Health care administration is a rapidly growing field, with a number of online degree options available. Students interested in an associate in healthcare administration can expect to complete courses in medical terminology, medical records management, health care reimbursement, health care management systems, health care law and ethics, and computer technology. Depending on the specific school, specialization tracks may include medical transcription, medical billing and coding, or medical office administration, among others. Graduates are prepared to fill these entry-level positions at physicians’ offices, hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes.
Why an Associate Degree?
Students interested in a relatively quick entry into the growing health care industry may be drawn to certificates or associate degrees that focus on building relevant job skills. These include training for medical billers or coders, medical transcriptionists, or medical office assistants. Classes typically cover both computer and administrative skills as well as medical industry information. An associate degree program will include a general education curriculum with courses in composition, mathematics, natural science, social science, and humanities. This can serve as a great foundation if you ever decide to continue on to a bachelor’s degree program.
Getting Into an Associate Degree Program
Regardless of whether you are returning to school after a few years off or just graduated from high school, it is important to understand what you will need for the admissions process. Below are some common eligibility requirements for an associate degree program:
- A high school diploma or GED test scores
- Any transcripts from other college course work
- Application form and fee
- Application essay (if required)
Inside a Healthcare Administration Associate Degree Program
Students interested in earning their associate degree in healthcare administration online, should expect approximately two years of full-time study. Factors such as any breaks taken from the program, the number of courses taken each term, and applicable transfer credits can all influence this estimate. Major courses may focus on a specific occupation within health care administration, such as medical billing and coding or medical transcription. Common curriculum classes include medical terminology, health care law and ethics, health care delivery systems, medical records management, and computer technology, among others. General education classes will also be required for associate degree students.
Since most online classes run in an asynchronous format, students have access to the virtual learning platform 24/7. This allows them to log in and complete assignments, participate in group discussion boards, review materials, and contact their professors at any time that works with their personal and professional schedules. Additionally, any internship or clinical practice requirements can be arranged in the student’s area for maximum convenience.
What’s Next for Healthcare Administration Associate Degree Holders?
Those who complete a degree are prepared with the technical skills and industry knowledge they need to pursue entry-level administrative jobs with hospitals, doctors’ offices, and clinics. Specific opportunities may vary based on your area of specialization, such as medical billing and coding, medical records management, or medical transcription. Please note, most employers will prefer to hire candidates with professional certification. If you attend an accredited program, you should be prepared to sit for the applicable certification exam. These may include certification through the American Medical Billing Association, American Academy of Professional Coders, American Health Information Management Association, or the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity, among others.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the demand for medical records and health information technicians is expected to increase by 26% over the projection period of 2010 to 2020. This is much faster than the average growth of 14% anticipated for jobs overall. As of 2011, the mean annual wage was $35,920 for those working in this occupation. Please keep in mind, this may not reflect starting salaries or actual job availability in your area.