Health Technician Education Requirements and Career Information

Health technician is a general term applying to technicians working in the healthcare industry. Continue reading for an overview of the programs and coursework offered in this field, as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

Essential Information

A minimum of an associate's degree is usually required for a career as some type of health technician, and professions in the field may require certification. A health technician may choose to specialize in areas such as therapeutic health, mental health, or heath information, and undergraduate coursework is determined therein.

CareersTherapeutic Health TechnicianMental Health TechnicianHealth Information Technician
Education RequirementsAssociate's or Bachelor's Degree (in most cases)Associate's Degree or Certificate Program (in most cases)Associate's Degree (in most cases)
Job Growth (2012-2022)41%* (physical therapist assistants and aides) 41%* (occupational therapy assistants and aides)5%* (psychiatric technicians and aides)22%* (all medical records and health information technicians)
Median Salary (2014)$47,810* (respiratory therapy technicians) $54,410* (physical therapist assistants) $56,950* (occupational therapy assistants)$31,130*$35,950* (all medical records and health information technicians)

Career Options

Careers for health technicians include therapeutic health technician, mental health technician, and health information technician. Therapeutic health technicians work in fields such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and respiratory therapy, while mental health technicians treat patients as part of psychiatric team in hospitals or clinics and health information technicians manage patient records.

Therapeutic Health Technician

Therapeutic health technicians are found in a variety of fields, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy and respiratory therapy. They assist licensed therapists in providing treatment for patients with debilitating injuries or medical conditions.

Education Requirements

Education requirements vary based on the therapeutic field, but most jobs require an associate's or bachelor's degree. Depending on state requirements, some therapeutic health positions may also require certification. Coursework often includes medical terminology, communications and anatomy, as well as study in the specialized field.

Career Information

Some therapeutic health technicians may choose to further their careers by continuing their educations to become licensed therapists or therapeutic managers. They may also advance through on-the-job experience and specialized certifications.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job prospects for therapeutic health technicians varied greatly by field. Between 2012 and 2022, physical therapy and occupational therapy technicians were expected to experience healthy growth in employment opportunities (www.bls.gov).

In May 2014, physical therapy assistants made a median salary of $54,410 per year, while occupational therapy assistants earned an average of $56,250. Respiratory therapy assistants had a median annual wage of $47,810.

Mental Health Technician

Mental health technicians usually work as part of a psychiatric team in providing treatment to patients, often in a hospital or mental health clinic. Their duties can include monitoring medications, working in therapy sessions and completing administrative tasks.

Education Requirements

Educational requirements for mental health technicians often vary according to state and institutional requirements. Most employers hire applicants who have had formal training in mental health technology, such as an associate's degree or certificate program. Coursework often includes psychiatric terminology, behavioral management and abnormal psychology.

Career Information

The 2014 median annual wage for mental health technicians was $31,130, according to BLS data. The number of positions in this field was projected to grow by 5% between 2012 and 2022.

Health Information Technician

Health information technicians manage patient records in a variety of settings, including medical centers, doctor offices, clinics and hospitals. Many technicians specialize in certain types of medical records management, such as records coding, insurance claims or patient billing.

Education Requirements

The majority of health information positions require applicants to have an associate's degree, and some also require credentials from a professional organization. Coursework in health information programs often includes classes in medical terminology, medical coding systems and database management. Certification requirements vary according to the organization, but most involve a written exam following graduation from a degree program.

Career Information

Many health information technicians advance in their careers by furthering their educations or obtaining advanced certification in a specialized field of records management. Techs with an advanced degree in health information often assume managerial positions within a health care organization.

According to the BLS, the job market for health information techs was predicted to be quite strong. Employment was expected to increase by 22% between 2012 and 2022. As of May 2014, the median salary for health information techs was $35,900.

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