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The 7 Highest-Paying Jobs With a Healthcare MBA

August 22, 2023

For business professionals interested in advancing their careers with a graduate degree, return on investment (ROI) is often top of mind—and for good reason. Some of the best Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs can cost more than $240,000

But sticker price is not the only thing to factor into a cost-benefit analysis when predicting the ROI. Prospective students should also consider the practicality of the coursework, the amount of time they will have to invest in completing the degree and whether they will be able to secure higher-ranking jobs upon graduation. While some standard MBAs can be earned in one year, students may not be able to manage their studies with full-time work. They may also miss out on real-world, skill-based experiences that prepare them for top-paying roles. 

Programs like Case Western Reserve University’s online MBA in Healthcare Management, administered by Weatherhead School of Management, strike a practical balance among cost of attendance, pace, specialized curriculum and applied learning opportunities

Online MBA students at CWRU learn core business principles that include accounting, quantitative research and team management while exploring healthcare-specific topics such as financial management in health services, digital innovation in healthcare and informatics. They also complete in-person residencies at some of Cleveland’s top healthcare institutions, providing them with real-world experience and an established professional network. In sum, CWRU’s online MBA produces business leaders prepared to excel in top-paying positions in medical and medical-adjacent fields.

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The 7 jobs with the highest healthcare MBA salary expectations 

While insufficient professional experience may limit some new graduates from commanding an executive or VP-level healthcare MBA salary, prospective students are still keen to survey their possible future earnings. Read on to explore seven of the highest-paying jobs you may be able to secure with an online MBA in Healthcare Management, their average annual incomes, and how CWRU’s program equips you for these various roles and their responsibilities.

Hospital chief executive officer (CEO)

Annual mean income: $619,820.

Overseeing all operations, hospital CEOs ensure the success and stability of the entire organization. From a healthcare perspective, this can mean setting and communicating the standard for patient care, acquiring new medical technology and staying up to date on new treatments. On the business end, they are charged with guaranteeing the hospital’s financial health, liaising with their board of directors (if applicable), hiring and training hospital staff, and generally serving as the face of the institution. CWRU’s online MBA coursework includes “Managing People and Organizations” and “Culture in Healthcare Organizations,” designed to educate graduates on the intricacies of leading hospitals, which operate distinctly from other businesses.

The annual mean income of $619,820, reported by the Economic Research Institute in 2021, is a bit misleading; the annual median income is $362,887. That indicates that those at the top of the pay scale earn significantly more than their peers. Indeed, the top 25 percent are paid over $749,000 annually.

Hospital chief financial officer (CFO)

Annual mean income: $320,900*.

If CEOs are in the C-suite driver’s seat, then hospital CFOs are in the navigator’s seat, making sure the gas tank stays full and the trip plan is properly executed. Their responsibilities include company-wide budgeting, allocating resources across departments and managing donor relationships. They also communicate with vendors and insurance companies to negotiate billing and compensation agreements. As financial experts charged with maximizing efficiency and minimizing cost, it is crucial they can perform high-level data analysis, auditing and risk management. To that end, courses such as “Finance Issues and Applications in Healthcare” and “Lean Operations in Healthcare Systems” are core components of CWRU’s online MBA.

*This figure—adjusted for inflation—is an estimate based on data from a 2017 Healthcare Financial Management Association report.

Vice president of strategy

Annual mean income: $185,360.

The vice president of strategy owns company-wide strategic initiatives and identifies beneficial business partnerships. Sitting just below the C-suite, individuals in this role have slightly narrower scopes of work that allows them to home in on departmental and employee needs, which help to inform their strategy. By flexing competencies such as competitive analysis and market research, they ensure their organization measures up to industry standards of care, technology and more. Online MBA students at CWRU complete courses such as “Strategic Issues and Applications” and “Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Healthcare” to expose them to the business development side of running a healthcare organization.

Vice president of finance

Annual mean income: $355,136*.

As seasoned financial experts, VPs of finance oversee various departmental budgets, provide financial guidance and ensure compliance with financial regulations. Their scope of work is not as broad as a CFO’s, especially when it comes to managing external relations, allowing them to more closely analyze company cash flow, investments and debt. This also means they flex their accounting and reporting skills daily to properly allocate resources throughout the organization. By completing courses such as “Accounting for Managers” and “Economic Issues and Applications in Healthcare,” online MBA students master the competencies needed to excel as VPs of finance.

