Health Information Technology Careers

What Do HIT Professionals Do?

health information technologists with equipment

Health information technology careers enable remarkable new opportunities to bring value to health care while lowering costs and enabling efficiency, with the goal to avoid medical mistakes. Those with a dual passion for ICT (Information and Communication Technology) and medical sciences have a great career possibility in the field of health information technology (HIT).

The timing for such a career choice could not be better: medical doctors now confront a huge procedural shift from previous methods to interaction with a standardized digital record and new electronic-based processes. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) has mandated that doctors and hospitals adopt electronic health records (EHRs), which are also known as electronic medical records (EMRs). The relationship between physician offices and Healthcare institutions is strengthened by a sound EHR system and by qualified individuals committed to accurate and available EHRs.

According to an analysis by the Rand Corporation, “If most hospitals and doctors’ offices adopted HIT, the potential efficiency savings for both inpatient and outpatient care could average over $77 billion per year.” These massive savings are expected to come from more efficient drug prescriptions; reduced administrative time for doctors and nurses; and reduced time of hospital stays as a result of better scheduling, coordination and increased safety, and quality.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said back in February 2012, “Health IT is the foundation for a truly 21st century health system where we pay for the right care, not just more care.” Today, HIT workers enjoy robust job prospects. Additionally, HIT and healthcare will continue to grow into the foreseeable future. Health information technology professionals will continue to be on the front lines of implementing, managing, and directing technologies and process changes in their day-to-day work. The medical community calls upon them to find the best ways of sharing information - with the patients themselves as well as between providers, insurance companies and government agencies - without compromising patient privacy.

Workplace Details

The medical community relies on HIT specialists in all geographical areas of the country and within all types of medical settings - private practices, hospitals, home health agencies, nursing homes, mental health facilities and public health agencies. The immediate tasks confronting an HIT professional are qualified by the current degree to which the employer has transitioned to electronic handling of patient information. Often the HIT professional’s tasks shift as the technology is adopted, changed, or enhanced.

As these healthcare facilities select and implement new hardware and software systems, they must also provide educational programs to train medical staff in their usage. Information technology professionals accept the challenges of optimizing these new systems as medical staff mature in their adoption and use. Owing to their significant responsibilities, these specialists expect full-time workloads and demanding schedules, often including an on-call rotation and some travel.

Salary and Job Outlook

State
Average Wage
California
$48840
Texas
$39710
Florida
$40810
Ohio
$39000
New York
$45060

Hover over any state to explore local income and job growth data.

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ALABAMA
Median Salary: 
$29,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $52,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 18%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 110

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Birmingham$21,520$31,860$56,310
Huntsville$20,440$33,400$50,270

ALASKA
Median Salary: 
$43,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $32,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $62,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Anchorage$32,310$41,540$58,830
Fairbanks$40,260$45,870$63,150

ARIZONA
Median Salary: 
$36,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $64,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 22%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 310

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Phoenix$26,230$36,970$68,770
Tuscon$22,740$35,610$54,050

ARKANSAS
Median Salary: 
$31,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $49,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 70

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Little Rock$23,530$36,490$53,910
Fort Smith$17,600$24,070$45,300

CALIFORNIA
Median Salary: 
$43,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $26,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $77,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 20%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 790

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Los Angeles$26,890$43,050$76,080
San Francisco Bay$33,800$53,820$90,660
San Diego$26,120$39,680$74,070
Sacramento$28,500$46,980$78,270

COLORADO
Median Salary: 
$45,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $29,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $71,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 32%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 140

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Denver$32,420$51,630$76,510
Colorado Springs$28,550$39,580$57,010

CONNECTICUT
Median Salary: 
$43,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $28,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $65,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 50

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Hartford$27,620$40,060$63,630
Bridgeport$27,600$39,910$57,550
New Haven$32,950$51,330$69,140

DELAWARE
Median Salary: 
$38,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $27,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $52,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Wilmington$29,100$40,410$57,680
Dover$26,120$31,300$51,540

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Median Salary: 
$48,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $32,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $104,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Washington DC$29,720$46,370$76,730

