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How to Become a Medical Records Technician

What Does a Medical Records Technician Do?

medical records tech at her computer

A medical records technician (MRT) occupies one of the few positions in healthcare requiring no hands-on patient care, yet it is one of the most important jobs in the industry. Health care providers rely on the information in a patient’s medical records in order to diagnose and treat the patient successfully. The medical records technician plays a vital role in properly maintaining these records of patient medical history.

Every day, people make tens of thousands of visits to doctors and hospitals across the country, and each one of these visits involves a patient’s medical record. The doctor reviews a patient’s history as described in the medical record prior to or during a patient’s visit, and then conveys in written or spoken notes the nature and content of the current visit. These notes detail symptoms, possible diagnoses and follow-up actions, such as prescribing medications or further testing.

A medical records technician – now more commonly referred to as a health information technician (HIT) – transfers the data from a doctor’s notes into a patient’s permanent medical record, and the accuracy and timeliness of this data is all-important to appropriate patient treatment.

Another common role for the technician is often the specialization of coding diagnosis and procedures based on the care a patient received so that the organization can be reimbursed for those services. This is known as coding. Coding is used not only for reimbursement but also for research and various registries for data reporting and trending.

A career as a medical records technician provides an excellent opportunity for detail-oriented individuals who enjoy the privilege and responsibility of ensuring top quality care without the patient contact that most healthcare positions require.

Workplace Details

For the medical records technician, hospitals are the most common work environment. Technicians usually work in roles that ensure the quality of the medical record is complete and accurate. Where paper charts are still utilized, technicians may be involved in scanning and indexing the paper documentation so that it can be displayed correctly in electronic form. When there are discrepancies or deficiencies in the documentation, they will work with professional staff such as physicians and clinicians to ensure the documentation is complete and accurate.

In addition to hospital settings, MRTs are also employed in other areas where health information is used, like insurance companies, software vendors, pharmaceutical companies, physician practices, rehabilitation centers, home healthcare agencies, nursing homes, and government agencies.

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

Salaries vary depending on education, experience and geographical location. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical records technicians make an annual median salary of $37,110; the bottom 10% earn a median of $24,190 and the top 10% earn a median of $61,400. MRTs who have gained experience with electronic health records generally command higher salaries, as do those with solid coding skills. Jobs with hospitals and the government generally pay better than jobs in doctor’s offices or extended care facilities.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment of medical records technicians to increase by 15% between 2014 and 2024, which is significantly faster than the average for all occupations. So what is causing this huge growth? Experts say that the aging of the U.S. population is increasing demand for all types of medical services. The emergence of electronic health records has also created new opportunities for MRTs with strong computer skills.

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 a Medical Records Technician

1

Obtain a degree.

Aspiring medical records technicians should enroll in a two-year associate degree program, making sure that the program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management (CAHIIM). While still in high school, students with an interest in this career can prepare by taking classes in health science subjects such as biology and human health, while also taking classes in computers, math and business. Many vocational schools now offer programs to help young people explore the growing field of health information management. There are also opportunities to take online courses to assist the student with preparation for work in this field.

2

Get certified.

Most employers prefer to hire registered or certified medical records technicians. The most common certification is as a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT), gained by passing an examination administered by AHIMA. Being credentialed by AHIMA opens the door for career advancement, thus improving salary earnings potential, enabling better networking with peers in similar roles, and assisting with lifelong learning through continuing education.

3

Maintain your professional status or move up the ladder.

To maintain the designation of RHIT, AHIMA requires 20 hours of continuing education every two years. As medical records technicians gain experience and additional training, there will be opportunities for promotions and raises, especially in larger medical settings such as hospitals or large practice groups. MRTs who show an inclination for lifelong learning and obtain a bachelor’s degree in health information technology will have the best opportunity to advance into supervisory or administrative positions. Such positions with greater responsibility bring higher salaries as well.

