As the U.S. healthcare industry continues its rapid expansion, high-paying opportunities have emerged for professionals who can successfully manage the business side of medical care. While medical practitioners are critical, skilled administrators play a key behind-the-scenes role ensuring facilities run efficiently and remain financially viable.
This guide explores some of the highest paying administrative job roles within healthcare based on national salary data. Understanding these career paths can help aspiring professionals determine the best fit and plan their educational and training steps accordingly.
Top-Paying Careers in Healthcare Administration
Hospital Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
As the top leadership position, hospital CEOs earn one of the highest salaries in healthcare administration. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), hospital CEOs earned an average salary of $293,040 per year as of 2020. With oversee of all hospital operations and financials, they bear ultimate responsibility for the wellbeing and profitability of the organization.
CEOs require extensive postgraduate education and executive experience. Many earn both a Master’s in Healthcare Administration (MHA) as well as an MBA to gain a comprehensive business and medical understanding. Credentials like Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE) demonstrate expertise. CEO performance directly impacts key metrics like patient satisfaction, staff retention and financial stability. Their strategic vision shapes the direction of entire medical facilities.
Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
Hospital CFOs serve as the top financial officers, overseeing all accounting, budgeting, finance, investments and capital expenditure activities for healthcare facilities. The BLS reports the average CFO salary at $197,180 annually in 2020.
Some key job duties include developing annual operating budgets, analyzing financial performance, managing bond issuances and investor relations, controlling expenditures, ensuring regulatory compliance, and providing strategic guidance to the CEO. CFO roles often require at minimum a Master’s in either Healthcare Administration or Business Administration along with certification as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
Chief Medical Officer (CMO)
Another highly compensated healthcare executive role is that of Chief Medical Officer (CMO) with a nationwide average salary of $255,890 according to the BLS. Usually licensed physicians with additional management training, CMOs serve as the top doctor overseeing all clinical operations within hospitals or large medical groups.
Typical responsibilities involve implementing quality initiatives, coordinating care delivery among medical specialties, managing relationships with outside providers, guiding technology decisions, developing new service lines, monitoring clinical outcomes, reducing readmission rates and ensuring compliance with regulatory standards. Beyond medical school, CMOs often complete additional residencies as well as Master’s degrees in areas like Public Health.
Executive Vice President
At large academic medical centers and regional hospital systems, Executive Vice President roles rank among the highest levels of administrative management. EVPs specialize in critical functional areas like operations, business development, physician practices, ambulatory care and more, overseeing division-wide operations.
According to recruiter Deyta, EVP salaries averaged $299,000 in 2019, with potential to exceed $500,000 including bonuses or incentives at major nonprofit healthcare organizations. Besides an MBA or MHA, EVP candidates must have 15-20 years’ leadership experience, preferably with a focus in their assigned functional specialty. Their cross-divisional influence impacts system-wide performance.
Chief Operating Officer (COO)
Serving as the#2 executive after the CEO, COOs held direct responsibility for day-to-day hospital operations, posting an average salary of $229,510 as reported by the BLS in 2020. Typical COO duties encompass managing all non-clinical departments like facilities, supply chain, technology, human resources and support staff.
Along with overseeing operational budgets and processes, COOs may assist with strategic planning, regulatory compliance initiatives, quality management programs, real estate expansion plans and organizing clinical service lines. Quality COO candidates combine an MBA or MHA with a track record of success in leadership roles such as nursing administration, facilities management or physician practice integration.
Vice President Level Roles
Vice presidents (VPs) lead divisions or departments within larger healthcare organizations. Some of the highest paying VP specialties based on national data include:
- Revenue Cycle VP: Average salary $203,280. Oversees all billing, coding, collections and reimbursement operations to maximize cash flow.
- Managed Care VP: Salary averaging $195,020. Negotiates contracts with insurers, manages utilization reviews and develops value-based care programs.
- Information Technology VP: Earning $194,660 typically. Responsible for all clinical and administrative IT systems, cybersecurity, data management and technology strategy.
- Physician Enterprise VP: Salary range between $191,200-$211,660. Integrates hospital-employed doctor groups, recruits new physicians and grows clinical service lines.
All VP roles demand at minimum a master’s degree as well as 8-12 years’ healthcare leadership experience specialized in their respective domains. Multi-facility system exposure enhances candidates.
Advanced Degree & Certification Options
While experienced administrators can achieve high levels, obtaining advanced training often accelerates careers and opens additional opportunities. Two widely respected qualifications include:
Master’s in Healthcare Administration (MHA)
A standalone MHA or joint MBA/MHA particularly benefits those aspiring to C-suite roles. Full-time two year programs introduce strategic management frameworks tailored for healthcare delivery and payment. Graduates gain hands-on experience through practicums and wide networking access. Top MHA programs regularly place students in high-ranking jobs post-graduation.
Fellow in Healthcare Administration (FACHE)
Board certification as a Fellow through the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE) has become almost mandatory for top medical center leadership. Candidates complete an application validating at least 10 years of executive experience in addition to academic and ethical qualifications. Maintaining FACHE status involves continual education to stay current on industry trends. Board certification carries prestige that separates individuals for the highest administrative roles.
Factors Determining Individual Salaries
While national averages provide a general sense, actual compensation can vary substantially based on specific characteristics of healthcare employers as well as candidates’ background factors:
- Region: Salaries tend to be higher in major coastal metro areas with a high cost of living.
- Facility Type: Academic medical centers pay more than community hospitals on average.
- System Size: Multi-facility healthcare systems compensate executives at a premium vs smaller standalone facilities.
- Experience Level: More seasoned leaders with 20+ years routinely earn in the highest six-figure salary ranges.
- Education: Advanced degrees and credentials usually result in higher starting salaries and faster pay progression over the course of a career.
- Performance: Individuals who excel at goals related to quality, financials, growth and leadership can achieve substantial incentive bonuses and raises.
Negotiation Skills: Assertive negotiators able to cite their unique value can potentially command salaries above typical ranges.
Choosing the Right Healthcare Administration Path
As the demands and complexity of medical care evolve rapidly, skilled healthcare administrators will remain in high demand.
By gaining qualifications like an MHA or credentials like FACHE, focusing career progression in high-revenue spheres, and conducting strategic long term career planning, ambitious professionals can position themselves for sept into the highest earning roles.
With diligent effort, the rewards of a career overseeing top-tier medical institutions or large integrated systems represent some of the most lucrative opportunities available in administration today.