FLORIDA
Median Salary: 
$36,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $24,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $61,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 24%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 440

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Miami$24,370$37,450$66,720
Orlando$27,410$39,890$55,720
Tampa$25,500$37,370$64,290
Jacksonville$24,400$36,810$58,720

GEORGIA
Median Salary: 
$34,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $22,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $57,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 23%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 190

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Atlanta$24,170$36,270$58,950
Augusta$24,630$39,550$55,500

HAWAII
Median Salary: 
$44,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $73,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Honolulu$31,860$48,710$75,020

IDAHO
Median Salary: 
$34,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $23,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $49,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 330

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Boise$26,330$35,600$49,720
Idaho Falls$20,670$24,780$38,910

ILLINOIS
Median Salary: 
$36,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $23,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $61,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 260

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Chicago$25,430$39,750$65,950
Rockford$23,430$32,710$53,270

INDIANA
Median Salary: 
$33,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $23,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $54,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 18%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 170

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Indianapolis$25,110$35,760$60,940
South Bend$23,500$33,920$47,490
Fort Wayne$25,470$36,210$56,490

IOWA
Median Salary: 
$37,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $56,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 70

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Des Moines$25,080$37,730$57,200
Cedar Rapids$25,580$37,240$61,640

KANSAS
Median Salary: 
$33,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $22,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $53,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 11%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 90

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Wichita$22,310$31,810$51,130
Kansas City$25,930$36,320$56,720

KENTUCKY
Median Salary: 
$34,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $22,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $54,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 27%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 230

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Louisville$22,640$34,900$53,910
Lexington$22,560$34,260$55,760

LOUISIANA
Median Salary: 
$30,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $47,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 21%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 130

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
New Orleans$21,370$31,190$46,110
Baton Rouge$21,230$29,710$51,300
Lafayette$21,500$29,920$45,380

MAINE
Median Salary: 
$35,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $50,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Portland$27,050$36,730$54,430
Lewiston$26,460$37,420$48,380

MARYLAND
Median Salary: 
$46,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $27,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $73,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 20%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 270

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Baltimore$27,840$46,040$73,040
Frederick$32,710$53,060$78,700

MASSACHUSETTS
Median Salary: 
$42,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $28,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $68,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 7%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 170

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Boston$31,380$46,700$71,160
Worcester$27,840$41,280$70,750
Springfield$27,290$40,070$59,580

MICHIGAN
Median Salary: 
$36,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $23,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $57,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 130

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Detroit$23,190$35,410$56,120
Grand Rapids$25,870$34,950$48,420

MINNESOTA
Median Salary: 
$44,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $32,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $60,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 120

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Minneapolis - St. Paul$32,580$44,410$59,800
Rochester$34,950$48,390$64,120

MISSISSIPPI
Median Salary: 
$28,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $18,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $47,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 90

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Jackson$21,400$31,130$50,060
Gulfport$20,390$31,560$54,970

MISSOURI
Median Salary: 
$36,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $24,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $57,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 170

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
St. Louis$25,510$40,760$59,030
Kansas City$25,930$36,320$56,720

MONTANA
Median Salary: 
$31,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $22,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $55,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 19%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Billings$22,360$36,670$72,060
Missoula$21,930$30,290$47,200

NEBRASKA
Median Salary: 
$37,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $26,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $56,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 60

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Omaha$28,850$38,670$57,250
Lincoln$26,210$35,540$53,030

NEVADA
Median Salary: 
$40,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $26,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $63,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 27%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 80

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Las Vegas$26,750$42,170$63,440
Reno$26,300$39,180$67,220

NEW HAMPSHIRE
Median Salary: 
$36,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $26,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $57,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 14%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Manchester$26,610$37,340$50,690
Nashua$26,360$34,830$54,180

NEW JERSEY
Median Salary: 
$58,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $35,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $82,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 8%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 60

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Newark$40,940$60,980$94,310
Trenton$28,270$51,060$72,910

NEW MEXICO
Median Salary: 
$30,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $51,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 50

