The 11 Hardest-to-Fill Healthcare Management Jobs—And How an MBA Helps Land Them

A graphic illustration of two young people carrying a giant blue bottle of medicine, walking across rows of similar bottles.

There was a time when doctors and other health services providers could handle office management while taking care of patients, but those days are long over. Increased regulatory oversight, evolving technologies and changing consumer expectations have made staffing, accounting, records-keeping, facilities management and marketing much more complicated. Today, healthcare management—sometimes called medical services management or healthcare administration—is a standalone discipline attracting highly trained professionals with years of experience in environments where there's no room for error.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts demand for healthcare managers will rise over the next decade at a rate much faster than average. Private practices, hospitals, outpatient providers and medical networks will create more than 100,000 new healthcare management and health administration jobs.

Whether employers can find qualified candidates to step into those positions remains to be seen. Some healthcare roles are more straightforward than others—but the most challenging roles to fill are those designed for professionals with years of management experience and hybrid MBAs with healthcare management specialization. Case Western Reserve University's Online MBA in Healthcare Management from the Weatherhead School of Management combines both disciplines.

Once you graduate, you'll have the qualifications necessary to work in a broad range of clinical and non-clinical healthcare management roles—and some of the highest-paying jobs in healthcare.

Why Is the Demand for Healthcare Management Professionals So High?

Demand for managers and administrators in medicine is multiplying for numerous reasons. There's the ever-increasing complexity of the U.S. healthcare system. New advancements in patient care technology, changing rules and regulations, and an unstable health insurance market make it challenging to run medical facilities efficiently without experienced managers at the helm. Medical providers and networks also have to deliver healthcare services to a consumer base with shifting wants and needs. The U.S. population is growing and aging, and demand for responsive care, preventive care and nursing care is rising. People expect more from their healthcare providers than ever before, but they want to pay less. And tech disruption in healthcare may drive further demand as providers and networks realize they need dedicated administrators to run telehealth and other programs involving smart MedTech tools.

"Success in hospital administration requires leadership, communication, quality-management and strategic planning skills—all of which administrators can learn in a healthcare-focused MBA program."

An MBA with a focus in healthcare management is an asset in this changing landscape—and not just because BLS data suggest that medical and health services managers with master's degrees have the most robust job prospects. To successfully manage a medical practice, hospital, healthcare network or pharmaceutical firm, you need to do more than just make intelligent business decisions. You have to weigh the costs of care against outcomes, day in and day out. You have to keep patient privacy, safety and satisfaction in mind at all times. You need to understand the regulatory landscape that shapes how organizations provide care to diverse populations. And you have to lead teams that include business people, clinicians, technicians and researchers.

Case Western Reserve's online MBA in healthcare management trains aspiring leaders to succeed in the kinds of roles in health administration that routinely pay more than $100,000 per year. The university's multidisciplinary program blends the traditional MBA curriculum with a cutting-edge, health-focused core that addresses the most pressing challenges healthcare managers face. Specialization courses account for approximately 40 percent of the MBA program’s credits.

Why Earn an Online MBA from CWRU?

The uniquely focused curriculum and competitive tuition are two of many reasons to pursue an MBA online at Case Western Reserve. Maximum flexibility is another. Ambitious healthcare professionals come to the university to boost their earning potential and advance into more fulfilling roles without disrupting their lives. Online MBA students spend just 60-90 minutes per course each week in live classes and most of the rest of their time on asynchronous coursework delivered by Case Western Reserve’s business, medical, law and engineering schools. Students in the online MBA with a healthcare management focus get plenty of support and never feel disconnected.

Leveraging its proximity to the Cleveland Health-Tech Corridor, the program builds virtual interviews and summer residencies into the online MBA curriculum. Students learn from healthcare industry leaders at the university's collaborating patient care systems, including Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, MetroHealth and the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center. Consequently, the healthcare management core explores the business of healthcare delivery in university-based medical facilities, group practice-centered organizations, government-run providers and other settings.

However, online MBA candidates at Case Western Reserve still receive a traditional MBA experience similar to that of full-time business school students. The 48-credit hour curriculum supports evidence-based business management skills development at every turn, with core classes diving deep into advanced managerial concepts. Students graduate ready to step into any of the below roles or in roles outside of medicine.

The Hardest-to-Fill Healthcare Management Jobs

What makes a job hard to fill? Artificial intelligence platform Burning Glass Technologies analyzes hundreds of millions of job postings in real-time to track how many days it takes, on average, to fill open positions. Some job postings attract qualified candidates quickly, filling in as little as 28 days. Other roles, like those listed below, remain vacant for months. Among the most comprehensive labor market data and analytics possible, Burning Glass Technologies is the source for all figures reported in the following sections.

