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Career Info for a Health Information Technology Degree

Health information technology degrees typically cover medical terminology, health information management and more. Find out about the curricula of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for health information technology graduates.

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You can help medical professionals provide the proper treatment to patients by way of a career in health information technology. Postsecondary programs leading to a certificate or degree in health information technology can qualify you for a position. While technically voluntary, potential employers generally prefer that you hold professional certification.

Essential Information

Health information technology programs prepare students to process medical information using computer hardware and software. Degree programs in health information technology (HIT) are generally offered at the associate's degree level; certificate programs are also available in specialty areas such as medical coding or billing.

Career Titles Medical Records Technician Medical Transcriptionist
Required Education HIT-related certificate or associate's degree HIT-related certificate or associate's degree
Certification Optional certifications available Optional certification available
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 15% -3% (decline)
Median Salary (2015)* $37,110 $34,890

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Individuals interested in a career in the health care field that could potentially offer job security may be interested in health information technology positions. A degree or certificate program in health information technology can provide candidates with the tools necessary to find careers as medical records technicians and medical transcriptionists.

Medical Records Technician

Health information technology degree or certificate holders might find work as medical records and health information technicians. These employees use classification software to enter patient information into the system with codes so payment may be made through insurance, Medicaid or Medicare.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), health information technicians were expected to see an employment increase of 15% between 2014 and 2024. An increasing number of medical procedures, tests and treatments being performed is a contributing factor to the faster-than-average employment growth. Also contributing are the aging population and increase of number of cancer patients, stated the BLS. The BLS also reported that medical records and health information technicians' median annual wage was $37,110 as of May 2015.

Medical Transcriptionist

Medical transcriptionists convert voice recordings from doctors and other healthcare professionals into written reports. Transcriptionists need to be able to interpret medical terminology and abbreviations in order to accurately report a patient's medical condition and history. The BLS predicts that employment opportunities for medical transcriptionists will decrease three percent from 2014-2024. In 2015, the BLS reported that these professionals made a median salary of $34,890 per year.

Certification

Medical record and health information technicians are not required to be certified, but some employers prefer to hire individuals who are certified, according to the BLS. Certification can be obtained through several organizations by passing an examination. Candidates who have graduated from a two-year health information technology program can obtain the Registered Health Information Technicians (RHIT) credential through the AHIMA by passing a written exam. Medical coders can also earn coding credentials through the American Academy of Professional Coders, Professional Association of Health Care Coding Specialists and the Board of Medical Specialty Coding.

In the foreseeable future, employment opportunities for medical records technicians are projected to increase at a much faster rate than the national average for all occupations, while jobs for medical transcriptionists are expected to decline. Employers require that you hold a postsecondary certificate or degree to be hired. In addition, in order to enhance your employment and advancement possibilities, it's advisable to obtain any professional certifications available to you.

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