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If you want to work in healthcare but aren’t interested in treating patients, you might consider a job in healthcare administration. This field allows you to do fulfilling work promoting people’s health and well-being without directly tending to their medical conditions.
Earning an associate degree in healthcare administration prepares you for an entry-level position in the healthcare administration field. This two-year degree may be a good fit if you plan to work in healthcare administration and want to enter the workforce quickly.
In this article, we explore everything you should know about earning a healthcare administration associate degree. We discuss college admission requirements, typical courses you may take and popular career paths in the industry, including their salaries and education requirements.
What Is a Healthcare Administration Associate Degree?
An associate degree in healthcare administration covers medical terminology, records management, medical office management, and relevant legal issues and regulations. This degree gives you valuable skills to help you qualify for several types of jobs.
A healthcare administration associate degree is also a great starting point if you plan to pursue a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration.
An associate allows you to test the waters in the healthcare field without committing to a four-year healthcare administration degree. You can also gain work experience between earning your associate and enrolling in a bachelor’s program. When you decide it’s time to earn your bachelor’s, you can apply your associate credits toward the four-year degree.
An associate degree in healthcare administration typically requires around 60 credits and takes about two years to complete. If you study part time, it may take you longer. Alternatively, you may find accelerated programs that you can complete in less time.
Admission Requirements for a Healthcare Administration Associate Degree
You need to be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or GED® certificate to enroll in a healthcare administration associate degree program. You must also submit a completed application and transcripts.
Admission requirements vary among schools, so check with your prospective college to make sure you have everything you need.
Common Courses for a Healthcare Administration Associate Degree
Every degree program is unique, so your program’s course offerings may vary, but below are a few common courses for healthcare administration associate programs.
This course covers everything you need to know about medical terminology, including terms related to the body’s skeletal, muscular, digestive, cardiovascular, reproductive, respiratory and other systems. You also learn terminology for diagnostic procedures, laboratory tests, diagnoses, treatment procedures, imaging techniques and other aspects of medical care.
Medical Office Management
A medical office management course introduces you to various aspects of managing a medical practice, clinic department or hospital office. You might learn about appointment scheduling, billing and coding, office management procedures, patient record management, legal and ethical issues, OSHA standards, HIPAA compliance, health insurance programs and personnel management.
Health Records Management
In this course, students explore the various types of records used in medical offices and learn how to securely store, use and share them. Coursework covers health information management, regulatory requirements, data security issues, filing systems and health record systems. This course also explores the relationships among medical records and patient care, billing and insurance issues, and health information systems.
Anatomy and Physiology
This course looks at the functions, characteristics and pathology of the human body, including bone, skin and muscles. These include the endocrine, nervous, integumentary and other body systems. In this course, you learn how to analyze and categorize these functions and characteristics.
Healthcare Law, Policy and Regulations
In a healthcare law, policy and regulations course, you can expect to learn about how our legal system relates to our healthcare system in the U.S. This includes criminal and fraud issues, tort law, information management and reporting, patient rights, contracts and antitrust, and legal implications for medical personnel. You might study how state and federal laws apply to patient care and healthcare in general.
What Can You Do with a Healthcare Administration Associate Degree?
An associate degree in healthcare administration qualifies you for entry-level administrative and clerical positions in hospitals, doctors’ offices, assisted living facilities and other types of medical offices. We have listed a few popular positions for graduates below. You may notice some overlap in job duties, which vary depending on the job requirements and type of medical office.
We sourced our salary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Payscale.
Medical Records Specialist
Median Annual Salary: $47,180
Minimum Required Education: An associate or bachelor’s degree is typically required, but a high school diploma or GED certificate may be enough for some jobs. Many employers also require additional certification in medical billing and coding.
Job Overview: Medical records certified collect data about patients’ medical conditions, test results, treatments and other information, and enter it into their medical records. This involves classifying and coding patients’ medical procedures, diagnoses and other relevant information. They store this confidential data electronically so it can be used for insurance reimbursement.
Health Information Technologist
Median Annual Salary: $58,250
Minimum Required Education: An associate degree is typically required, but some employers prefer or require a bachelor’s degree. You may also need additional certification.
Job Overview: Health information technologists use information technology (IT) knowledge and skills to evaluate, maintain and provide support for computerized healthcare systems. This may include storing and managing patient information, training staff members to use computerized health records systems and analyzing data.
Median Annual Salary: $38,500
Minimum Required Education: Associate degree
Job Overview: Medical secretaries schedule appointments, record patient information in electronic systems, collect co-payments, write correspondence, order supplies, manage staff members, and perform other secretarial duties to support physicians and other medical practitioners. They typically work in hospitals, doctors’ offices and other medical offices. Medical secretaries must be well-versed in medical terminology and procedures.
Patient Services Representative
Average Annual Salary: Around $42,000
Minimum Required Education: You need at least a high school diploma or GED certificate, and many employers require work experience in a healthcare setting. Earning a degree may help you earn promotions and raises.
Job Overview: Patient services representatives work directly with patients, checking them in for appointments, gathering data, entering their information into computer systems, scheduling appointments, collecting payments and completing paperwork. These professionals are often the first points of contact for patients at hospitals, clinics and other medical offices, so they play an important role in providing a high-quality patient experience.
Medical Office Administrator
Average Annual Salary: Around $68,000
Minimum Required Education: You need a high school diploma or GED certificate, along with related work experience. Some employers require a degree or certificate.
Job Overview: Medical office administrators handle the day-to-day operations at physicians’ offices, assisted living facilities, urgent care clinics and other medical practices. Depending on their job’s specific requirements, these administrators may handle insurance and billing, maintain patient files, schedule patient appointments, provide a welcoming waiting area, and perform other administrative duties.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Healthcare Administration Associate Degrees
How long does it take to earn an associate degree in healthcare administration?
It typically takes two years to earn your degree, but you may require more or less time, depending on whether you study part time or full time. In addition, you may find accelerated programs that allow you to finish your degree requirements more quickly.
What degree is best for healthcare administration?
As with any field, this depends on your goals. If you plan to work in an entry-level position or earn a bachelor’s degree at some point, an associate degree may benefit your career path. If you want to work in higher-level positions, however, plan to earn a bachelor’s degree and possibly a master’s in healthcare administration.
Is healthcare administration the same as nursing?
No, they are not the same. Nursing careers involve caring for patients’ physical needs; tasks may include inserting IVs, administering medication, monitoring vital signs, and assisting during medical procedures or surgeries. Healthcare administration involves performing administrative or managerial duties required in the day-to-day operations of medical offices and healthcare facilities.