In healthcare, nothing is “strictly business”—which makes it an industry unlike any other. On the other side of every decision related to staffing, strategy, budget creation or resource allocation, there are providers and patients grappling with choices that can literally involve life and death. It’s also a monolithic field that employs 11% of American workers, accounts for more than 17% of the United States’ economy and is governed by a confusing array of local, state and federal regulations.
On one hand, the healthcare industry is flourishing. On the other, managing the business side of medicine is incredibly complicated. Americans are living longer and using more healthcare resources than ever before, but healthcare insecurity is still common in the U.S. The regulations governing patient privacy, health insurance and drug and medical device manufacturing grow increasingly complex every year. Providers must work around changing patient expectations, fast-evolving superbugs, global pandemics and ever-changing billing models.
It should come as no surprise that administration is the fastest-growing subfield of medicine, and demand for qualified healthcare managers is booming. Consequently, the average healthcare management salary is a lot higher than the national average across occupations. How much higher depends on a variety of factors, including education.
There are numerous roles in healthcare management geared toward people with bachelor’s degrees in business, but the most lucrative positions tend to be those reserved for professionals with not only significant management experience but also advanced skills and deep domain knowledge. Case Western Reserve University’s Online MBA in Healthcare Management from the Weatherhead School of Management has a one-of-a-kind curriculum that pairs traditional Master of Business Administration coursework with a focused healthcare core designed to prepare students to step into high-paying roles in medical management and administration.
What sets the program apart is that healthcare management is treated as much more than just another elective. Online MBA candidates at Case Western Reserve spend significant time studying healthcare finance, organizational behavior in medical settings, health economics and regulatory issues in medical management as well as advanced financial and managerial decision-making, risk management and operations management. The Weatherhead MBA’s healthcare core makes up 40% of the total curriculum and includes classes such as:
- Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare
- Organizational Culture in Healthcare Management
- Digital Innovation in Healthcare
- Economic Issues and Applications in Healthcare
- Experiential Learning in Healthcare Management
- Financial Issues and Applications in Healthcare
- Healthcare Decision Making
- Engineering & Healthcare Management
- Introduction to Population Health
- Lean Operations in Healthcare Systems
- Regulatory Issues in Healthcare Management
Just how does this knowledge affect salaries in medical administration? Consider that healthcare management MBA salaries start at more than $80,000 and rise quickly from there.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), healthcare professionals in management, administrative and leadership positions typically earn around $101,000 and can earn more than $200,000 in senior-level roles. While salary aggregators such as PayScale report that the average healthcare management MBA salary is roughly $86,000 per year, that figure is calculated using self-reported data submitted by early-career managers, high-paid executives and professionals in every possible healthcare management role in between. BLS wage data comes from numerous national surveys of employers and workers and is likely more reliable.
What’s clear is that healthcare managers with MBAs earn more than their counterparts with undergraduate degrees (who have salaries, on average, of just over $68,000). The resume-boosting impact of a degree such as Weatherhead’s Online MBA in Healthcare Management is just one piece of a broader puzzle. MBA holders enjoy greater access to opportunities because their professional networks are robust, they’re eligible to step into more senior roles at companies that limit hiring by education at the executive level and they have unique insight into the business side of medicine that makes them more valuable.
Education isn’t the only factor that influences salaries in healthcare management, and the BLS reports that healthcare managers earn more in some settings and geographical locations than in others.
After earning a healthcare management MBA, you might work for a hospital, medical practice, diagnostics firm, nursing home or home healthcare network. You could also work for a biotech research lab, pharmaceutical manufacturer or government agency. The top-paying healthcare management jobs tend to be created by employers in pharmaceutical manufacturing, MedTech, health insurance, research and development, hospitals, and specialty healthcare facilities.
The location of your workplace can also add tens of thousands of dollars to your earning potential. The average healthcare manager earns just over $101,000, according to the BLS, but a healthcare manager based in New York, California or Massachusetts can earn more than $145,000 annually. In certain cities—e.g., Dalton, Georgia—healthcare management professionals routinely earn upward of $172,000 in base compensation.