Exploring Degree Paths

ASSOCIATE DEGREE

2 years

A two-year degree in health information technology will prepare the budding medical records technician for certification and entering the workplace. As you survey the landscape of schools and degrees, you may notice that there are Associate of Science (AS) degrees in HIT as well as Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degrees in the same subject! Both degrees take two years, and both will prepare you for certification and entering the workforce.

While this is confusing, it’s important to consider one key difference between the two degrees: the AAS is typically designed for those whose goal is not to pursue a four-year degree in the future. The credits earned in an AAS degree program won’t necessarily transfer into a bachelor’s degree program. Think about your short- and long-term goals before making this decision; if you predict that you may want to pursue a four-year bachelor’s degree in HIT in the future, you would probably be better served obtaining an AS degree in health information technology rather than an AAS degree.

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Common coursework includes the following example subjects among others.

Intro to health information systems

Introduces students to health information technology and, in the process, also serves as an exploration more broadly of our healthcare system.

Medical coding

Learn about ICD-10 coding methods so as to be able to assess reports about medical procedures and then build the appropriate codes for them.

Human anatomy and physiology

Learn about the human body’s different anatomical systems and structures, along with their functions.

Medical terminology

A course that reveals the meaning behind various terms, shorthand, prefixes and suffixes used in medicine.

BACHELOR'S DEGREE

4 years

To advance their career, many health information technicians choose to pursue Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degrees in health information management (HIM). As its name suggests, this degree prepares students for management of health data and health information systems. HIM degrees also allow graduates to assume managerial roles over a department of HIT professionals. After completing the bachelor’s degree, students are qualified for RHIA certification (registered health information administrator).

Coursework for this degree includes the following example subjects.

Health data management

Learn how databases are designed and managed.

Disease pathology

Study the various diseases that afflict various portions of the human body.

Financial concepts in health care

Students learn about the concepts surrounding providers, consumers and payers in healthcare, as well as budgeting and financial management.

Legal aspects of health information

Students gain knowledge about the legal system and laws that shape and influence health care and HIM.

Keys to Success as a Medical Records Technician

Necessary Skills and Qualities

Attention to detail

The best medical records technicians tend to have a natural attention to detail, gaining satisfaction by seeing loose ends tied up in an organized way. The ability to stay focused in a fast-paced environment while maintaining close attention to detail and an efficient workflow are important qualities of the MRT.

Good ethics

Because health information is confidential, MRTs are expected to have a high degree of ethical integrity, avoiding any inappropriate sharing of details.

Good judgment

The job nearly always involves following established guidelines, typically under supervision, but there will be times when the technician must exercise his or her own judgment to interpret certain notes and records.

Communication

This position also involves careful communication with medical and business staff. Most medical settings are quite busy, and everyone working in this environment must be patient and courteous while interacting with a wide variety of coworkers.

Additional Credentials

For the health information technician, additional certifications can be obtained in order to increase individual marketability. These include:

  • Specialized certifications for medical coding, such as CCS (certified coding specialist) or CCS-P (certified coding specialist, physician-based). This certification is administered by AHIMA.
  • Healthcare privacy and security (CHPS) certification – this credential speaks to a tech’s expertise in privacy and security aspects of health information management
  • Certified tumor registry (CTR), administered by the National Cancer Registrars Association, qualifies the technician to contribute to the nationwide effort of classifying diagnoses, treatments and outcomes of all cancers and tumors. The maintenance of databases allows this information to become a powerful tool in the battle against cancer.
  • Health data analysis (CHDA) – this certification from AHIMA confirms a tech’s mastery of the skills necessary for health data analysis
Wendy James, RHIA, PMP

With over 25 years of experience in health information management, project management and information technology, Wendy James is passionate about improving health information for individuals and providers. Throughout her career, Wendy has experienced first-hand the transition from paper to electronic health records. Today she is a senior quality control engineer at a prominent software vendor in the Atlanta area. Wendy is responsible for ensuring quality software development for the document management business.

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