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Records Management Degree and Certification Program Info

Students who wish to specialize in records management often pursue bachelor's degrees in health information management or master's degrees in library science. Learn more about these degree options, career information, and additional education.

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Essential Information

Students of the bachelor's program in health information management option may first focus on the general education aspects of their curricula. The Registered Health Information Administrator certification can be earned from the American Health Information Management Association. Experienced candidates must attain sufficient scores on a multiple-choice test to qualify for the designation.

In a Master of Library Science in Archiving degree program, students prepare to become librarians. While enrolled, they could gain the skills necessary to effectively manage digital records. Students might choose areas of specialization and complete either an internship or a thesis before graduating. Program graduates who have the necessary experience can pursue professional credentials such as the Certified Records Manager (CRM). They must pass an examination that is administered by the Academy of Certified Archivists.


Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management

Records management involves the preservation, reproduction and security of information and is a necessary element of several industries or professions. Most students interested in a career as a health information manager pursue a Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management. This 4-year degree program helps students develop the professional and technical skills needed to design and monitor information systems and security for patient records. Students spend their last two years taking courses that teach the skills they need in healthcare administration; often, these degree programs include a practicum or capstone experience where students can use the skills learned in a working health care setting. In general, students are only required to complete a high school diploma for admission to a health information management program.

The first years of the program are usually devoted to general requirements in the liberal arts, sciences and humanities. Later course topics usually touch on management, medical vocabulary and the technical skills needed in healthcare administration. Common course topics include the following:

  • Healthcare data management
  • Electronic health records
  • Human resources management
  • Medical coding
  • Database security
  • Medical ethics

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Master of Library Science in Archiving

A Master of Library Science (MLS) is a 2- to 3-year degree program that prepares students for a professional career as a librarian. Most MLS programs offer sub-specializations in several fields of library science; one popular specialization within this master's degree program is archives and records management. Students learn practical skills in designing and managing digital records, as well as exploring preservation and archiving techniques and the legal concerns of records curating. Most programs require students to research and write a thesis or complete an internship in their final year.

In order to qualify for admission, students are typically asked to complete a bachelor's degree in any field of study. Many schools also request that students submit their scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

Courses teach practical skills in information technology or software commonly used in the information science industry, theory and copyright law. Students who specialize in archiving or records management may pursue elective courses that teach preservation techniques for various materials, record selection and other course topics, often including the following:

  • Economics of records preservation
  • Archive appraisal
  • Manuscript preservation
  • Ethics of library science
  • Electronic record keeping systems

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of health services managers - including health information managers - is expected to increase 17% from 2014-2024, with a particular rise expected in outpatient settings such as health practitioners' offices. The BLS reports that in 2015, the median annual wage of medical and health services managers was $94,500.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment of archivists was expected to increase 7% between 2014 and 2024; graduates with specialized skills in a subdiscipline, such as records management, would most likely have the best opportunities among archivists (www.bls.gov). The BLS also indicated in 2014 that archivists earned an annual median wage of $50,250.

Continuing Education and Certification Information

Many employers seek to employ candidates who've earned certification in health information management. Many students therefore seek certification as a Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). The exam consists of multiple-choice questions and is four hours long (www.ahima.org). In order to qualify for the exam, a student must have completed a bachelor's degree or graduate certificate program in health information management.

Though not necessarily required, many graduates pursue certification to demonstrate professional competence. Some popular certifications are the Certified Records Manager (CRM) from the Institute of Certified Records Managers and the Certified Archivist (CA) from the Academy of Certified Archivists. In order to qualify to sit for these exams, professionals must hold at least a master's degree in a related subject and have several years of professional experience.

Students interested in managing records have the option of a Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management degree program or a Master of Library Science in Archiving degree program. Graduates can look forward to a career as a health services manager, librarian, or archivist.

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