Healthcare Management vs. Healthcare Administration

Healthcare Administration

When you hear the word “healthcare,” your mind likely jumps to thoughts of doctors, nurses, and hospitals. But there’s more to the healthcare field than diagnosing or treating patients — it’s a vast and varied industry comprising numerous parts and career paths, from marketing and technology to health insurance and pharmaceutical research.

Two of the industry’s most rapidly growing sub-fields are healthcare administration and healthcare management. What is a healthcare management role, and how does administration compare?

The key difference between healthcare management vs. healthcare administration is that management focuses on overall business efficiency and financial strategy. In contrast, administration deals with overseeing day-to-day operations. For instance, a person who works in healthcare management might operate a consulting firm, direct an outpatient clinic, or act as a hospital’s CEO. On the other hand, administrative tasks might include purchasing equipment, creating staff schedules, or overseeing specific departments like Human Resources (HR).

Would one of these fields be right for you, but not sure which would make the best fit? This guide will help you weigh the differences between healthcare management and administration, including comparisons of education requirements, typical job duties, salary outlook, and more.

What is Healthcare Management?

Whether university hospital systems or rural family clinics, medical organizations need to be efficient, productive, and profitable to succeed as a business. Suppose they wish to remain solvent and continue providing quality care for the patients who depend on them. In that case, healthcare providers need sound financial guidance and effective leadership.

That’s precisely where healthcare management enters the picture. These types of roles are focused on the business aspects of operating a hospital, clinic, or other organization, such as creating long-term strategies around telemedicine or coordinating with external partners and service providers. In short, the function of a healthcare manager is to help hospitals, physicians’ offices, and other medical organizations achieve better outcomes — and deliver better care — by implementing effective business strategies.

Key Responsibilities

As we’ll see later in this article, there are numerous career paths within healthcare management, from the hospital’s executive director to a medical staff coordinator — and many other possibilities. As such, your specific job duties will depend on the type of role you fill. However, speaking generally, the roles and responsibilities of a healthcare manager (or someone in a related position) include the following:

  • Coordinating any outsourced services
  • Defining the organization’s mission, vision, and values
  • Designing emergency protocols and procedures
  • Developing business plans and determining financial strategies
  • Ensuring that the organization is compliant with regulations
  • Identifying strategies to boost performance and decrease costs
  • Monitoring and supporting the organization’s needs

Some of these duties may overlap with those of a healthcare administrator, such as managing staff members or monitoring regulatory compliance. The role of administrators in healthcare is covered in more detail below.

What is Healthcare Administration?

In the general business sense, “administration” refers to “the administering of tasks related to running a company” — for example, setting departmental goals or training new employees. In the context of healthcare, that means supervising team members and ensuring that daily operations are carried out smoothly and efficiently, from making sure nurses are complying with policy changes to approving purchases of new medical equipment. 

Want to take a deeper dive into this topic? Read more about the role of a healthcare administrator and how to become one, or reach out to our admissions counselors about NU healthcare administration programs. Read on to learn about healthcare administrator duties and responsibilities.

Key Responsibilities

As with any professional role, a healthcare administrator’s responsibilities will vary depending on their employer, work environment, experience level, and other factors. For instance, the duties of an assisted living administrator will differ from those of an administrator working in a hospital setting. 

Keeping that in mind, here are some typical tasks and duties that healthcare administrators are generally expected to perform:

  • Coordinate with HR and accounting departments to optimize efficiency
  • Create employee schedules and handle other staffing-related issues
  • Lead and oversee departments and staff members
  • Manage medical facilities (or specific departments within larger healthcare organizations)
  • Monitor and replenish inventory, such as ordering more medical equipment before funds run out or become too low
  • Taking steps to ensure compliance with state and federal regulations, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA)

It’s important to note that, in addition to the duties outlined above, administration roles often involve managerial tasks — for example, managing projects or team members — which can lead to confusion about the distinction between these roles. Continue reading for a detailed comparison of healthcare management vs. healthcare administration, including education requirements, work environments, and typical salaries.

woman in scrubs stands outside in a National campus

What’s the Difference Between Healthcare Administration and Healthcare Management?

Both healthcare administration and healthcare management require an understanding of business, strong organizational and communication skills, and — of course — a passion for the field of health and medicine. However, while sharing a few similarities, these roles also differ in many important respects, including the scope and nature of the work, typical workplace settings, and what sorts of earning potential and job prospects both have to offer. 

As someone in a healthcare management role, you need to be able to see “the bigger picture” and create effective strategies for reducing costs while improving care. For this reason, people who enter healthcare management typically come from interdisciplinary backgrounds in business, healthcare, and data analytics

While the phrase “healthcare administration” is sometimes used interchangeably with “healthcare management,” it’s a separate pillar of the workforce that performs its own function. Healthcare administration is more focused on guiding and supervising specific departments, units, and workflows within an organization, while managers set the course for the organization as a whole. 

People who enter healthcare administration or management roles typically work in settings like hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices, surgical facilities, assisted living facilities, or nursing homes. However, you can find healthcare managers in almost any type of healthcare-related business setting, including insurers, consulting firms, and pharmaceutical companies. 

