Clerical Health Care Career Options and Requirements

Sep 30, 2019

Clerical health care worker is generally an office administrative position in a medical environment. Continue reading for an overview of the training, as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

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Clerical health workers handle administrative duties in a medical office, hospital or clinic. Four typical positions in this field are secretaries, records clerks, coders, and transcriptionists, most requiring at least some special training.

Essential Information

Clerical health workers are responsible for taking an administrative role in a medical setting. Clerical health workers can fill different types of positions such as administrative support worker, medical records clerk, medical coder, and medical transcriptionist. There are entry-level positions available with a high school diploma but there are specialized training programs available to those who want to further their career and become more marketable to employers.

Career Administrative Support Medical Records Clerk Medical Coder Medical Transcriptionist
Education Requirements High School Diploma Associate's degree or certificate program Coding certification program Associate's degree or certificate program
Other Requirements On-the-job training and optional vocational training program Possible specialized training in medical related classes Work experience and continuing education program
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) -9% for administrative assistant* 11% (much faster than average; for medical records and health information technicians)* 11% (much faster than average; for medical records and health information technicians)* -3% (decline)*
Average Salary (2015) $38,030* $44,010 (for medical records and health information technicians)* $44,010 (for medical records and health information technicians* $36,350*

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Career Options for Clerical Health Care Workers

Administrative Support

The administrative staff may be the first point of contact between a patient and a physician in either a doctor's office or hospital. Administrative staff members maintain the office, organize files, book appointments for patients and arrange meetings for physicians.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment for administrative assistants in all fields is expected to decline by 9% between 2018-2028. Those employed in medical settings earned an average annual wage of $38,030 in 2018, the BLS said.

Medical Records Clerks

Medical records clerks compile patient health information such as medical history, test results and examination results for physicians. They communicate with physicians and health care providers to obtain additional information about patients.

Due to an increase in the aging population and the demand for medical services, the BLS has stated that employment growth for medical records and health information technicians is expected to be 11% in the ten-year period between 2018-2028. The average annual salary for those in this profession was $44,010 in 2018, according to the BLS.

Medical Coders

Medical coders usually work in the billing department of a health care organization. Coders are responsible for assigning a specific code to each medical procedure provided to the patient. This code indicates which insurance provider will be billed for services. The average annual salary for those in this profession was $44,010 in 2018, according to the BLS.

Medical Transcriptionists

Medical transcriptionists, or transcribers, convert doctors' audio dictation to text documents. They assist with reports, articles and correspondence between the physician, patient and health care organization. They can be responsible for transcribing everything from referral letters to autopsy reports. Medical transcriptionists need to be familiar with medical terminology and procedures in order to provide accurate reports.

Employment in this field is projected by the BLS to decline by 3% from 2018-2028, with technological advances in medical transcribing software expected to limit this growth as less actual transcription is conducted. Medical transcriptionist earned an average annual wage of $36,350 as reported by the BLS in May 2018.

Education and Training Requirements for Clerical Health Care Workers

Most clerical health care workers start at entry-level positions and advance through promotion. The minimum education level for an entry-level position, such as administrative support, is a high school diploma. For those with no office support staff experience, training can be attained either on-the-job or through vocational programs. Some community colleges offer 1-year and 2-year office administrative programs that can be applied to the health care field.

Medical records clerks have generally completed an associate's degree program. Some may have specialized training or coursework in medical terminology, anatomy, physiology, medical billing and medical coding.

Those wanting to become medical transcribers can complete specialized training programs in order to learn industry language and protocol. This can be completed through associate's degree and certificate programs.

Medical coders usually need to receive coding certification and obtain work experience. Coding certification is offered through the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), the Board of Medical Specialty Coding (BMSC) and the Professional Association of Health Care Coding Specialists (PAHCS). Medical coders should enroll in continuing education programs in order to stay current in their field.

Although medical administrative support positions can be obtained with only a high school diploma, the BLS predicts slow job growth for these positions, and the financial compensation is not high. However, with an associate's degree or certification, a job seeker can apply for records clerk and coder positions, both of which are in higher demand and have higher compensation. Post-secondary education in medical transcription is also an option, but with modern improvements in speech recognition software, the demand for medical transcriptionists is in decline.

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