Healthcare Administrator

Healthcare administrators—also known as health services managers and healthcare administrative managers—manage staff at hospitals, health systems and other organizations that provide patient care. Demand for these professionals will grow 20.5 percent over the next 10 years, which is a lot given that employers posted almost 160,000 jobs for healthcare administrators on sites like Indeed last year. Their typical responsibilities include budget creation, human resources management, program oversight, project management, facilities use coordination and policy creation. They may also oversee healthcare facilities, nursing homes, hospitals or home health firms.

Often, healthcare administrator jobs are hard to fill because they're so broad. Success in hospital administration requires leadership, communication, quality-management and strategic planning skills—all of which administrators can learn in a healthcare-focused MBA program. That may be why health administrators with bachelor's degrees earn around $69,000 while the 11 percent who have MBAs earn closer to $144,000 per year.

Health Information Director

Health informatics is its own field, thanks to the widespread adoption of electronic medical records (EMRs). Health information directors bridge the gaps among patient care providers, clerical staff members and the IT department by managing clinical information systems and informatics personnel at healthcare facilities. Their responsibilities include ensuring the accessibility of patient records, monitoring EMR systems to ensure regulatory compliance and patient privacy, training staff to use those systems, and developing expansion and upgrade plans.

While there are fewer jobs for health information directors than other healthcare managers, employers create new jobs in this category at similar rates. Filling those positions is challenging because this role involves working with high-tech clinical information systems and data analysis in addition to staff management, budgeting and compliance oversight. The median annual salary for health information directors without an MBA is about $76,000. After earning an MBA in a degree program that teaches those skills, informatics directors can earn more than $103,000 per year.

"Demand for healthcare business and management analysts will grow rapidly over the next decade, though employers will likely find it challenging to fill the thousands of new positions they create."

Healthcare CEO

Chief executive officers in medical organizations take ownership of everything from program development to patient outcomes. It's a high-stress, public-facing job involving strategic planning, public administration and performance management. When things go wrong, the CEO often gets the blame, making it all the more critical for aspiring CEOs to have impeccable qualifications.

Earning an MBA with a healthcare management focus is one way to stand out from the crowd and make more in an already lucrative role. Healthcare CEOs typically earn about $109,000, but those with MBAs may earn closer to $157,000. Hospital CEOs can earn $600,000 or more.

Healthcare Program Manager

Program managers handle the end-to-end management of healthcare programs. They design and lead initiatives; coordinate teams, partners and vendors; spearhead process improvement; and build relationships. Successful health program managers are usually high-energy influencers with strategic planning, project development and stakeholder management skills. It's an essential job in medical settings, and more than 7,000 new positions for program managers opened up in the past year.

What makes this role so hard to fill is that many people don't have the communication skills or data analytics skills necessary to execute programs effectively and efficiently. MBA graduates stand out among program managers in healthcare because they have skills and experience associated with wage premiums. Without an MBA, health program managers earn about $92,000. With an MBA in healthcare management, they can make close to $108,000.

Healthcare General Manager

These health administration professionals handle operational oversight, strategy development and growth. Hospitals, clinics, specialty practices, healthcare networks and other medical facilities rely on healthcare managers for financial management, talent development, project management and system-wide process enhancement.

Employers struggled to fill the 6,000+ general management positions posted in the past 12 months because this is not an easy job. A healthcare MBA signals that you can handle day-to-day business operations, work effectively with medical teams, and make smart decisions about policies affecting patient care. That may be why general managers in medical settings make about $79,000 but can earn closer to $137,000 with a healthcare-focused MBA.

Healthcare Corporate Development Analyst/Manager

Development analysts and managers spend their days focused on growth and are responsible for identifying externally facing enhancements, partnerships and business opportunities. Demand for professionals qualified to step into these roles will grow steadily over the next decade as medical facilities search for new ways to generate profits. The role involves looking at industry trends and potential partners, researching and recommending opportunities, developing relationships, reporting on potential product and process improvements and in some cases, selling services.

It's one of the hardest-to-fill healthcare management jobs because employers ask a lot of their development analysts and managers. However, they give a lot in return. The average salary associated with this role is about $105,000, but MBAs can earn closer to $137,000. MBAs who specialize in healthcare are more likely to succeed in this role because they have skills related to management consulting, partnership development and business planning in medicine.

