontline faces. 

While your specific day-to-day duties will depend on your job title and your assigned functions, you can expect the following: 

With such varied roles and responsibilities, the best healthcare administrators possess technical knowledge and skills related to healthcare laws, medical terminology and regulations, administrative functions, and spreadsheets and databases. Their job also demands strong time management, leadership, and communication skills.

Healthcare Administrator Education and Career Paths

Again, a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration, healthcare management, or business management is an excellent start toward a successful healthcare administration career. However, there are also healthcare administrators who possess bachelor’s degrees in allied healthcare professions, such as nursing, who decide to change careers.

In both cases, a Master’s in Healthcare Administration is a competitive advantage when applying for healthcare administration jobs. The MHA, MBA and MPH degrees are just as valuable in healthcare administration as it is in healthcare management. 

With a Doctor of Healthcare Administration degree, graduates are expected to be adept in the healthcare decision-making processes and enhance the delivery of healthcare services. DHA programs develop collaborative, leadership, and research skills.

Of course, extensive and relevant professional work experience is a must to be considered for leadership positions in the complex and competitive healthcare industry.

As with healthcare managers, healthcare administrators can earn a professional certification to demonstrate their commitment to lifelong learning and their leadership expertise. The best include:

A Career in Healthcare Administration is for you if:

A Career in Healthcare Administration is not a great fit if you:

Healthcare Management vs Healthcare Administration - fact

In conclusion, a career in healthcare management and administration means excellent pay, career advancement opportunities, and fulfillment in contributing to society. But it has its share of challenges that demand resilience, so think carefully about your choice!

Additional Resources:

We’re certain of one thing—your search for more information on picking the best graduate degree or school landed you here. Let our experts help guide your through the decision making process with thoughtful content written by experts.