Finally, your title may play a role in how much you earn with a healthcare management MBA. The BLS calculates salary information for medical and health services management professionals but doesn’t break down its data by role. Look at data for specific roles on salary aggregator sites such as PayScale, Glassdoor and Indeed, and it becomes clear that healthcare management MBA salary averages don’t tell a complete story. For example, most clinical practice managers earn about $138,000. The average healthcare or hospital administrator, on the other hand, earns about $84,000 while hospital executives can earn more than $150,000. It’s not unusual for experienced chief executives to earn $500,000 or more.
Titles matter when it comes to compensation in healthcare management, but navigating those titles can be challenging because there are so many of them. Unsurprisingly, the healthcare managers who earn the most are those with designations such as director, vice president, senior or executive in their titles. The average provider network director, for example, earns an annual salary of about $166,000, while a director of informatics might earn about $149,000. A vice president of clinical services can earn about $143,000, a vice president of finance can earn about $187,000 and a vice president of strategy can earn over $200,000. Hospital CFOs earn about $145,000, and home healthcare CEOs earn about $195,000.
Keep in mind that the average salaries associated with healthcare administration and management jobs aren’t a cap. Healthcare managers, health services managers and healthcare administrators with the right experience and credentials can command seven- and eight-figure salaries when they work for prestigious, high-profile hospitals and healthcare networks. Graduating from a program such as Case Western Reserve’s Online MBA in Healthcare Management, which has relationships with leading healthcare institutions and industry business leaders, can put you on track to become one of the highest earners in the field.
Return on investment is an important consideration, and cost does figure heavily into the basic ROI calculation. It’s not, however, the main driver of ROI. Students who choose MBA programs just for the diploma discover that simply having an additional degree on their resumes doesn’t necessarily lead to increased opportunity or higher salaries. Case Western Reserve’s 48-credit Online MBA with a healthcare management track, on the other hand, costs $1,561 per credit hour or $74,928 in total tuition—close to the average cost of a healthcare MBA in the United States—but has the potential to deliver higher-than-average returns.
Weatherhead School of Management offers a full standalone Master of Business Administration experience with a healthcare specialization built on top of it. The program teaches the essential skills healthcare managers need to successfully weigh the costs of care against patient outcomes, manage the highly diverse teams found in healthcare systems, and navigate complicated laws and regulations that govern medical care and research. Students receive academic and career support throughout the program. And Case Western Reserve’s online healthcare MBA graduates emerge from the program extremely well-connected, thanks to Weatherhead’s connections to 270 corporate partners and the university’s involvement in the Cleveland Innovation District initiative. While online MBA candidates are only in Cleveland for two intensive summer residencies, virtual interviews with local healthcare leaders are part of the online healthcare MBA’s core coursework.
At first glance, the ROI of a master’s degree is the same regardless of how one earns it. The cost of a university’s part-time online program may be comparable to that of its full-time on-campus programs, and the costs associated with commuting or even relocating to attend a more prestigious program may seem insignificant when compared to the cost of earning an MBA. Dig deeper, however, and it’s clear that the financial return on investment of a part-time degree program that allows students to continue working is higher.
It comes down to the opportunity costs associated with each degree format. Students in full-time on-campus programs trade one to two years of income and experience for an immersive business school experience. Weatherhead MBA candidates who enroll in the school’s flexible online program receive an education that mirrors the traditional full-time MBA experience without losing income or missing out on opportunities for advancement. As a result, they can earn a higher post-healthcare management MBA salary than their peers who studied full-time over the same period and potentially out-earn those peers throughout their careers.
Earning top dollar in a healthcare management career is a matter of having not only experience and talent but also the right credentials and connections. Case Western Reserve’s 48-credit hour online healthcare MBA program builds on the university’s relationships with four nationally recognized Cleveland-based healthcare institutions—Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, MetroHealth and the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center—as well as the healthcare expertise found among Case Western Reserve University faculty. Program graduates are domain experts equipped to drive positive change in medicine and medicine-adjacent industries.
Whether it is the right master’s degree program for you is something only you can decide. Consider that Weatherhead has a reputation for developing leaders prepared to take on the toughest business challenges; step into high-paying executive roles such as CFO, CEO and Chief Health Information Officer; and transform the healthcare delivery ecosystem for the better, now and in the future.
Apply now and, in just a few terms of flexible, part-time study, you will have the evidence-based management skills and specialized healthcare-focused business knowledge that can command the highest possible pay in an industry where high salaries are already the norm.