There is reason to believe there will be plenty of potential opportunities for Master of Business Administration (MBA) graduates in the future, as the healthcare industry is growing rapidly. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 15% increase in employment between 2019 and 2029, which translates to roughly 2.4 million new jobs added to the economy.
As science and technology converge, old systems just are not working. Instead, healthcare is drawing on practices of innovation and entrepreneurship to navigate these changing waters. This unique expansion — and the opportunity that comes with it — provides the perfect environment for healthcare professionals equipped with a Healthcare MBA degree. These professionals can combine their expert knowledge with business savvy to take on new challenges and leadership jobs in healthcare.
Top Healthcare Jobs
While the expansion of the healthcare industry has created a broader scope of job opportunities, there are some career paths that have remained within the industry’s upper echelon. Some of these roles fall under more traditional healthcare jobs that require strong leadership skills, while others combine healthcare knowledge with business sense.
1. Doctors, Physicians and Surgeons
Physicians and surgeons rank among some of the top jobs in healthcare, according to U.S. News & World Report. For the most part, these healthcare specialists also earn more than other professionals in the healthcare field. Doctors are responsible for diagnosing and treating patients based on their specialties, and income potential can depend on where you practice and what type of medicine you choose.
According to Medscape’s 2021 Physician Compensation Report, for instance, general practice surgeons earn a median annual salary of $373,000, compared with a median annual salary of $236,000 earned by physicians in family practice. The report also reveals that specialists earn more: Cardiologists earn a median annual salary of $459,000, and urologists earn a median annual salary of $427,000. However, physicians of all specialties earn healthy wages while they improve their patients’ lives.
Like doctors, nurses care for patients in healthcare settings. Some work in large facilities like hospitals, while others focus their skills on smaller practices. According to the BLS, registered nurses (RNs) earned a median annual salary of $75,330 as of May 2020, and job growth is expected to increase by 7% from 2019 to 2029.
Nurses seeking a path to a leadership position may choose to pursue a role as a nurse practitioner. These advanced practice nurses coordinate patient care and, in some cases, can provide primary patient care. The BLS lists the 2020 median annual salary of this role at $117,670.
After patients visit a medical facility and interact with doctors and nurses, they often visit pharmacists to receive medications and learn how to take them. According to the BLS, these specialists earned a median annual salary of $128,710 as of May 2020.
While pharmacists can work in a traditional clinical facility, offsite pharmacy clinics also provide a common work environment. In these facilities, pharmacists must work even more closely with other healthcare professionals to meet patient needs. Pharmacy clinics relieve some of the demand for primary care physicians and offer patients a convenient alternative to traditional care.
4. Physician Assistants
As a result of changes in the Affordable Care Act, demand for nonphysician primary healthcare providers, such as physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners, is massive. The BLS projects a whopping 31% job growth between 2019 and 2029. PAs usually complete a master’s degree plus extensive clinical training. Their median annual salary was $115,390 in 2020, with top earners making slightly more than $160,000 per year.
5. Practice or Project Administrators
One of the biggest ways healthcare MBAs are getting into management is by becoming project or practice administrators. In this role, they work behind the scenes to make projects or practices more efficient. Administrators can be found managing departments in a hospital, overseeing outpatient clinics and managing nursing homes. It is also possible to act as an administrator for a pharmaceutical product. In both cases, the position involves collecting data, analyzing resource usage and streamlining efforts.
Budgeting, billing and regulatory compliance are also responsibilities of practice and project administrators. People in these roles generally have consulting experience, and many people use administrator roles to validate the experience they have before moving on to consulting for larger firms.
The BLS places this role under the category of medical and health services managers and reports a median annual salary of $104,280 for the profession as of May 2020 and a projected job growth of 32% between 2019 and 2029.
6. Systems Information and Analysis Managers
For healthcare MBAs who do not have consulting or management experience, working as a systems information and analysis manager is an option. This role involves gathering and managing the information flow within a facility. Systems information and analysis managers oversee what data is tracked, oversee how that information is stored and perform analysis on that data to tease out actionable details. This information is used to make budgets, make billing decisions, set schedules and hire help as needed. Systems information and analysis managers also make sure that the facility software and hardware are accurate, up to date, and sufficient for the needs of the department or facility.
According to the compensation website PayScale, systems analysis managers earn a median annual salary of about $103,300 as of June 2021.
7. Hospital or Center Executives
A healthcare MBA who has considerable healthcare management experience may consider becoming a hospital or healthcare center executive, such as a CEO or chief financial officer (CFO). In this executive role, the individual is in charge of meeting and managing the operational needs of the organization. Budgeting and financial planning are important concerns, as are negotiating contracts, analyzing sales information, finding ways to save money, examining financial reports, making sure that the organization is following regulations and so on. A healthcare MBA considering this field will need a strong background in healthcare management as well as a good understanding of finance, marketing and business best practices.
The BLS categorizes these executive roles as top executives, along with other C-suite professions. The median annual salary for top executives was $107,680 as of May 2020.
Shape the Future of Healthcare
Traditional healthcare roles designed to treat illness and injury as they occur will always be needed. At the same time, technology is driving big changes while the industry itself is changing from one focused on curing illness to one centered on preserving health. This latter shift means hospitals and clinics are being run more like businesses — and businesses need managers.
Learn how George Washington University’s online Healthcare MBA program can help prepare you for the perfect position to apply recognized business and management concepts while providing insight into healthcare as a field.