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How to Become a
Health Information Technician (RHIT)

Find your career path in HIT

Employment of Health Information Technology (HIT) professionals is expected to increase 16% from 2022-2032, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).* An education in Health Information Management (HIM) helps you prepare to build a career in a rapidly growing field.

You can make an impact behind the scenes in the field of healthcare by managing the complex information systems engineering the business of modern healthcare. Working as a health information technician, technologist, or medical registrar can be a great first step towards a long career in HIM. Here are the general steps to become a health information tech:

  1. Understand the role
  2. Choose your pathway
  3. Earn an education
  4. Get certified1
  5. Find your first job
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Health Information Technologist Meeting with Healthcare Staff

1. Understand the role: what does a health information tech do?

The overall role of health information technicians and registrars is to design, develop and maintain health information systems. Technicians work closely with both medical coders and health administrators to maintain, analyze, and optimize these systems.

Health Information Technician (also known as Health Information Management Technician or Medical Records Technician) is a vital professional in the healthcare industry who plays a crucial role in managing and organizing patient health information.

Health Information Technicians are responsible for maintaining and organizing patient medical records. They ensure that all medical records are accurate, complete, and up to date. HITs review medical records for completeness and accuracy, flagging any discrepancies or errors that need correction.

They enter patient information into Electronic Health Records (EHR) systems, ensuring that all data is accurately recorded. They may also assign medical codes to diagnoses and procedures for billing and insurance purposes, using systems like ICD (International Classification of Diseases) and CPT (Current Procedural Terminology) codes.2

HITs are responsible for upholding patient confidentiality and ensuring the security of sensitive medical information. They must comply with relevant laws and regulations, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

2. Choose your career pathway

The first step towards a career in HIM is earning a degree in health information management.

You’ll need to decide on the level of education you wish to pursue based on your career goals and the positions you aspire to hold. An associate degree in HIM may be enough for entry-level roles, while higher-level positions and leadership roles may require a bachelor's degree (or even master's degree, in some cases).

Our HIM program courses include medical terminology, health data management, healthcare coding systems, healthcare ethics, and health information technology.

You may also choose to pursue the longer-term managerial track and consider a bachelor’s degree program. Graduate a from our HIM bachelor’s degree program and you can qualify for the Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) exam.

3. Earn an education

Once you’ve determined your short and long-term career goals, you’re ready to take the first step. The associate degree is designed to completely transfer into the bachelor’s degree—so you can start the shorter associate degree path today and potentially advance to a bachelor’s in the future.

To get started, review each of our online health information management programs:

Health Information Technologist Reading Notes in File Folder
  • Program length: 20 months
  • Credits to graduate: 63
  • Aligned certification: RHIT
RHIA with Bachelor's Degree in Health Information Management Reading Files and Notes on Computer
  • Program length: 36 months
  • Credits to graduate: 124
  • Aligned certification: RHIA
Waived Enrollment Fee

Now Through June 30th

4. Get certified1

After graduating with an associate degree in HIM, you’ll be eligible and ready to sit for the RHIT certification exam.

Passing the RHIT exam is an extremely important step! Getting certified shows employers you’re capable of succeeding at the job and can potentially impact your salary. According to a 2019 survey from AHIMA, 31% of respondents identified certification level as a key influencer for promotion, the most popular choice after experience and education level.

Is the RHIT certification exam hard?

The test is designed to be challenging enough to ensure you’ve got the skills and knowledge to excel at the job. According to AHIMA, among 1,709 first time testers in 2022, 71% achieved passing scores.

Graduating from our CAHIIM-accredited associate degree HIM program makes you fully eligible to sit for the RHIT exam and ready to pass.

Frequently Asked Questions

You can make more than $190,000 at the highest positions in HIM medical and health services, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Medical and health service managers reportedly earn an average salary of $134,440 per year ($64.64 per hour).*

It all depends on your level of degree attained, certifications and experience in HIM. The ladder is tall and educated prospects are in high demand. Read more about the average salary for health information management jobs typically requiring an associate's or bachelor's degree in HIM.

With Herzing University you are never alone. It’s our goal to provide all students an affordable, career-driven education. Financial aid options include:

You can find an estimate for tuition and expenses by using the Herzing University tuition wizard.

The primary difference is:

  • Healthcare management refers to the practices and procedures involved with operating and supervising hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
  • Health information management involves the collection, analysis, maintenance and security of a healthcare facility’s billing, research, quality improvement and credentialing.

Both fields combine high-level business and day-to-day functions of a healthcare environment to support the delivery of excellent patient care.

Discover more details about the difference between healthcare management vs. health information management.

Given the increased demand in the industry, wide range of jobs you can pursue and the average salary you can earn, going back to school and earning your degree in HIM is definitely worth it. It’s a field with high growth potential and excellent career mobility.

Certification is not a requirement for all health information management professionals, but it will give you an advantage in finding the job of your choice.

Two credentials in particular – RHIA and RHIT – can help you get your first job or push your career in health information management to the next level. Read more about what health information management certification is right for you.

There are a few primary differences between medical billing and coding and health information management.

Those who work in medical billing and coding, who may be referred to as medical records specialists, play a key role in the healthcare revenue cycle, ensuring Electronic Medical Records (EMR) are assembled accurately and entered into health information systems properly. They communicate with healthcare staff, insurance companies, and patients to best represent services provided (coding) and secure payment for those services (billers).

Health Information Management professionals (sometimes referred to as Health Information Technology – HIT) are responsible for maintaining, analyzing, and optimizing these systems. Their role is more on the backend, emphasizing informatics and Information Technology (IT). These professionals create, manage, and analyze the systems billers and coders rely on to maintain the Electronic Health Record (EHR). They can also play a wider role in data analysis, management, protection, and administration of patient health information.

Finding your place and succeeding in your career depends on your strengths in relation to the skills needed in health information management, including:

  • Analytical skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Communication and teamwork
  • Technical skills
  • Leadership skills

Because of the increased need for data-driven decision making and growth of information technology in healthcare, health information managers must be adept on the execution or managerial side of day-do-day tasks. Those strong on both sides can find great career success in HIM.

5. Find your first job

Earn RHIT certification and you’ll be highly qualified for a job as a health information technician. It’s time to polish your resume and get ready to interview! Here are some common job roles and settings where HITs can work:

HITs can find employment opportunities in various healthcare settings, including hospitals, clinics, physician offices, nursing homes, insurance companies, government agencies, consulting firms, and healthcare software companies.

We are here to help you every step of the way. We want to help you discover a fulfilling, rewarding career in the field of HIM. You are possible with Herzing University.

Learn more about our HIM program options


1. Certification enhances employment opportunities but is not a state specific requirement.

2. The medical billing and coding pathway aligns with different certifications and will not qualify you to sit for the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) certification from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).

* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics 2023 / Occupational Outlook Handbook 2022. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.

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