There are approximately 15,600 nursing homes located throughout the United States. Each nursing home, depending on its size, needs administrators and assistant administrators to oversee its operation. Not-for-profit groups, corporations, and government agencies employ administrators in a variety of settings such as skilled nursing, intermediate care, and residential facilities. No matter what the facility is, however, each needs administrative leadership to ensure successful operation.
Do job opportunities vary from state to state? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2018 the states with the highest percent of its population aged 65 and older were Maine (20.6 percent), Florida (20.5 percent), West Virginia (19.9 percent), and Vermont (19.4 percent). It makes sense to conclude that opportunities for nursing home employment are most plentiful in areas with high concentrations of older residents.
A nursing home administrator is considered an advanced, executive position, so it is quite rare to land this job directly after graduation. Working as an assistant administrator is a more realistic mid-level management position. It is not uncommon for administrators to have one or more assistants responsible for different aspects of running the nursing home, especially at larger facilities. For example, one assistant administrator may be in charge of human resources and benefits, while another is assigned to keeping inventory and purchasing supplies. The administrator oversees the work of each assistant.
As a starting point for the career of administrator, however, you may begin as an activity director or, depending on the size of the facility, as an assistant to the activity director. Nursing home patients look forward to a variety of diversions to help make their stay pleasant and enjoyable. Coordinating weekly patient entertainment, such as bingo, arts and crafts, holiday parties, and other celebrations, are some of the duties of an activity director.
Other routes into this field include jobs that familiarize you with government agencies and case management.
It is hard to identify a typical route of advancement for the nursing home administrator, since this is already considered an executive position. Experienced administrators might choose to work for a larger nursing home with a bigger staff. If employed by a chain, administrators may advance by being transferred to other nursing home locations or promoted to the corporate office. Administrative positions at hospitals, health maintenance organizations, pharmaceutical companies, or national associations, such as the Red Cross, are other options for advancement. The skills and experience nursing home administrators possess, such as management and budgeting, can be easily applied to other areas of the corporate world.
Take a tour of a nearby nursing home, observe the activities, ask questions of the administrators, and if possible, interact with the residents.
Volunteer to help the elderly at a local nursing home or healthcare-related facility.
State licensure requirements for nursing home administrators vary from state to state. To find out the requirements in your state, go to: https://www.nabweb.org/filebin/pdf/State_Boards_Listings.pdf
Visit the U.S. Department of Labor State Apprenticehip Information Web site to explore opportunities at https://www.doleta.gov/oa/contactlist.cfm.