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Albuquerque$21,380$31,450$54,990
Las Cruces$20,180$24,300$42,650

NEW YORK
Median Salary: 
$41,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $26,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $63,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 360

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
New York City$30,670$46,540$73,580
Buffalo$27,730$41,600$61,190
Rochester$25,800$36,960$54,310
Albany$23,810$32,780$49,630

NORTH CAROLINA
Median Salary: 
$33,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $23,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $51,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 20%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 220

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Charlotte$23,360$33,380$50,250
Raleigh$23,740$33,250$51,240
Greensboro$22,680$29,930$45,030
Winston - Salem$24,550$39,940$58,100

NORTH DAKOTA
Median Salary: 
$38,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $51,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 23%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Fargo$30,160$42,110$56,970
Bismarck$21,590$34,880$50,160

OHIO
Median Salary: 
$36,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $56,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 280

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Cleveland$25,110$36,050$54,250
Columbus$26,370$35,490$51,340
Cincinnati$27,820$39,380$63,150
Dayton$24,980$30,830$48,880

OKLAHOMA
Median Salary: 
$31,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $51,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 140

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Oklahoma City$20,250$31,890$54,000
Tulsa$23,240$30,860$52,790

OREGON
Median Salary: 
$41,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $26,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $60,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 18%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 130

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Portland$28,650$43,270$60,660
Salem$26,450$41,150$58,770

PENNSYLVANIA
Median Salary: 
$36,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $55,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 280

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Philadelphia$26,890$37,580$60,380
Pittsburgh$25,650$36,090$52,590
Harrisburg$25,580$38,940$60,630
Allentown$23,510$32,370$49,770

RHODE ISLAND
Median Salary: 
$39,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $26,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $58,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 6%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Providence$26,000$38,430$57,980

SOUTH CAROLINA
Median Salary: 
$32,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $22,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $54,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 110

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Greenville$22,170$31,140$49,100
Columbia$21,740$35,330$58,950
Charleston$24,430$35,690$53,110

SOUTH DAKOTA
Median Salary: 
$35,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $57,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Rapid City$25,870$36,410$56,970

TENNESSEE
Median Salary: 
$31,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $22,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $52,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 29%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 230

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Nashville$24,790$33,290$58,460
Memphis$21,340$32,560$60,970
Knoxville$21,720$29,960$46,040
Chattanooga$21,280$34,220$62,220

TEXAS
Median Salary: 
$35,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $61,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 30%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 870

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Dallas - Ft. Worth$25,790$39,900$69,550
Houston$21,890$38,500$63,350
San Antonio$21,280$34,220$62,220
Austin$21,180$32,770$57,040

UTAH
Median Salary: 
$35,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $58,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 32%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 90

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Salt Lake City$26,000$36,800$61,360
Ogden$21,850$29,900$48,150

VERMONT
Median Salary: 
$36,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $26,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $59,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 8%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Burlington$26,900$35,030$57,820

VIRGINIA
Median Salary: 
$36,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $58,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 18%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 160

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Virginia Beach$25,610$33,850$48,440
Richmond$24,410$32,060$53,000

WASHINGTON
Median Salary: 
$40,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $28,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $62,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 190

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Seattle$31,160$44,090$67,590
Spokane$26,580$33,860$51,140

WEST VIRGINIA
Median Salary: 
$32,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $51,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 8%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 50

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Huntington$22,340$33,910$57,110
Charleston$21,020$29,350$44,540

WISCONSIN
Median Salary: 
$37,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $26,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $59,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 8%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 150

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Milwaukee$26,130$39,430$61,400
Madison$28,620$39,880$58,510

WYOMING
Median Salary: 
$36,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $24,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $57,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Cheyenne$26,090$41,530$58,890
Casper$25,740$36,610$66,380

Average salaries reflect wide ranges in pay depending on geographic location, type of employer, qualifications of the individual, and his or her position within the broad spectrum of healthcare IT. An IT manager, for instance, could earn a median salary of $135,800, while a health information technician earns a median salary of $38,040, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The chart, interactive map and salary comparison graph in this section will help you explore salary and job growth expectations for health information technicians.

