The healthcare field hosts many of the fastest-growing careers today. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), healthcare occupations are expected grow 15% and add nearly 2.4 million jobs by 2029.
Technology has played an evolving role in healthcare. More healthcare organizations look to digitize their patient records for greater efficiency and accessibility. For this reason, there is an especially high demand for health administration workers such as medical records technicians to manage and record patient information electronically.
Medical records technicians are primarily responsible for the record-keeping of confidential patient information. According to the BLS, the employment of medical records technicians is expected to increase by 8% from 2019 to 2029, faster than the national average of 4%. The BLS also reports that medical records technicians make a median annual wage of $42,630, with the highest 10% earning more than $71,150. There is potential to earn more as you advance in the field.
Ready to join this growing field? Here are the steps you need to take to become a medical records technician:
- Earn your degree
- Get certified
- Advance your career
1. Earn your degree
Becoming a medical records technician requires specialized training. While a postsecondary degree is not always required for entry-level positions, some medical records technicians choose to earn a diploma or an associate degree in medical office administration or a related field in order to gain an edge over their competition.
There are a couple of additional options to start your career as a medical records technician:
- Associate of Science in Health Information Management: An associate degree program in HIM will prepare you for an entry-level position as a medical records technician. At Herzing, students can get their associate degree in as little as 20 months. Because the program can be completed online, students can continue working full-time while earning their degree.
- Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management: This pathway provides the most opportunity for career advancement. In as few as 36 months, Herzing students can learn how to apply coding basics, business skills, management skills and more to the medical records and health information field. With experience, they can advance from medical records positions to leadership roles like medical and health services manager or health information management director.
Pursuing your degree is a great option for not only for differentiating yourself in the workforce, but also positioning yourself for advancement in the health information field.
2. Work toward a certification
Employers may prefer medical records technicians to have a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) certification or Registered Health Information Administration (RHIA) certification. Students with an associate degree in HIM will be qualified to take the RHIT certification exam, while graduates of the bachelor’s degree program are eligible to take the RHIA certification exam – both through the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).
Each certification denotes a slightly different skillset and, therefore, different career tracks. Those with an RHIA certification typically hold leadership positions, such as HIM directors that oversee the management of medical records. RHIT certifications prepare you for more technical positions that specialize in areas such as medical coding. While certification is not required by all employers, it could play a vital role in your career growth and earning potential. You can learn more about which HIM certification is right for you.
3. Consider advancement
As demand for healthcare services increases, so does the need for experienced HIM professionals. Many medical records technicians go on to pursue advanced roles in HIM, such as a medical and health services manager. Employment for medical and health services managers is expected to grow 32% through 2029, adding 133,200 new jobs, according to the BLS.
You might also consider continuing with your MBA. Herzing also offers a pathway for qualifying students in the HIM bachelor’s degree program to get a head start on earning their MBA in Healthcare Management. Students can earn up to 12 credits toward their MBA while enrolled in the bachelor’s program, setting themselves up for career advancement in the future.
What is a medical records technician?
Medical records technicians, otherwise known as health information technicians, are an important part of the healthcare system. They keep track of patient data ranging from medical history to test results and help code and digitize that information into electronic health records (EHRs), which are stored in a hospital’s patient database and later interpreted by health insurance companies for reimbursement of healthcare services.
If you are interested in working the background of healthcare and have strong organizational and analytical skills, a career as a medical records technician might be an enticing option for you.
What do medical records technicians do?
On a typical day, a medical records technician might create or retrieve medical records for new and existing patients and review medical records for accuracy and completeness. It is of utmost importance that they maintain the confidentiality of these records because patient information is highly sensitive data.
Medical records technicians must also ensure that patient information is cataloged correctly and transferred and stored securely. A career in medical records is especially suited for people who like to help others, but also have an affinity for working with data.
Successful medical records technicians are also compassionate, have strong interpersonal skills. They can communicate effectively with doctors, nurses and other members of the patient care team as necessary as a part of their job duties.
Where can I work?
As a medical records technician, you can build your career in a variety of healthcare settings. Most medical records technicians in 2019 worked in hospitals according to the BLS. You can also work in general practice, physicians’ offices, administrative support or technical services. Long-term care facilities also offer many employment opportunities as the elderly population in the U.S. seeks affordable care options.
As a full-time medical records clerk, you would likely have access to benefits such as a 401(k), paid vacation and medical and dental insurance. With the options to work part-time and weekend shifts, a career as a medical records clerk is very flexible, allowing you to explore the positions that best suit your professional goals.
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