good assisted living administrator

What Makes a Good Assisted Living Administrator?

The continued growth of the retirement-age population in the U.S. is fueling the demand for assisted living facilities and the administrators and caregivers needed to run them. 

Few jobs can provide more fulfillment than helping aging seniors maintain their independence and zest for life. The U.S. Census Bureau stated in June 2020 that the number of people in the country who are 65 and older increased by more than a third in the last ten years.

Great assisted living administrators are passionate about providing important services to seniors in need of assistance with day-to-day activities or medical care. They have a deep concern for people’s well-being and happiness.

Additionally, people who are looking for professional growth opportunities, a favorable employment outlook, and high job satisfaction are attracted to this role. 

As the need for assisted living facilities continues to develop, the opportunities for an RCFE administrator career and other employment will also increase. The California Department of Social Services reports that the state currently has more than 7,400 licensed Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly and this number is expected to continue to grow. 

Could You Be a Part of This Expanding Career Field?

If you are looking for an employment opportunity that gives you personal satisfaction along with the chance to make a big difference in the lives of other people, take a close look at a career as an RCFE administrator

California provides a clear path to receiving your assisted living administrator certification, and with the variety of RCFE sizes and care models, you can surely find the right fit in this expanding field.

People often wonder if they are cut out for this type of career, so we have put together a list of hard and soft skills, personal traits, and necessary training that help lead to success in this high-demand profession.

What Are the Necessary Skills and Traits for an Assisted Living Administrator?

As you read through this list, don’t become discouraged if you feel you lack competence in any area. In many cases, you can learn skills or improve personal traits by taking RCFE classes or gaining experience working as a caregiver with the elderly. 

Start slowly by learning one new skill at a time and don’t be afraid to ask for advice from others who work in the field.

The California Department of Social Services has these basic qualifications for an administrator: having a good character and a continuing reputation of personal integrity; A high school diploma or equivalent such as a GED; at least 21 years of age.

Other requirements are covered below.

1. Business Operations Knowledge

This is foundational to the assisted living administrator skills required because, in spite of its noble purpose, an RCFE is a business. 

RCFEs must be financially sound in order to provide a caring and stimulating atmosphere for residents, support staff, and carry out daily goals for residents such as providing nutritious meals and energizing activities.

Some of the business knowledge needed to run and RCFE may include:

  • Setting up a budget
  • Keeping financial accounts current
  • Maintaining resident records
  • Interviewing, hiring, and supervising staff
  • Complying with state regulations
  • Marketing the facility and conducting tours
  • Overseeing food service
  • Organizing people, schedules, and countless details


Don’t panic at the thought of handling all these business responsibilities. 

If you begin as an administrator at a small facility, the duties may not be as rigorous as they sound, and you can gain expertise with time. 

You will also receive thorough training in these areas when you complete the assisted living administrator certification training required for licensure.

2. Communication Skills

Excellent communication skills are important in any career, but high-level skills are needed by the assisted living administrator to interact with different groups of people:

  • Residents
  • Family members
  • Staff
  • Regulatory agents
  • Community members

Administrators often utilize a slightly different approach with each type of group, but all written and verbal communications should be friendly, respectful, and easy to understand.

3. Listening Ability

Although good listening skills are part of communicating with others, they are so important for an RCFE administrator that we are listing this strength separately. Unless you learn to listen with your ears, eyes, and intuition, you can miss so much of what others are telling you.

Taking time to listen to residents shows respect, uplifts their spirits, and often gives you advance warning of issues such as depression or health changes. 

Listening to the concerns of staff members provides valuable insights into what is working and where improvements are needed. Giving attention to anyone who approaches you with an issue should always receive top priority.


4. Empathy and Compassion

When you put yourself in another person’s shoes and see things from that individual’s perspective, you can develop compassion for what they are experiencing. Whether the administrator is dealing with an unhappy resident, concerned family member, or a frustrated employee, showing understanding and kindness is always the right approach.

These personal qualities should be exhibited by everyone at the RCFE, and it is up to the administrator to emphasize the traits and help others develop them. 

Just as it is important to understand how employees may sometimes feel overwhelmed by difficult situations, an effective administrator helps staff members recognize why a resident may be acting out and how to approach the situation with compassion.

5. Integrity and a Sense of Responsibility

Not only are assisted living administrators accountable for the health and safety of the residents, but they also help determine the culture and mood of the facility by the way they carry out their daily duties and interactions. An effective administrator remembers this and approaches everything they do with sincerity and the good of the residents and staff in mind.


How Can You Get Started in This Amazing Career?

Very few careers are filled with so many rewards as working as an assisted living administrator, and the need for more facilities and managers grows each year.

Assisted living administrators must be forward-thinking, compassionate, organized, reliable, and patient. They must have the ability to balance budgets, meet strict state requirements for assisted living facilities and possess in-depth knowledge of assisted living services.

While the skills and qualities required for the position are extensive, they can be mastered through RCFE classes and the assisted living administrator certification course needed to obtain a California certificate to work as an RCFE administrator.

If you are ready to explore the possibilities of an assisted living administrator career, contact us today.


About Assisted Living Education
Assisted Living Education has been operating in and improving the growing senior care industry for over 15 years. Founded by certified RCFE administrators, Jane Van Dyke-Perez and Bill Perez, we have licensed more than 1,100 assisted living facilities and built close relationships with the California Department of Social Services, assisted living managers, owners and industry professionals. As senior living care educators ourselves, we strive to contribute our knowledge and skills to continually improve senior care and the satisfaction of those working in the industry.