Salaries and costs of living will tend to be higher in large metropolitan areas. Other factors being about equal, when comparing those with associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees, pay increases as the amount of education and training increases. The job outlook in health information technology is stronger than average, with about a 15% growth projection through 2024.

U.S. health systems must continue to eliminate waste, add value, and reduce cost while continuing to improve patient health outcomes and effectiveness. HIT will continue to attract the interested individual who wants to be a part of an industry in transformation.

Compare Salaries by City

Los Angeles CA Median Pay

$43050 Per Year

$20.69 Per Hour

New York City NY Median Pay

$46540 Per Year

$22.37 Per Hour

Steps to Become an HIT Professional

1

Earn your college degree in an appropriate major.

Prospective HIT specialists seeking future advancement will need a minimum of an associate (two-year) degree in computer sciences and/or information technology. The Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) accredits informatics programs. Those who attend schools without this specific major or focus are urged to study computer science, math (including calculus and statistics) biology and medical terminology. Prospective health IT professionals must acquire solid knowledge of data base construction and management.

Show Me Schools »

You may also enjoy a competitive advantage by gaining specialized knowledge, such as in bioinformatics, the application of ICT to the mountains of genetic data being generated by researchers on a weekly basis.

It is conceivable that someone with an appropriate bachelor’s degree, such as in math or biology, could follow that up with extensive training in computers from a top level vocational school, or through specific courses focused on HIT. Sources such as CompTIA (Computing Technology Industry Association) offer certifications for the Health Care IT Technician- designed to help educate and fill the gap of available positions. The Healthcare Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) recognizes professionals who have passed the “Certified Professional Health Information Management Systems” examination.

2

Get certified.

For positions specific to Health Information Management, the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers certification of two types: Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) and Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA). Candidates gain this certification by passing the corresponding test administered by AHIMA. An associate degree is a prerequisite for RHIT certification, while a bachelor’s degree is needed to sit for the RHIA exam. For those taking the RHIT or RHIA for the first time, a little over 70% will pass. AHIMA provides full information on the nature of the tests as well as recommended preparation and resources.

3

Advance your career.

There are numerous opportunities for career advancement within the HIT field from introductory through administrative roles. Work experience tends to give people deeper knowledge in certain specialized areas, which can be parlayed into job and salary advancement either with a present employer or elsewhere.

The ability to learn, unlearn and relearn definitely helps HIT workers stand out within their group or department. Taking advantage of educational or experiential HIT opportunities broadens or freshens a person’s skill set, increasing value to an employer and opportunities for advancement. For example, professionals with a strong IT background can take courses to enhance their understanding of healthcare: clinical, business, or operations. Those with clinical or health business backgrounds can develop expertise in IT and can gain certification in health or clinical informatics, customer support, or in system and application maintenance.

Explore Degree Paths

ASSOCIATE DEGREE

2 years

Many current ICT professionals began careers in a healthcare related field – learning the IT profession on the job. However, health information technologists who hold an associate degree have several career advantages. Perhaps most importantly, an AAS in health information management (HIM) makes you eligible for certification as a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT). This credential is preferred or required by many employers.

Even if you don’t pursue certification, an associate degree makes it easier to find jobs and may allow you to command greater pay and responsibility. Generally speaking, workers with degrees have greater lifetime earnings than those with high-school diplomas.

Show Me Schools »

Aspiring health information technologists typically major in health information management (HIM), also called health information technology (HIT) at some schools. When choosing a program, verify that it’s accredited by the Council on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM).

Accredited HIM programs can be found at 4- and 2-year colleges, technical and career colleges, and online. State, nonprofit, and community colleges generally offer the best value and most reasonable tuition.

As a HIM student at the associate level, you’ll take classes in:

HIM science

Study how medical records are used by providers, payers, patients, and researchers.

Healthcare reimbursement

Learn about payment systems in medicine, including methodologies, regulations, and the use of data.

Health data management

Understand how electronic health records are structured, stored, secured, and regulated.

