Health care is a booming industry in many respects, and the management side of the field is no exception. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the job market can add more than 70,000 jobs for medical and health services managers by 2028, a rate of growth that outpaces the national average by more than double.
Long term care administrators should see a significant portion of that growth, given that a large cohort of Americans is currently aging into the demographic most likely to make use of long term and residential care facilities. Earning a degree in long term care administration can teach you how to coordinate and manage teams that provide care for the elderly and the disabled.
It's important to note that degree programs for long term care administration and health care administration aren't quite the same. Health care administration programs tend to cover a broad spectrum of care settings, while long term care administration programs concentrate on covering long term care specifically and in depth.
Read on to learn more about long term care administration degree programs and how they can prepare you to hit the ground running after graduation.
People are generally familiar with the more common health care professions we encounter in clinics and hospitals, but you may be asking: What is long term care? The dedicated care of elderly and chronically disabled people requires a specific set of knowledge and skills that can go beyond the scope of most general medical practitioners.
Long term care administrators learn what it takes to work with such special populations and develop the knowledge necessary to manage the teams who give them the care they need. We take a look at the two most common education levels for long term care administration in the upcoming section.
How long does a long term care administration bachelor's degree program online take?
Bachelor's degree programs in long term care administration typically take around eight semesters of study to complete. Those attending school on a part-time basis tend to have a longer total time to completion — as much as six years, in some cases — while full-time students typically complete their curriculum in around four years.
What are the requirements to start a long term care administration bachelor's degree program online?
Most long term care administration programs can admit students who meet the basic bachelor's degree enrollment requirements, which typically include a high school diploma or equivalent and proficiency in the English language. Some institutions may require that students take a set of prerequisite courses before officially declaring long term care administration as a major.
Why earn a long term care administration bachelor's degree online?
Earning your degree online can allow you to avoid some of the typical stresses of college life. You still have to attend lectures and complete assignments, but online programs for long term care administration often feature flexible asynchronous schedules that allow you to do so on your own time.
Lower division (years one and two)
The first four semesters of a bachelor's program in long term care administration tend to concentrate on familiarizing students with the health care system and providing foundational training in administration and management. Many programs also include study of the social sciences during this period, with courses such as developmental psychology and the sociology of aging.
Upper division (years three and four)
The junior and senior years of a long term care administration program begin to focus more tightly on the specific challenges of the long-term care environment, including training in medical ethics and law and the politics and policy of end-of-life care. You may also take advanced business administration courses in subjects like human behavior in organizations and corporate finance.
How long does a long term care administration master's degree program online take?
Time to completion can vary from one institution to another, but most master's degrees in long term care administration take between one and two years from enrollment to graduation. Part-time programs can take up to twice as long, and some schools may offer an accelerated schedule that can help you graduate in a year or less.
What are the requirements to start a long term care administration master's degree program online?
A bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university is the baseline admissions requirement for master's programs in long term care administration. Some institutions also feature a minimum GPA requirement, and programs for long term care nursing administrators may also require an active registered nurse (RN) license in the state where they're offered.
Why earn a long term care administration master's degree online?
Master's degree programs in health care administration are often undertaken by working professionals as a means to advance their existing careers. Online study can be a big help to students hoping to retain their existing jobs while they train for the more sensitive responsibilities that come with advanced positions.
The curriculum offered in graduate programs for long term care administration tends to consist of deep explorations with a narrower focus than typically taken at the bachelor's level. The first few courses in your master's degree plan are often designed to accustom you to this new approach, building on the upper-division work from your undergraduate degree with additional research and case-based instruction.
Capstone and specialization courses
If you choose to take on specialized study in a specific aspect of long term care administration, courses related to your specialization may dominate the second half of your master's program. You may also be asked to complete a substantial research paper or other final project before graduation.
Long term care administration is often offered as a concentration within a larger academic discipline, such as nursing or health care administration, but students may choose to focus their studies on a particular aspect of the field. Here are a few approaches available to long term care administration specialists:
There are a range of different working environments available in the long term care field, so there's a good chance that you can find a setting that lines up with your skillset and your employment goals. Entry-level salaries may not be much higher than the national average, but experienced professionals who stay at the top of their game can make as much as $100,000 per year.
Different job titles may be used by different facilities, so it's a good idea to read the full description of any job you're considering and make sure that you qualify. Here's a quick primer on a career in long term care administration.
Also known as long term care facility managers, nursing home administrators and residential care managers, long term care administrators spend their days managing health care facilities for the elderly and chronically disabled. Here's a list of some typical on-the-job responsibilities:
In many cases, long term care administrators are also in charge of directing building maintenance and other necessary duties regarding the facility grounds.
The majority of long term care administrators working in 2019 held a bachelor's degree, according to the Occupational Information Network (O*NET). Employers looking to fill senior positions may require that applicants hold a master's degree.
Licensing is also an important part of the profession. All fifty states and the District of Columbia require you to earn a long term care administrator license before you can begin managing a facility, although licensing requirements tend to vary from one state to another. Check with your state's health care administration board to learn about the requirements where you live.
Long term care certifications can also make you a more attractive job candidate for the right position. Some national credentials exist, while others are offered at the state level. Here's a short list of certifications that may be able to help you in your career:
Certification is optional in most cases, but some states may require that you become certified before you can earn your license. You may be able to take any necessary courses for your long term care administrator certification online, depending on the policies in place in your home state.
This comprehensive credential covers five essential knowledge areas in long term care administration: compliance, design & planning, operations & maintenance, administration and finance.
Requirements: Three years of professional experience for bachelor's degree holders, five years of experience for those with an associate degree and seven years of experience for those with no college degree.
Exam Format: 110 multiple-choice questions with a two-hour time limit.
How long does the certification last?: Must be renewed in three years.
Offered by the Senior Living Certification Commission (SLCC), this credential shows that you have the advanced knowledge and skills necessary to manage an assisted living facility at the executive level.
Requirements: Three years of experience in assisted living management or one year in an executive role for bachelor's degree holders; five years in management or three years as an executive for others.
Exam Format: 131 multiple-choice questions with a three-hour time limit.
How long does the certification last?: Expires in three years.
For long term care administrators with a nursing background, the End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) core curriculum can provide essential skills for long term care.
Requirements: No formal requirements are listed, but a nursing background is encouraged.
Exam Format: The curriculum is offered as a series of eight course modules that take roughly 11 hours to complete.
How long does the certification last?: The ELNEC core curriculum has no expiration date, but retaking the courses every few years can keep you up to date.
Several organizations exist that can help long term care administrators keep their skills current and advance their careers. Here's a little detail about four long term care associations that offer membership to professionals or students: