There are many career options available to individuals interested in health and aging services.  Being a
health and aging services executive should be at the top of your list!  Why?  Read on to learn more about the
and rewards you can expect with this exciting career.

Why Health and Aging Services?

What is a Health and Aging Services Executive?

Health and aging services executives provide a sense of giving and fulfillment through daily interactions with residents and staff members. Individuals in this profession strive to improve the quality of life and quality of care for residents and clients in their care communities. These professionals also work to improve their surrounding cities and neighborhoods through the activities provided in care communities or a person's home. Health and aging services executives lead and coordinate many key departments that provide essential support to residents, such as administrative and human resource tasks, budgetary and financial tasks, direct care for residents and clients, move-ins and move-outs, maintenance and site improvements, and activities for residents.1 Their goal is to provide the most effective care for residents, with an emphasis on hospitality and the creation of a home-like environment, all while having efficient business operations within their care community or their company. In addition, this career has multiple job opportunities for growth within and between companies. The job security for this profession is growing every day, due to the fact that the health care field is diversifying in services provided and that the
aging population(i.e., those 65 years of age or older) is increasing rapidly.2

Why Have Others Become a Professional in Health and Aging Services?

“I chose this profession because I love creating clarity from chaos and I love the older adult population. 
In this career, I was able to mix my love for medicine with my love for business.”  Tris Rollins

I chose this field because it mixes many professions – clinical/medical, human resources, legal, and business. The benefits of this field include job demand, salary, benefits, caring for vulnerable adults, and making an actual difference in our health care system.”  – Spencer Beard

“When I started out, I didn’t know I wanted to be an NHA. But once I saw the impact I could have, the creativity in the position, the leadership process, and the ability to be self-managed, I found this profession very appealing. I think a benefit is definitely being able to make a difference in people’s lives and grow as a person.”  – Sara Starcher

“I chose to become an administrator because I knew that the market for jobs in long-term care was going to be strong for many years to come. I enjoy health care, business, and working with people – and this field offers all three. I enjoy coming into work on a daily basis and interacting with staff, residents, and their families.”  – Trevor Davis

Job and Salary Prospects

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for this field is estimated to increase by 20% from 2016 to 2026. As of 2016, there were about 352,200 health care executives in this field and the BLS gauges the projected employment in 2026 will increase to be about 422,000.3 Upon graduating, professionals in this field can expect to earn approximately $60,000 to $70,000 per year.1  In 2016, the average pay for health and aging services executives was $96,540. Most professionals in this field work about 40 hours per week and 30% reported working more than 40 hours.3

Health and aging services executives can work in a variety of settings, such as nursing homes, assisted living centers, continuing care retirement communities, life plan communities, independent senior living, and home- and community-based services.4,5 Some abilities required of health and aging services executives include ethical leadership, maturity, honesty, and effective communication skills.  Not only do these professionals work within a care community, they may also travel for association meetings, site visits to other communities, and educational conferences.  As an administrator, individuals need to adapt to the constant changes in the health care environment. This includes legal and regulatory changes, technological advances, and changing consumer and purchaser demands for better quality health care.1

Educational Programs

The most prevalent educational level for this career is a bachelor's of science (B.S.) or a bachelor’s of arts (B.A.) degree,
depending on the university issuing the degree.3 Some states may require health care-specific coursework
for licensure, and some individuals will return to school to pursue a master’s degree at some point (e.g., MBA,
Mastersof Health Administration).  When deciding which school to attend, individuals should be aware if the school
is accreditedand who the accrediting organization is. The National Association of Long Term Care Administrator
Boards( NAB ) accredits college and university programs that are focused on long-term care administration, either at
the baccalaureate or graduate level. Students graduating from programs with NAB accreditation tend to have higher
scores on NHA licensure exams and are often better prepared for the profession they are about to enter.1 Another
certifying organization for educational programs in this area is the Association of University Programs in Health
Administration ( AUPHA ), which certifies university programs at the baccalaureate and graduate levels in health
care management and policy education. Their goal is to foster excellence and drive innovation in health management
and policy education.  Lastly, the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education ( CAHME ) accredits
graduate programs only (e.g., MBA, MHA, MHSA, MPH) in healthcare management ​education.  Information on three of
these organizations can be found at the links above.   