*This figure—adjusted for inflation—is an estimate based on data from a 2017 Healthcare Financial Management Association report.

Director of informatics

Annual mean income: $119,740*.

More technical than other high-ranking roles on this list, the director of informatics should possess a deep knowledge of healthcare information systems, how to implement them and how to train hospital staff to ensure company-wide proficiency. While their ultimate goal is still to improve patient care and operational efficiency, their day-to-day is filled with managing the collection, analysis and security of healthcare data. Directors of informatics act as crucial bridges between information technology systems and the people who use them to drive innovative, human-centered care. Courses such as “Digital Innovation in Healthcare” and “Probability, Statistics, and Quantitative Methods” play a vital role in exposing online MBA candidates to the intricacies of healthcare data and the tools used to manage it.

*This figure—adjusted for inflation—is an estimate based on data from a 2019 American Health Information Management Association report.

Vice president of communications

Annual mean income: $141,210.

Heading up all internal and external correspondence, the VP of communications works to maintain cohesive messaging and consistent branding across all platforms. Though they may not always be the center-stage presenter, they are experts in public speaking and public relations—skills that serve them well when tasked with explaining the complexities of healthcare-related news and information. Establishing a clear and concise company narrative is always top of mind for them, whether they are approving content for the employee newsletter or editing a press release. Courses such as “Managerial Marketing” and “Leadership Assessment and Development” help Case Western Reserve online MBA graduates hone their storytelling capacity and emotional intelligence, empowering them to land competitive roles as communications leaders.

Provider network director

Annual mean income: $139,490.

Healthcare organizations comprise a wide range of internal employees, but they also receive essential support from their networks of external providers, which can include physicians, out-patient or in-patient clinics, or other healthcare facilities. Provider network directors manage their company’s existing portfolio of providers, identify and negotiate beneficial new partnerships, and verify regulatory compliance. Beyond being legally literate relationship masters, they have a keen understanding of how individual providers contribute to the greater organizational ecosystem and dictate the quality of patient care. Case Western Reserve online MBA students cultivate their capacity for success as provider network directors through coursework such as “Regulatory Issues in Healthcare Management” and “Healthcare Decision Making.”

What impacts healthcare MBA salary ranges?

Though this list explores average income expectations, many of the positions above have large compensation ranges. Variables that have a considerable impact on pay for healthcare MBA graduates include:

  • Industry: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing sectors pay medical and health services managers upward of $200,000, while hospitals and physicians’ offices pay them between $115,000 and $130,000.
  • Job title: Income averages by titles often signal function, experience, level and responsibility. More senior titles typically draw higher pay, though it is important to note that not all titles (and compensation packages) follow a strict hierarchy, as discussed below.
  • Experience: Though difficult to quantify the impact of experience, it is the root of the widest gaps between salaries. In some cases, for example, a seasoned 20-year VP might earn significantly more than their C-suite counterpart if they have fewer years of experience. For those not interested in higher-level management, this is an important reminder that job and salary growth do not have to be vertical in nature.  
  • Location: Healthcare managers in high-volume service centers of major metropolitan states like California and regions like New York City can earn annual mean incomes of between $145,090 and $172,320. Those working in lower-density states like Montana and Kentucky will earn closer to the $100,00 to $110,000 range.

How an online MBA in healthcare management prepares you to command a higher salary

Programs such as Case Western Reserve’s online MBA program help graduates develop key competencies in financial literacy, organizational management and quantitative analysis, each of which has unique applications in the healthcare industry. This multidisciplinary approach prepares students for more specialized, high-level positions like those mentioned above.

Because networking plays an essential role in business, CWRU’s online MBA students are also given the opportunity to gather for in-person residencies. There, they can create valuable industry connections at some of Cleveland’s top healthcare institutions and learn alongside their peers.

It is worth noting that while C-suite and VP-level jobs command the highest salaries, even early career professionals graduating with an MBA in healthcare management can find well-compensated jobs, many of which can lead to the titles on this list. With the help of the robust professional network cultivated through their residencies, CWRU online MBA graduates can be well-positioned for upward career mobility.

To continue exploring Case Western Reserve’s online MBA in Healthcare Management, email an enrollment advisor today. 

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