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How to Become a Health Care Consultant

Written by: North Carolina Central University   •  Jun 5, 2024

A health care consultant talking on the phone, holding a bag and folders.

How to Become a Health Care Consultant

In any type of health care organization, meeting every patient’s needs takes significant coordination. There are appointments to schedule, treatments to provide, and a number of financial and administrative tasks to track. Falling behind on any of these duties can leave patients uncared for and staff disgruntled.

To prevent that from happening, many health care organizations turn to health care consultants. These dynamic administrators help organizational leaders identify issues and implement creative solutions. For those interested in how to become a health care consultant, it’s important to understand their duties, where they work, and how earning a degree in health administration can prepare individuals for this complex career.

What Do Health Care Consultants Do?

The primary responsibility of a health care consultant is to streamline a facility’s operations. This can include improving the facility’s day-to-day efficiency as well as meeting its long-term goals. They do this by:

  • Analyzing relevant data and presenting it to organizational leaders
  • Making recommendations about policy changes
  • Collaborating with staff and administrators to enact changes
  • Measuring the effectiveness of new policies and procedures

The specifics of these duties depend on whether a consultant is trying to improve an organization’s financial operations, patient outcomes, employee development, or legal policies.

Financial Operations

For many health care consultants, the primary goal is to improve an organization’s financial operations. This can involve:

  • Reviewing budgets and making projections
  • Negotiating with contractors
  • Advising administrators about where to invest resources
  • Writing grants and seeking funding
  • Fostering partnerships with local organizations

By helping organizations get their finances in order, consultants lay the groundwork for improved patient services.

Patient Outcomes

When patients receive treatments, they often have one outcome or goal in mind: to be healthier. But it’s also important that they walk away feeling respected, supported, and more educated about their health. By administering and reviewing surveys, health care consultants can learn what changes must be made to ensure patients get the well-rounded care they deserve.

They can use the information they collect in these surveys to help administrators fill gaps in training, care, and staffing. This is often especially important in facilities that treat patients with long-term illnesses that can affect their mental health. Consultants can also research local public health data to discover ways they can help providers offer better services to marginalized groups.

Employee Satisfaction and Development

As of May 2024, the Health Resources and Services Administration reports that the country needs almost 30,000 more primary care, mental health, and dental health practitioners. Health care consultants can play a pivotal role in quelling this crisis by helping organizations create balanced schedules, invest in mental health resources for staff, and budget for compensation that attracts and retains skilled professionals.

When health care organizations violate financial, safety, or information privacy laws, they risk putting themselves and their patients in jeopardy. For example, between April 2003 and April 2024, the Department of Health and Human Services investigated almost 31,000 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) violations. In 145 cases, the HHS imposed fines totaling over $142 million.

Becoming a health care consultant requires knowing how to handle previous violations and prevent future ones. This includes reviewing policies, establishing violation reporting systems, and ensuring the organization and its employees are properly trained and licensed.

Where Do Health Care Consultants Work?

Instead of working directly for health care organizations, many health care consultants are employed by medical consulting agencies. More experienced professionals are self-employed or run their own consulting firms.

Every kind of health care facility, including public and private hospitals, outpatient clinics, and residential care facilities hires health care consultants. Health care consultants also are hired by more specialized types of organizations.

Health care consultants commonly work in:

  • Private practices
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Insurance firms
  • Community-based clinics
  • Senior living communities and skilled nursing facilities
  • Addiction recovery and mental health care providers
  • Local, state, and federal health departments
  • Nonprofit organizations that advocate for equitable health care and provide services to underserved communities

Health Care Consultant Salary and Job Outlook

According to Payscale, the median annual salary for health care consultants is about $86,350 as of May 2024. The top 10% of earners reportedly make around $131,000 and up. The type of organization a consultant works for, their geographic location, and their level of training can affect an individual’s salary.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment in the health care management sector to grow by 28% by 2032. About 54,700 job openings are projected to be available each year. In the same time frame, employment in all sectors of the economy is only expected to grow by an average of 3%. Based on these projections, health care management seems to be one of the fastest-growing fields in the country.

Skills and Education: How to Become a Health Care Consultant

Successful health care consultants are excellent communicators, creative problem solvers, and personable collaborators. In addition to these traits, consultants typically need a well-rounded knowledge of medical and business administration. Acquiring this knowledge usually requires a few years of education and experience.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s in Health Administration

A bachelor’s degree is typically the minimum education required to become a health care consultant. Many future professionals earn a bachelor’s in health administration to learn the leadership and technical skills needed to become a consultant.

Most health administration programs include classes on:

  • Financial planning and budgeting
  • Personnel management
  • Research and data analysis
  • HIPAA regulations, insurance law, and other legal matters
  • Health informatics
  • Information technology
  • Health care ethics

Many programs offer several electives that allow students to study specific areas of health care such as geriatrics, pediatrics, and nonprofit management.

Step 2: Gain Experience and Pursue Certifications

After earning their degrees, aspiring health care consultants can seek an entry-level role. New consultants often support more experienced professionals by conducting research and data analysis, preparing reports, and meeting with staff.

To hone their skills, early-career consultants pursue certifications in areas such as:

  • Legal compliance
  • Health information administration and analytics
  • Risk management
  • Health care financial management

Certifications aren’t typically required but can enhance a professional’s job prospects.

Step 3: Earn a Master’s Degree (Optional)

Consultants who wish to work independently or attain high-level positions often pursue a master’s degree. A master’s degree isn’t necessarily required for advanced positions but can help professionals find more opportunities.

Learn How to Make Health Care More Effective and Accessible

While health care consultants can make organizations more efficient and profitable, they have the power to do so much more. As a historically Black university, North Carolina Central University is committed to empowering students to address disparities in boardrooms and waiting rooms alike.

In our online Bachelor of Science (BS) in Health Administration program, students learn how to engage and advocate for underserved communities while using ethical frameworks to help lead health organizations to success — financial and otherwise. Through hands-on capstone projects, they also get the opportunity to test their new skills with their current employer or a community partner.

If you’re interested in becoming a health care consultant, read more about NCCU’s online BS in Health Administration degree completion program, explore the curriculum and financial aid options, and get started on your new career today.

Recommended Readings

What Can You Do With a Health Care Administration Degree?

Long-Term Care Administrator Salary & Job Description

Health Promotion Specialist: Overview and How to Become


Department of Health and Human Services, Enforcement Highlights

Health Resources and Services Administration, Health Workforce Shortage Areas

Indeed, “What Is a Health Care Consultant? (And How to Become One)”

Payscale, Average Healthcare Consultant Salary

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Medical and Health Services Managers

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