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Healthcare Accounting Job Descriptions and Education Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to pursue a career in healthcare accounting. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and certifications to find out if this is the career for you.

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Internal auditors, bookkeepers and financial managers are just a few of the positions within the field of healthcare accounting. Bookkeepers may need only a high school diploma or an associate's degree, while financial managers and internal auditors need at least a bachelor's. Certification is common for many positions in the healthcare accounting field.

Essential Information

There are many different accounting positions available in the healthcare field, including internal auditors and financial managers. Educational requirements may vary, but most accounting careers in the healthcare sector require at least a two-year degree.

Career Title Bookkeeper Accountant Internal Auditor Financial Manager
Required Education High school diploma in some cases; many employers require postsecondary education Bachelor's degree; master's degree for some positions Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree; often a master's degree
Other Requirements Voluntary certification available CPA credential required for some positions CPA credential required for some positions Certified Healthcare Financial Professional designation typically needed
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) -8%* 11%* 11%* 7%*
Median Salary (2015) $37,250* $67,190* $67,190* $117,990*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Healthcare accounting positions are varied and can include bookkeeping, financial management, accounting and auditing. Read on to learn more about these career paths.

Bookkeepers in the Healthcare Industry

Job Description

Bookkeepers maintain financial records by recording all debits and credits posted by a healthcare facility. Depending on the size of an organization, a bookkeeper may take care of basic duties such as verifying purchases, balancing receipts, handling company payroll, and working with medical billers and coders.

Educational Requirements

Bookkeepers are required to have a high school degree; however, most employers prefer applicants to have a minimum of an associate's degree. While many bookkeepers are trained on the job, potential applicants may find schools with internship programs to help them gain experience.

Since bookkeepers in the healthcare industry may find themselves working in medical billing and coding, certification with the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers may be required. Many vocational schools offer certificate programs for those working in the medical billing and coding field.

Job Outlook and Salary Info

The number of employed bookkeepers and accounting clerks was expected to decline 8% between 2014 and 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. These professionals earned a median salary of $37,250 as of 2015.

Accountants in the Healthcare Industry

Job Description

Healthcare accountants are responsible for maintaining the financial records of healthcare organizations such as hospitals, health insurance companies, or private physician practices. Healthcare accountants must comply with federal, state, and local laws in accounting and healthcare management.

Educational Requirements

Most healthcare accounting positions require a minimum of a bachelor's degree in accounting. Some employers may prefer applicants with a master's degree in accounting or those with a master's degree in healthcare administration with a concentration in accounting. Several schools may offer professional training through internships to help those new to the field gain experience. Some organizations such as the Commission on Accreditation Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) may offer courses, workshops, and seminars to help professionals stay up-to-date with changes in the healthcare industry.

Job Outlook and Salary Info

The employment of accountants and auditors, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is expected to grow by about 11% between 2014 and 2024. The BLS indicated that accountants and auditors earned a median annual salary of $67,190 in May 2015.

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Internal Auditors in the Healthcare Industry

Job Description

Internal auditors usually check and investigate for any fraudulent practices within a healthcare organization. Internal auditors will review company procedures to make sure they are compliant with company and government regulations.

Educational Requirements

Like accountants, internal auditors must have a minimum of a four-year degree in accounting. Employers may also require applicants to have some education or experience in healthcare administration.

Since internal auditors in the healthcare field are providing auditing and financial reporting, they are required to obtain certification as Certified Public Accountants (CPA). Requirements for a CPA include a bachelor's degree in accounting, work experience, and passage of board examinations. Since academic and work requirements may vary by state, it is best to contact the state accounting board to find out specific requirements. Continuing education is usually necessary to maintain licensure.

Job Outlook and Salary Info

The BLS projects that job opportunities for both auditors and accountants will grow at an average pace between 2014 and 2024. The same source published that the median salary earned by accountants and auditors was $67,190 in May 2015.

Financial Managers in the Healthcare Industry

Job Description

Healthcare financial managers deal with the investment activities and prepare financial reports for an organization. Healthcare financial managers must stay up-to-date with issues in healthcare financing and be aware of special tax laws and regulations that affect the healthcare industry.

Educational Requirements

A minimum of a four-year degree in finance, accounting, economics, or business administration is required for financial managers, with some employers preferring applicants to have a master's degree. Most financial managers come from an accounting background and need to earn the Certified Healthcare Financial Professional (CHFP) designation.

Organizations such as the Healthcare Financial Management Association offer certification programs and seminars for those working in the healthcare industry. While not required, this certification may enhance an applicant's marketability. Academic and job experience may vary and continuing education is usually necessary to maintain certification.

Job Outlook and Salary Info

According to the BLS, the employment of financial managers as a whole is expected to increase by an average rate of 7% between 2014 and 2024. The median annual salary earned by all types of financial managers, including those who work in the healthcare industry, was $117,990 in May 2015, per the BLS.

Educational requirements for jobs in healthcare accounting range from a high school diploma to a four-year degree, while some employers like applicants to have an advanced degree, depending on the position. Projected job growth ranges from average to above average for financial managers, internal auditors, and accountants; bookkeepers have a negative projected growth rate.

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