Career Pathing Within Healthcare Administration: A Guide

Raychel Ria

Raychel Ria

Agramon-Gacayan, BSN, RN, MPM

Updated & Fact Checked: 04.03.2024

Career pathing is all about mapping out the jobs or positions you want to hold throughout your entire career. It can move toward the pinnacle of your organization as it helps you determine the knowledge, skills, competencies, and experience necessary for each available role.

Types of Career Ladders

Career growth comes in various directions:


The most common traditional path, it involves moving up in your current organization. For example, you started as a departmental director, became a chief operating officer, and eventually rose to the rank of chief executive officer (CEO). 


This involves the movement from one department to another, allowing you to develop additional knowledge and skills you wouldn’t have learned if you never left your ‘area.’ This is a good way for administrators who are just starting as it can help them build various competencies that can make them well-rounded administrators. 

Career Stages

The key elements of a career in healthcare administration are as follows:


All healthcare leaders start at the bottom. Entry-level roles, such as that of admissions coordinator, for example, are ‘starter’ jobs that you can take as you navigate through your career path. It often requires little to no experience. 

In most cases, a high school diploma, post-secondary certification, or Associate’s may suffice. That said, many prefer applicants with a Bachelor’s degree in Health Administration or equivalent.


As entry-level workers gain more experience, they are given mid-level roles that involve more responsibility. For example, from an admissions coordinator, you may be promoted to admissions supervisor for the day shift.

Senior Level/Management

As time progresses, a mid-level manager may progress into senior-level or management positions. These often involve overseeing teams and making decisions for the department. For example, a day shift admissions supervisor may be promoted to director of hospital admissions after 5+ years of exemplary work. 


Most healthcare administrators aspire to reach the executive or leadership level. These positions involve taking the helm of the organization so that it meets its goals.  

Apart from having extensive work experience, executive/leadership positions usually require the completion of a graduate-level degree, such as a Master’s or Doctorate in Health Administration


Some healthcare administrators may opt to become specialists or experts in a certain field. An admissions day shift manager with years of experience dealing with health insurance companies may work as an insurance subject matter expert or consultant, instead of gunning for the director of admissions position.


While many health administrators aspire to move to higher positions in the organizations, some may want to start their own venture instead. A director of hospital admissions may decide to open his/her own healthcare consultancy company instead of applying for a C-suite position.  

Benefits of Career Pathing

Some healthcare administrators may not consider formulating a career path plan. But you should, as it comes with many advantages:

  • Skill Development. The job you want to have in the next few years may require a certain set of skills, so you’ll be more likely to commit to activities or programs that will help you develop them. 
  • Adaptability. Since a career path promotes skill development, it can make you more adaptable to jobs that you might not have thought about beforehand.
  • Enhanced Focus. When you have a career plan, you will be more focused because you want to achieve your work goals. 
  • Better Decision-Making. You’ll be more adept at making decisions, especially those that pave the way for your career goals. 
  • Higher Confidence. A career path can make you more confident, more so once you see that you’re hitting your goals at the intended timeframes. 
  • Long-term Success. A career path sets you up for success in your current (or future) organization. 
  • Career Control and Satisfaction. You’ll be happier in your current and future posts if you know that they’re what you wanted to have in the first place.
  • Financial Stability. Getting a promotion (and the raise that comes with it) allows you to spend accordingly. You will not invest in a new car or house, for example, if you know that you’re not going to get that raise right now. 
  • Work-Life Balance. Planning a demanding career outside of crucial life events, such as marriage or rearing kids, will help you achieve the ultimate work-life balance.

How to Create a Career Path Within Healthcare Administration

In order to reach the administrative position you want, you need to:

1. Perform a Self-Assessment

It’s easy to say that you want to be a CEO in 10 years. Your skills, however, may make you a better educator instead. As such, it’s important to perform a self-assessment before you map a career path. 

Start by listing your exemplary skills. Are you good at decision-making, problem-solving, strategic planning, and all other skills that healthcare administrators need to master? If yes, jot them all down as they’ll prove useful to your career pathing plan.

It will also help to take note of your interests and hobbies. For example, if you prefer dealing with computer programs rather than people, then you may want to focus on a path that focuses on health information management.

2. Explore the Various Career Paths

The beauty of healthcare administration is that it allows you to pursue various career paths. If you’re still on the fence as to what direction to take, make sure to do a deep dive of all the available options. While research is good, it’s better to talk to individuals who have pursued the career path you’re interested in as they can give better insights.

3. Map Your Desired Career Path

What job do you want to hold in the next 1, 5, or 10 years? You need to write this down if you want to achieve them. Such a document can help you map out your goals and make you accountable for reaching them. Moreover, it can serve as inspiration whenever you find yourself struggling in your current position. 

4. Commit to Your Career Path

A lot of people can help you achieve your career goals, but at the end of the day, you’re the one who’s solely responsible for your progress. As such, you need to do what you need to do, and that includes:

  • Completing your MHA degree (if you haven’t yet)
  • Developing your own skills 
  • Earning certifications
  • Shadowing colleagues/managers
  • Participating in mentorship programs
  • Volunteering for activities that can help you develop new competencies (or build on old ones)
  • Networking with people inside and outside your organization

5. Be On the Lookout for Opportunities

If you want to achieve your career goals, you need to be proactive. You need to look for opportunities that can help you fulfill your objectives, instead of just waiting for them. That means looking for external openings, especially if you don’t expect your organization to offer the position you want anytime soon. 

Why settle for a lower position when you can get a higher, more profitable one in another company? 

6. Ask for Help

It doesn’t make you any weaker when you ask for help. In fact, it may help you reach your target position faster. 

A good way to get help is to share your career plan with your manager or any higher-up willing to be your mentor. They can help refine your goals so that they’re achievable in the given timeframe. Moreover, they can help you actualize your goals by letting you take the lead in projects that can improve your skills, align your goals with the company’s goals, and expose you to other leaders and executives.

7. Negotiate

You know you deserve that promotion. You’ve worked hard for it and even got a dual MHA-MBA degree. Granted that the time is right, be prepared to negotiate for that higher position, project, or opportunity. 

8. Adapt and Adjust

In as much as you’d want your path to be smooth and fuss-free, it’s not always the case. You’re bound to face kinks and issues along the way. What’s important is that you adapt and adjust whenever these things happen. 

Let’s say you don’t get the position you wanted, but you’re being offered a different role that requires you to learn new skills. While this may come with some challenges, adapting and adjusting yourself to the new requirements may just make you a better healthcare administrator. It may even set you off on a more exciting (and profitable) career path! 

Career pathing may seem daunting at first, but it can help you achieve the position you’ve always wanted. Whether you’re new at the job or still in the process of completing your CAHME-accredited MHA degree, it’s never too early (or late) to start with your career path plan!