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Salary of a Hospital Chief Operating Officer

by Beth Greenwood

Many hospitals have both a chief executive officer, or CEO, and a chief operating officer, or COO. These two positions are the most senior in the organization, with the CEO setting the organization’s direction and developing long-term strategy, while the COO concerns herself with the daily operations. The COO may report directly to the CEO or to the board of directors. COOs are well-compensated for their work.

About the Job

Senior-level executives such as COOs typically have a master’s degree and work long hours -- 60 to 70 hours a week or more, according to the American College of Healthcare Executives. They must have advanced leadership and financial skills, be able to represent the organization to governing boards and in the community and have a good grasp of issues such as health care financing, quality, regulations and customer service. In addition to their base salaries, COOs may receive compensation in the form of bonuses, incentives and stock options, so the salary is not necessarily reflective of total compensation.

Average Salaries

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics groups hospital COOs with other general and operations managers and reports the average annual salary for this group was $114,850 in 2012. ACHE reports base salaries at the COO level typically range from $150,000 to $250,000 in managed care systems. In acute care, ACHE reports COOs in hospitals with less than 100 beds had a median base salary of $130,000. COOs in hospitals of 350-499 beds earned approximately $190,000.

Independent Hospitals and Health Systems

A May 2012 article in “Becker’s Hospital Review” reported the median base salary for COOs in an independent hospital was $265,000 in 2011, while the average base salary was $283,800. Median total cash compensation was $287,900 and average total cash compensation was $319,900 annually. In independent health systems, which typically have more than one hospital, the median base salary for COOs in 2011 was $389,000 and the average base salary was $414,400. Median total cash compensation was $430,900 and average total cash compensation was $491,900 annually.

A Significant Rise in Salary

Compensation for senior executives such as COOs is often based on quality metrics and patient satisfaction, which may be used as measurements for bonus pay or incentives. According to a September 2012 article in “Becker’s Hospital Review,” COO pay climbed 14.6 percent from 2007 to 2012. The average COO salary was $194,261 in 2007 and $222,709 in 2012. The article noted that in the 2012 survey, most of the survey respondents were single hospitals rather than multiple-hospital systems, with revenues between $35 million and $199 million.

About the Author

Beth Greenwood is an RN and has been a writer since 2010. She specializes in medical and health topics, as well as career articles about health care professions. Greenwood holds an Associate of Science in nursing from Shasta College.

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