Aspiring healthcare administrators who aren’t sure about the educational requirements for this career path might be pleased to know that a master’s degree is not necessary to enter the field. In fact, some smaller healthcare facilities only require that a healthcare administrator possess an associate’s degree. On the downside, however, obtaining an associate’s degree or even a bachelor’s degree will likely result in a decrease in pay and fewer job opportunities compared to those offered to candidates with an advanced degree. A master’s degree, on the other hand, can help professionals advance to leadership positions, and a higher salary, more quickly. An advanced degree may also be beneficial for those who are looking to transition into the field.

Associate of Science in Healthcare Administration

If you are looking for schools that offer an associate’s degree in healthcare administration, be prepared to search since a two-year degree is usually only offered in a baccalaureate program or higher. However, there are some business office administration programs that offer a concentration, emphasis, or specialization in medical office management. Graduates will likely be able to seek employment as a medical transcriptionist or medical secretary, and in some instances, certain healthcare administrator roles. An associate’s degree focuses on topics such as healthcare accounting, healthcare finance, healthcare management, business communication, supervision principles, medical terminology, and medical insurance billing and coding.

Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration

The typical entry-level education required of healthcare administrators is a bachelor’s degree, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration takes four years to complete, but it is not considered to be an “advanced degree.” However, earning a bachelor’s degree increases the likelihood of better employment opportunities and a higher salary than those offered to someone with an associate’s degree. A bachelor’s degree curriculum focuses on topics such as healthcare economics, medical records management, personnel management, public relations, medical ethics, accounting and finance, operations management, and marketing.

Graduates with this degree may be able to pursue a career as a healthcare administrator in smaller healthcare facilities. If you wish to work in a larger facility, an advanced degree will likely be necessary. However, other popular career paths that graduates may pursue with a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration degree include health information manager, assistant department head, and assistant administrator.

Advanced Degrees in Healthcare Administration

Earning an advanced degree such as a master’s degree in healthcare administration typically requires one to three years of additional education following the bachelor’s degree. With an advanced degree, a healthcare administrator can expect a pay increase by at least 20 percent, making this credential worth considering when you are thinking about your career goals. The typical MHA degree consists of 32 to 64 credits of coursework, and students taking a full-time course load can complete most online master’s in healthcare administration degrees within two years. Coursework in an advanced program focuses on topics such as disease prevention, advanced health research, biostatistics, and health program evaluation.

When it’s all said and done, when considering a career as a healthcare administrator, students will benefit more from earning a master’s degree. However, if you do not have the time, money, or desire to pursue an advanced degree, a bachelor’s or associate’s degree will suffice for some healthcare administration positions, but this will depend on each potential employer.

See also: Top 50 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Healthcare Administration 2018