How to Become a Nursing Home Administrator: Steps to Advance Your Health Care Career

Nurse Home Administrator

Nursing homes play a pivotal role in the way we serve and care for the elderly community, and nursing home administrators (NHAs) are vital for the success of these facilities.

Administration work in a nursing home and related facilities often entails supervising clinical and administrative affairs, with typical duties that include overseeing staff, medical care and supplies, financial matters and other pertinent tasks.

Experts project a growing need for quality administrators in nursing homes in the U.S. due to an aging population. As of 2023, there were about 1.4 million patients across approximately 26,514 nursing homes, according to data compiled by Zippia. And with the population of people 65 and older projected to increase from 58 million to 82 million in the coming decades, according to the Population Reference Bureau (PRB), the need for senior care and senior living professionals stands to grow immensely.

If you want to advance your health care career and learn how to become a nursing home administrator, you've come to the right place. The George Washington University is happy to provide this helpful guide on becoming a nursing home administrator.

What Does a Nursing Administrator Do?

Senior living facilities are complex institutions — part medical, part residential and part recreational — and nursing home administrators are responsible for overseeing efficient and effective operation of all aspects of the senior living experience.

A nursing home administrator’s general responsibilities may differ depending on the needs, wants, expectations and circumstances of the particular facility and its residents, but many duties are consistent across locations. Some of these include:

  • Overseeing day-to-day operations and ensuring compliance with regulations and policies
  • Managing staff, including hiring, training and evaluating employees
  • Developing and implementing budgets, financial plans and billing procedures
  • Maintaining quality of care for residents through regular assessments and improvement initiatives
  • Serving as a liaison between residents, their families and health care providers to address concerns and ensure satisfaction

Nursing Home Administrator Education Requirements

To become a licensed nursing home administrator, you'll need to check off a handful of prerequisites that include areas like formal education, real-world experience, licensure and practical education. Here are further details on some of these requirements to become a nursing home administrator.


Perhaps the easiest way to get started on your journey toward a nursing home administration career is to earn your formal education.

The first step is earning a bachelor's degree in health care administration or a related field. Bachelor’s degree programs are typically four-year commitments that cover general education alongside your chosen specialty and electives, and choosing a major relevant to senior care or health care can provide a solid foundation on which to build your nursing home administration expertise.

Once you’ve graduated with your bachelor’s degree, you may pursue graduate education. Some states may require you to hold a master's degree, such as GW’s online Healthcare MBA, in order to qualify for high-level nursing home leadership positions. Even if your state does not require a master's degree, earning one can help you stand out from other candidates.


Some advanced nursing home positions or state licensure boards may require a specific amount of experience in health care administration, management or a similar field. This requirement may vary depending on where and in which role you hope to practice, but the most effective candidates will tend to have one to two years of experience with a master's degree and up to five years of experience with a bachelor's degree.

You can look for entry-level experience in nursing homes, senior care facilities and assisted living facilities in both administrative and clinical roles. Positions that may help you gain relevant on-site experience include caregiver, resident assistant, medication assistant and general administration.

Some roles may require you to obtain first aid certification and provide full vaccination status, in addition to other prerequisites and recommendations.

Continuing Education

Many states require NHAs to participate in continuing education units (CEU) to maintain licensure and stay current on the latest industry advancements.

The types of CEUs for nursing home administrators include, but are not limited to, subjects and topics such as:

  • Behavior and mental health
  • Abuse and neglect in senior care
  • Elder law
  • Cultural competence for work with diverse populations
  • Ethics


Every state requires and recognizes licensing to become a nursing home administrator. Typically, this includes passing state and national exams and sometimes completing state-approved training programs.

Obtaining a graduate-level education, such as the online Healthcare MBA from GW, can prepare you for an administrative career in nursing homes and help you stay competitive in the job market with intensive coursework. Master’s-level programs offer courses in high-level, high-demand areas like project management, ethics and finance, and a healthcare-focused MBA can help you build your knowledge of topics related to nursing home administration and management.

A graduate-level education also may help you build out your skill set through electives and specialization course sequences, such as the Graduate Certificate in Health Care Quality and Graduate Certificate in Clinical Research Administration offered through GW. These can help expand your relevant knowledge and expertise with skills to help you succeed in your health care or nursing home administration career.

How to Get a Nursing Home Administrator License

All states require and acknowledge a nursing home administrator license, but these requirements vary by state. For instance, licensing usually includes passing a state-specific exam, meeting education requirements and obtaining a certain number of training hours. Furthermore, NHAs must pass the National Association of Long-Term Care Administrator Boards (NAB) exam.

Contact your state licensing board for more information on your state's specifications.

Nursing Home Administrator Salary

If you want to help people live fuller, healthier lives into their senior years, this is a perfect time to pursue a career as an NHA — especially since pay and demand for highly trained professionals in this field are on the rise.

As the baby boomer generated ages toward retirement, and due to trends such as adults choosing to stay active later into life, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 28% increase in employment for medical and health services managers from 2022 to 2032. This is much faster growth than the 3% average projected across all careers.

Additionally, NHAs can enter higher-paying roles since they work across multiple departments. In fact, the typical nursing home administrator in the U.S. earns about $99,000 annually, according to data compiled by the online salary resource Payscale, with some administrators reporting salaries of $140,000 or more. Annual pay may depend on factors like level of education, location of practice, and years of relevant experience in the field.

Another benefit of becoming a licensed NHA is the chance to advance your career within the facility and field. For instance, advancement opportunities exist with roles such as executive director, regional director, chief operating officer, consultant and others.

Begin Your Path to Becoming a Nursing Home Administrator

If you're ready to make a significant career advancement while greatly impacting the senior community in nursing homes and other assisted living facilities, begin your path to becoming a licensed NHA today.

GW is here to help you make this positive career change and prepare to pursue your nursing home administrator license with our online Healthcare MBA. We’re dedicated to helping you gain the necessary skills to thrive and stay competitive in the current job market.

Our program is 100% online and fully accredited. Plus, the degree offers courses in areas like project management, ethics, finance and additional core MBA courses with other health care management-related studies and electives. Elective coursework like our Graduate Certificate in Health Care Quality and Graduate Certificate in Clinical Research Administration can help build your career toolbox with strong skill sets to help you succeed in your health care career.

Learn more about our Healthcare MBA program and start your journey today.


Recommended Readings

7 Careers in Healthcare That Leverage Strategic Leadership
Benefits of an MBA in Healthcare
Partnership: School of Business and School of Medicine and Health Sciences


National Association of Long-Term Care Administrator Boards, “Exam Information”
National Association of Long-Term Care Administrator Boards, “Seeking Licensure”
Payscale, “Average Nursing Home Administrator Salary”
Population Reference Bureau, “Fact Sheet: Aging in the United States”
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Medical and Health Services Managers”
Zippia, “Nursing Home Statistics”