Health records law

Survey state and federal laws governing the use, communication, and storage of patients’ health information.

Other topics covered include healthcare workflow, medical coding, data analysis, and quality assurance.

BACHELOR'S DEGREE

4 years

Earning a 4-year degree can be a huge career step for health information technologists.

A bachelor’s degree will be helpful if you want to move into management or shape your organization’s HIM program at the system level. Also, a HIM bachelor’s qualifies you to sit for Registered Health Information Administer (RHIA) certification. This high-level credential is respected across the industry.

In order to become RHIA-certified, you must graduate from a CAHIIM-accredited program. State and non-profit private universities generally offer the best value and lowest cost. CAHIIM also accredits 39 online HIM bachelor’s programs, making it easy to study for this degree from just about anywhere.

HIM bachelor’s students typically spend years one and two taking general education classes and fulfilling their HIM prerequisites. Starting year three, they move into the professional curriculum, which includes classes in:

Revenue cycle management

Learn about the components of the healthcare revenue cycle and techniques to improve its performance.

Healthcare database administration

Practice designing and maintaining data infrastructures for hospitals, payers, and other healthcare entities.

Quality management

Understand how to measure and report quality indicators and support improvement efforts.

Clinical classification systems

Study the different coding systems used in healthcare reimbursement and medical research.

Most bachelor’s-level programs include an internship. During this experience, senior HIM majors work alongside veteran health information technologists to refine their skills.

Some schools also offer post-baccalaureate HIM certificates for students who already hold a bachelor’s degree in a different field. These programs take 1–3 years to complete, depending on the student’s experience and prerequisites.

MASTER'S DEGREE

1–3 years beyond the bachelor's level

Earning a master’s positions you as both an expert and a leader in the health information field. Having a graduate degree is important if you want to teach, conduct research, consult, or hold a high-level management position.

Students at the master’s level generally choose one of the following majors:

  • Health information management – organizes and manages patient data contained in health records to ensure its quality, accuracy, and security
  • Health information science – design and manage information systems that house and protect organizational and patient data
  • Health informatics – uses health data to optimize healthcare delivery systems, with emphasis on subjects like quality, efficiency, and safety

While few schools offer the health information master’s, there some excellent online options. For a list of accredited master’s programs, see CAAHIM’s website.

Students at the master’s level can take courses in:

Leadership development

Learn the skills you need to manage healthcare teams, including mentoring, problem-solving, teaching, and self-assessment.

Telemedicine

Study the technology and human factors involved in creating a successful telemedicine program.

Business intelligence

Practice acquiring, analyzing, and communicating data that will help a healthcare company to compete effectively.

Research project

Design and conduct an original study in the field of health information.

Many master’s levels programs include a work experience component (usually called practicum or internship). Depending on the program, master’s students may be required to write a thesis and participate in scholarly activities such as professional conferences.

Keys to Success as an HIT Professional

Necessary Skills and Qualities

Problem-solving and critical thinking

To meet new needs with solutions.

Strong verbal and written communication

Effectively liaising within healthcare and IT.

Attention to detail and to customer service

Meeting the needs of the internal department as well as those of clinical and business customers.

Quickness and flexibility

HIT requires the ability to quickly learn and adapt to a rapidly changing work environment. Both healthcare and IT continuously change.

Additional Credentialing Information

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) is the primary credentialing body for health information technologists. Certification in this field is voluntary, but preferred by many employers.

AHIMA offers two levels of generalist certification. Candidates must graduate from a CAHIIM-accredited degree program and pass a test:

AHIMA also offers a number of specialty certifications. Candidates must pass a test and meet education or experience requirements. Not all of these credentials are well known among employers, so ask your boss or mentor which ones make sense for you.

Many health information technologists also hold coding certifications:

Don Lindamood

Don Lindamood is a registered nurse who began his work in HIT in the early 80s. In 2006, a master’s degree in the field of HIT was conferred to Don from Erasmus University in Rotterdam. Don’s love of travel and his HIT background are symbiotic. Through email or on LinkedIn, available at: Lindamdw@live.com.

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