Healthcare Financial Manager

Demand for financial managers in medical settings is booming and will grow rapidly over the next decade, but employers may find it tough to find job candidates qualified to fill this role. Overseeing the financial operations of clinics, hospitals, group practices, managed care organizations and public health agencies is much more complicated than managing the finances of a typical business.

That's why financial managers in the healthcare sector typically earn about $94,000. With an MBA, that number jumps to close to $120,000 because MBAs have desirable financial modeling, revenue recognition and project management skills. An MBA with a healthcare focus is especially valuable in this heavily regulated business environment, with complicated billing and budgeting processes.

Healthcare Business/Management Analyst

These professionals identify potential process enhancements that will improve efficiency and reduce waste in operations, marketing, finance and other areas. Their job duties include conducting demand analysis and forecasting, financial planning and analysis, management analysis and market analysis.

Demand for healthcare business and management analysts will grow rapidly over the next decade, though employers will likely find it challenging to fill the thousands of new positions they create. Predicting what's around the bend in patient care, MedTech, health insurance and related fields is tough because demand shifts regularly and new technology can change the healthcare landscape in a big way. Hiring managers may increasingly seek out MBAs with healthcare-specific knowledge and pay a premium ($95,000 versus $81,000) to candidates with MBAs in healthcare.

"Senior-level candidates with a working knowledge of both medicine and business have the clear advantage when hospitals, healthcare networks and practices look to fill healthcare management jobs."

Healthcare Market Research Analyst

Medicine is increasingly data-driven, and hospital and patient care networks have to identify impactful trends in rapidly evolving healthcare markets to stay competitive. In the past, business analysts took on this responsibility, but the demand for dedicated healthcare market research analysts is growing and will increase by more than 23 percent over the next 10 years. These professionals find, organize and analyze information on consumers, competitors and market conditions to drive decision-making in their organizations. They're not data scientists, but they are deeply aware of how emerging technologies like AI and machine learning are changing healthcare.

Employers favor MBA graduates for these roles but can't always find MBAs with a health background, making healthcare-focused MBAs especially valuable. Employers may pay analysts with this degree over $30,000 more than those with MBAs and no healthcare training.

Healthcare Communications/Public Relations Manager

Thanks in part to the internet, communications and public relations are increasingly important in medicine. There aren't as many openings for communications and public relations managers in healthcare as there are for health services administrators, but employers will continue to create jobs in this category at a steady rate.

It's relatively easy to break into communications without an advanced degree, but an MBA is a significant asset in PR, where salaries aren't always stellar. Healthcare-focused MBAs, in particular, are associated with a substantial salary increase. PR managers can go from earning about $67,000 to earning over $100,000 after getting a graduate degree. Employers across sectors have trouble filling communications and PR roles because they're intense and public-facing. The ideal candidate is unflappable and has skills related to internal communications, strategic communications, corporate communications and media relations.

Hospital Administrative Officer

Administrative officers manage day-to-day operations, health services delivery and strategy development for hospitals and hospital networks. This is an immense job involving not just operational management, but relationship and partnership management, policy creation and research oversight. Everything is within the purview of this healthcare executive, and employers may find it challenging to fill the thousands of new positions they'll create in the upcoming decade because the role is so expansive.

Administrative officers have to be generalists, making the MBA the ideal degree choice for those interested in this position. Be aware, however, that employers often look for candidates with not just degrees but also healthcare management skills or experience.

Do I Really Need an MBA?

It would be a mistake to assume you don't need an MBA in healthcare because the percentage of healthcare administrators with master's degrees is smaller than you might expect. Remember, the roles above are the hardest-to-fill healthcare management jobs—and one reason they're so hard to fill is that there aren't enough qualified candidates to fill them. Traditional MBA graduates have the business acumen to head up a finance department or spearhead growth initiatives in most industries but little or no experience dealing with healthcare decision-making, patient experience or regulatory issues in healthcare management. On the other hand, healthcare professionals without MBAs may lack specific accounting, marketing, or operations management skills.

Senior-level candidates with a working knowledge of both medicine and business have the clear advantage when hospitals, healthcare networks and practices look to fill healthcare management jobs. Case Western Reserve's Online MBA in Healthcare Management bridges the gap between those disciplines. Program graduates emerge with strong managerial and leadership skills and an in-depth understanding of the forces that govern how healthcare organizations work. Join them by reviewing the admissions requirements and applying now. In just a few terms, you will be ready to address the increasingly complex administrative and managerial challenges healthcare organizations face.

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