According to PayScale, the average salary for a healthcare administrator in the U.S. is close to $76,000 per year. According to data from Indeed, a typical healthcare management salary is comparable to about $81,000. However, salaries and job outlooks vary considerably within both fields, depending on the career you intend to pursue. You can find more information about the typical salaries for various healthcare administration and management jobs at the end of this guide.

Education Requirements for Healthcare Management and Administration

Suppose you aim to excel in a competitive field like healthcare. In that case, it’s vital to meet — and helpful to surpass — the minimum education requirements for your desired role. These requirements vary depending on factors such as state laws, employer preferences, and what type of position you are applying for. 

While some positions may be open to applicants with bachelor’s degrees, master’s or doctorate degrees are typically preferred by employers and may be required for some roles, particularly those that involve leading or supervising other staff members. In addition, you can distinguish yourself as an applicant by earning your master’s or doctorate in healthcare administration, which will also increase your earning potential. National University offers graduate, undergraduate, and doctoral degrees in health administration, along with numerous programs in business and finance.

doctor checking on patient wearing masks

Career Paths for a Degree in Healthcare Administration

So which is better, healthcare management or administration? It depends on your interests, skills, and career goals. 

For instance, if you’ve ever considered earning an MBA or dreamed about becoming an entrepreneur, your interest in business may find the perfect outlet in a healthcare management role. If, on the other hand, you’re more interested in the clinical aspects of healthcare, you might prefer an administrative role where you can be directly involved in overseeing staff members and patient services.  

Of course, the decision-making process doesn’t stop there: the next step is to think about specific careers you might be interested in exploring within the broader fields of healthcare management or administration. Below, we’ve compiled some examples of popular careers in healthcare administration and management, including salary information. Here are just a few of the career options you can explore with a degree in healthcare administration or a relevant field.  

Careers in Healthcare Administration

Examples of careers in healthcare administration include hospital administrator, public health director, health advocate, and a college professor teaching healthcare administration topics. Read on to learn more about each. 

Hospital administrator

PayScale says hospital administrators earn an average salary of over $90,600. A hospital administrator’s duties include hiring new employees, maintaining patient records, and billing patients for visits or treatments. 

Public health director

A public health director is responsible for designing public health programs, which includes analyzing data and creating budgets. Data from ZipRecruiter indicates that public health directors earn average salaries of about $97,800 per year. 

Health advocate

Health advocates, or patient advocates, facilitate communication between patients and healthcare providers to help patients obtain the best possible care. According to, the average salary for a health advocate is approximately $53,150 annually. 


A doctorate degree in healthcare administration can help qualify you to become a college professor. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), postsecondary educators earn median salaries above $79,600 as of 2021.

Careers in Jobs in Healthcare Management

Careers related to healthcare management include the clinic director, executive director, health services manager, and medical staff coordinator. Continue reading for a brief overview of each.

Clinic Director

According to Indeed, clinical directors earn an average salary of about $89,950 annually in the United States. Sacramento, CA, currently ranks as the highest-paying city for clinical directors, with average wages above $117,000.

Executive director 

The executive director of a healthcare organization works with the company’s chief medical officer (CMO), its CEO, and other executives to create strategies that help the business achieve its goals. The salary for this position can range anywhere from around $87,300 to over $300,000 per year, according to reports submitted to Indeed and Glassdoor, respectively. 

Health Services Manager

The BLS reports that medical and health services managers earned median salaries above $101,000 as of 2021. Even more notably, this field is projected to grow by a whopping 28% through the coming decade, which the BLS describes as “much faster than average.” 

Medical Staff Coordinator

The role of a medical staff coordinator is to manage physicians and other staff members, such as maintaining doctors’ credentials and setting up meetings to resolve employee issues. According to ZipRecruiter, medical staff coordinators earn average salaries of about $56,400. 

In addition to the careers we’ve covered above, the BLS also provides information about administrative services and facilities managers — people who “plan, direct, and coordinate activities that help an organization run efficiently,” a description that applies to many of the professions featured in this guide and according to the BLS, administrative services and facilities managers earned median annual salaries of $99,290 as of 2021, with jobs in this field expected to grow by 7% through 2031.

Doctor in office talking to patient

Start a Career in Healthcare

National University offers fast-paced, WSCUC-accredited degree programs in healthcare administration, preparing you with the skills and knowledge needed to advance in your field. Choose from the Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration (BSHA), the Master in Healthcare Administration (MHA), or the Doctor of Health Administration (DHA), with convenient options to complete courses on-site or online. 

NU also offers a wide range of business degrees and certifications, including the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), Master of Business Administration (MBA), and Doctor of Business Administration (DBA). In addition, grants, scholarships, and other forms of financial aid are available for students who qualify, with over $50 million awarded in 2022.  

Take the next step on your journey toward a satisfying healthcare career. To learn more about healthcare management vs. healthcare administration, check out the healthcare and business programs at National University, or get started on your application.

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