The following educational programs are partners and sponsors of the annual NELS Summit: 
- Department of Health Services and Senior Living Leadership, Bellarmine University
- Department of Health Policy and Management, The George Washington University
- The Erickson School, Management of Aging Services Program, University of Maryland - Baltimore County
- Health Care Administration Program, University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire
- Health Care Administration Program, Western Kentucky University.

Licensure Information

Once individuals have completed their schooling, each new health and aging services executive may be required to get licensed as a health and aging services administrator, which is mandatory for all nursing home administrators, required in several states for assisted living, and is currently required in one state for home- and community-based services. Depending on which state an individual wishes to work in, NAB suggests that each person research whether the state requires a nursing home administrator, assisted living administrator, or home care operator license to practice (some states require multiple licensures depending on the lines of service operated in a care community). New executives will also have to check to see what each state requires for continuing (CEs) education once obtaining their initial licensure.

Another opportunity administrators can look into is the Health Services Executive (HSE) qualification from NAB.  Individuals who have never been licensed will need to sit for a core of knowledge exam that covers all three lines of service (e.g., nursing home, assisted living, and home- and community-based services), and then a line-of-service specific exam for each of these areas, to obtain the HSE qualification.  Licensed nursing home administrators with three (3) years of experience can provide NAB with current licensure information (e.g., state of license, educational degree) and take additional 50-item examinations (one for assisted living and one for home- and community-based services) to obtain the HSE qualification.  When NAB grants someone the HSE designation, that person will have more flexibility to work in multiple lines of service and move between states that have adopted the NAB HSE standard.

Support for You from Associations and Organizations

American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA)
The American College of Health Care Administrators provides opportunities for members of all ages to
connect with one another to better understand post-acute and aging services. Their vision is “to be the
premiere membership organization providing professional leadership and professional development
opportunities for post-acute and aging services health care leaders.  Dynamic leadership forges post-acute
and aging health care services that are desired, meaningful, successful, and efficient.” ACHCA thrives by
active members participating in their mentoring program, which allows the newer professionals to network
​with administrators already in the field.

Access their site here:

American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL)
The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living focuses on providing
quality care for disabled and elderly adults in long-term and post-acute settings.  Their mission
statement is “improving lives by delivering solutions for quality of care.”  AHCA/NCAL develops public
policies that are needed to ensure the best quality of care and quality of life for individuals in proprietary
and not-for-profit care communities around the country. AHCA/NCAL allows sites to apply for the
National Quality Award Program to promote performance excellence. Sites can apply for the Bronze,
Silver, and ​Gold awards, which show the quality of care provided to residents and reflects how executives
​can make positive changes within their care community.                   

Access their site here:
The vision of LeadingAge is “an America freed from ageism.”  LeadingAge wants to bring awareness
to all members that executives and leaders should encourage people to live fully throughout their
life course.  There are three different types of memberships within LeadingAge, and the association 
also has a year-long Leadership Academy, which is designed to develop the leadership capacities and
core competencies of aging service professionals across the continuum of care and services. The
organization focuses on education, advocacy, and applied research while representing not-for-profit
organizations ​spanning the entire field of aging services.

Access their site here:

National Investment Center for Seniors Housing and Care (NIC)
NIC takes great pride in allowing users to gain knowledge about the health care field. Their mission
statement explains that “the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) works to
enable access and choice by providing data, analytics, and connections that bring together investors
and providers.” When obtaining information, NIC provides its members with multiple research-based
pieces of information, such as Seniors Housing, and Care Market Performance Report and The State
of Seniors Housing reports. This tool is helpful for individuals that are interested in finding out data

related to property performance, primary market competition, opportunities in identifiable markets,
and risk management. 

Access their site here:

Argentum is an active believer in supporting companies that professionally operate resident-centered
senior living communities. Argentum’s mission is “to promote choice, dignity, independence, and
quality of life for seniors. To support this mission, Argentum influences public policy, promotes
business excellence, and ensures an informed public.” The organization is always looking into ways
to make the health care field more suitable for older adults. Ending in 2025, Argentum’s 10-year
outlook plan aspires to improve quality by creating certification programs and developing a workforce
to find qualified employees that will provide top notch care to older adults. The organization strives for
consumer choice in affordable care in long-term ​settings, operation excellence by providers, and an
​increase in communities for individuals with dementia.

Access their site here:   

1.  NAB website.
2.  United States Census Bureau.
3.  United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.
4.  LeadingAge website.
5.  AHCA/NCAL website.