Becoming a Medical Records Director: Salary & Job Description

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A medical records director's mean annual salary is around $103,000, but is it worth the education requirements? Read real job descriptions and see the truth about career prospects to decide if becoming a medical records director is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Medical Records Director Career

Medical records directors are health services managers who focus on overseeing and maintaining computerized record management systems in healthcare facilities. Examine the pros and cons of a medical records director career to decide if it is the right choice for you.

Pros of a Medical Records Director Career
High growth field (17% estimated growth in employment between 2014 and 2024)*
High salary (annual mean income around $103,000)*
Some employers may hire medical records directors without a degree*
Leadership position*

Cons of a Medical Records Director Career
Evening and weekend hours may be required*
Some positions may require a graduate degree (41% of health services managers have a master's degree)***
Professional certification may be required**
Continuing education may be required to remain current in medical coding and classification technology*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **2012 Careerbuilder.com job postings, ***O*NET OnLine.

Essential Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Medical records directors manage the security of patient records in a medical facility, such as a physician's office or hospital. Directors oversee the activities of health information and medical records personnel, prepare department budgets and ensure compliance with the facility's policies and regulations regarding patient record confidentiality. Medical records directors also determine which systems a facility will use for records retention and retrieval and implement training and instruction for authorized hospital staff. They ensure medical records are complete, accurate and secure before being filed in the medical records system.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that an increase in demand for healthcare services is responsible for the predicted 17% growth in employment for medical and health services managers between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). With a greater demand for health services, medical records directors will be needed to manage the increase in medical records and patient information. Physician's offices are likely to see a greater increase in employment opportunities for health services workers as medical technologies advance and more services are offered on an outpatient basis. The annual median salary for medical and health services managers in 2014 was around $92,000, according to the BLS.

What Are the Requirements?

The BLS reports the most common educational requirement for health services managers is a bachelor's degree, although some employers may want to hire medical records directors with experience in the field. Medical records directors must have training in medical coding and billing as well as health information systems in order to maintain the security of a facility's medical records department. According to the BLS, a bachelor's degree in health administration can prepare managers or directors for a high-level management position. Health administration programs include coursework in accounting, organizational behavior, marketing, healthcare information systems, legal issues and financial management for healthcare facilities.

As a medical records director, you will need good communication and management skills to direct the activities of health information technicians. In addition, you will need a firm grasp of accounting and budgeting principles to develop, implement and monitor the department's budget.

Job Postings from Real Employers

Employers looking for medical records directors stress experience in medical billing and coding, terminology and the health information field. In addition, employers seek medical records directors familiar with the legal requirements and regulations that impact the field. Below are some examples of job postings for medical records directors available in May 2012:

  • A Nevada employer in the health services industry is looking for a medical records director to manage and maintain patient records for the facility. The candidate must be knowledgeable of federal and state laws, medical coding and terminology. The employer requires at least five years experience in a leadership role in information management to qualify for the position.
  • A health services employer in Texas is seeking a medical records director to oversee all aspects of the facility's medical records department. The candidate must have a minimum of two years of experience in medical records. The employer prefers a candidate with a Registered Health Information Technician certification from the American Health Information Management Association.
  • An Illinois employer in the health services industry is searching for a director of medical records to oversee and direct the activities in and maintenance of the practice's medical records department. The director will provide training to staff and ensure the department is compliant with federal and state regulations. To qualify for the position, candidates must have at least five years of experience in healthcare and at least three years of experience in medical records. The employer also requires a minimum of two years of experience in a management role and certification from the American Health Information Management Association.

How to Get an Edge in the Field

Some employers require the Registered Health Information Technician certification from the American Health Information Management Association, but obtaining the Registered Health Information Administrator credential may help you stand out as a manager in the field. To be eligible to take the examination for the certification, you must have a bachelor's degree in health information management.

While employers seek candidates who have experience in medical records and health information management, pursuing courses in business management may help you stand out. Medical records directors supervise medical records workers, manage budgets and participate in the administration of a healthcare facility, which requires knowledge and skill in business administration.

Other Careers to Consider

If a career managing patient records and health information is appealing, but the bachelor's degree requirement for some positions deters you, consider a health information technician career. According to the BLS, a medical records and health information technician position requires a certificate program or an associate's degree to qualify. A position as a health information technician can also provide the experience needed to qualify for a director's position later. According to the BLS, these professionals earned a median annual salary of $32,000 in 2010, and can expect a 21% employment growth rate over the 2010-2020 decade.

Management positions in health services are available in other areas, if medical records and health information is not for you. Clinical managers oversee hospital departments and assistant administrators work with the top administration of a medical facility. The training and education requirements for a health services manager include a minimum of a bachelor's degree in health administration. The median annual salary and employment growth rate are the same as for medical records directors.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Health Information Management
      • MBA: Health Care Management
      • Master of Healthcare Admin
      • Master: Management/Health Care Mgmt
      • Master of Health Informatics
    Bachelor's
      • Health Information Management
      • BS in Health Information Management
      • Bachelor: Healthcare Admin
      • Bachelor: Health Science
    Certificate
      • Medical Office Administration
      • Medical Billing and Coding Certificate
  • Online Programs Available
    2. George Mason University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Health Administration in Health Systems Management
      • Master of Science in Health Informatics
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.A. - Health Services Admin
    Associate's
      • Associate of Science - Medical Administrative Billing and Coding
      • Associate of Arts - Health Services Admin
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Saint Joseph's University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Health Administration
      • MS in Health Administration - Informatics
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Technology Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Project Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Public Safety Leadership
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Health Information Management
    Associate's
      • Associate: Health Information Management
      • Associate: Healthcare Management
      • Associate of Science - Insurance Billing and Coding Specialist
    Certificate
      • Diploma: Medical Office Admin
  • Online Programs Available
    6. University of Delaware

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Concentration
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
    Master's
      • MBA: Health Systems Management
      • MS in Health Care Administration
      • MS in Health Care Informatics
      • MS in Nursing: Health Care Informatics
      • Master of Public Administration - Health Care Management
    Bachelor's
      • BS in Health Care Administration
      • BS in Health Sciences: Professional Development & Advanced Patient Care
      • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science
  • Online Programs Available
    8. American University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Healthcare Management
  • Online Programs Available
    9. University of Saint Mary

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA Health Care Management Concentration
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Health Care Admin
      • PhD in Business Admin - Health Care Admin
    Master's
      • MBA - Health Care Admin
      • MS - Organizational Leadership: Health Care Administration

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • Master of Health Information Management
  • Health Information Management
  • Medical Office Administration

Which subject are you interested in?

George Mason University

  • Master of Health Administration in Health Systems Management
  • Master of Science in Health Informatics

What is your highest level of education?

Keiser University

  • B.A. - Health Services Admin
  • Associate of Science - Medical Administrative Billing and Coding
  • Associate of Arts - Health Services Admin

What is your highest level of education?

Saint Joseph's University

  • MS in Health Administration
  • MS in Health Administration - Informatics

What is your highest level of education completed?

Herzing University

  • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Technology Management
  • Bachelor: Health Information Management
  • Associate: Health Information Management
  • Diploma: Medical Office Admin

What is your highest level of education?

University of Delaware

  • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Concentration

What is your highest level of education completed?

Grand Canyon University

  • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
  • MBA: Health Systems Management
  • BS in Health Care Administration

What is your highest level of education?

American University

  • Master of Science in Healthcare Management

What is your highest level of education?