Medical Clerk Careers: Job Description & Salary Information

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What are the pros and cons of career as a medical clerk? Get real job descriptions, career outlook and salary info to see if becoming a medical clerk is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Medical Clerk Career

Medical clerks ensure medical records are organized, up-to-date and accurate. Read the pros and cons below to see if a career as a medical clerk is the right decision.

Pros of Being a Medical Clerk
A post-secondary degree is usually not required*
Clerks work wherever healthcare facilities exist*
Part-time work is possible *
Skills generally learned from on-the-job training*

Cons of Being a Medical Clerk
Pay is not very high (Average around $38,000 in May 2014)*
Advancement often requires earning a degree*
May encounter stress when dealing with emotional patients**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*Net Online

Essential Career Information

Job Duties and Description

The duties you will perform as a medical clerk depends on the size and needs of the office or facility where you work. You may perform basic administrative tasks like greeting patients and answering the phones. Additionally, you may help patients who are frustrated with their health problems or who have insurance issues, directing them to the appropriate sources to resolve their problems. With the transition to digital records, paper files are not as common and much of your work will be performed by computer.

Medical clerks are found in doctor's offices, hospitals or wherever medical care is provided. Some medical offices do not need a full-time clerk and many flexible work schedules may be available. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recognized that one out of every four general office clerks worked part-time in 2012.

Salary and Job Prospects

In May 2014, the BLS estimated that more than 80,000 general office clerks worked in general medical and surgical hospitals. The mean annual wage that these clerks earned was a little more than $32,000. The healthcare industry is projected to expand and general clerks should find more opportunities in medical facilities. The BLS indicates that general office clerks can expect to see a 6% increase in employment from 2012-2022.

Training Requirements and Skills

Medical clerks can usually find employment with just a high school diploma. While you may learn many of the job duties through on-the-job training, some employers may require you to have an understanding of medical terminology and common computer applications like spreadsheets, databases and word processing programs. You may take basic computer and medical terminology courses at a local vocational school, community college or even online.

Medical clerks must have great communication and people skills when dealing with patients and medical professionals. They must be highly-organized, work efficiently and be accurate when recording doctor's instructions and other important data.

What Are Employers Looking for?

Most clerks will generally need a high school diploma, computer proficiency in word processing software, six months or more of experience, preferably in a medical office, and knowledge of medical terminology. The following job postings were listed in May of 2012 and should give you an idea about what employers want:

  • A military medical facility in Texas is seeking a medical office clerk to schedule appointments, research patient records, request test results from providers, verify eligibility for benefits and help with other office tasks. A high school diploma or GED, typing speed of 50 words per minute, knowledge of Microsoft Office software and six months of office experience are required. Knowledge of medical terminology is preferred.
  • A medical center in California is hiring a medical clerk with at least one year of clerical experience interpreting medical terminology or a combination of general clerking experience and the completion of either a medical terminology course or medical assisting program. Tasks include delivering specimens to the lab, interpreting data, ordering supplies, requesting lab work and confirming insurance information.
  • A clinic in New York is looking for a medical clerk to perform clerical and receptionist duties. The employer seeks candidates with a high school diploma, experience in a medical office and knowledge with computers, health insurance and medical terminology. College study in a related field is a plus.

How to Beat the Competition

Although you can find employment with only a high school diploma, taking business and medical office courses or pursuing a certificate or degree program will make you more appealing to employers. Two college programs you may consider are a medical clerk certificate or a medical office assistant associate's degree. Coursework in the certificate programs focus on insurance coding, computer applications, medical office procedures, medical terminology and records management processes. Medical office assistant degree programs include additional classes in medical ethics, accounting and business communications. Medical clerks need strong communication skills, so taking classes in public speaking could be beneficial when dealing with medical professionals and patients. Keeping abreast with the latest medical records software will show employers that you are willing to maintain your education.

Career Alternatives

Medical Transcriptionist

If you want to work with medical records but desire a bit more pay, you should consider becoming a medical transcriptionist. These professionals take verbal recordings or written documents of a doctor's notes or observations and translate them into a digital format on a computer. An associate's degree or certificate, with courses in medical terminology, grammar and anatomy, is often necessary to find work in this field. In May 2010, the BLS reported that the median annual salary of a medical transcriptionist was approximately $34,000.

Medical Records or Health Information Technician

You may also consider working as a medical records or health information technician. These individuals perform some of the same duties that a medical clerk does, including verifying, tracking and entering patient records and insurance information into computer databases. While these technicians communicate with doctors and other healthcare providers, they have limited interaction with patients. This career field is expected to experience a faster than average growth of 21% from 2010-2020, as reported by the BLS. In May 2011, the BLS indicated that medical records and health information technicians earned a median annual wage of almost $33,000.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. George Mason University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Health Administration in Health Systems Management
      • Master of Science in Health Informatics
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    2. The George Washington University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MSHS in Clinical Research Administration
      • MSHS in Clinical and Translational Research
      • MSHS in Health Care Quality
      • MSHS in Regulatory Affairs
    Certificate
      • Graduate Certificate in Clinical Research Administration
      • Graduate Certificate in Health Care Quality
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  • Online Programs Available
    3. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA: Health Care Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: BS Mgt. & Healthcare Mgt.
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    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Health Care Management
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    Associate's
      • Associate: Healthcare Management
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      • Associate of Science - Insurance Billing and Coding Specialist
    Certificate
      • Diploma: Medical Office Admin
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
    Master's
      • MS in Health Care Administration
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      • BS in Health Care Administration
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    5. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Graduate Specialization - Healthcare Administration
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    Bachelor's
      • BS - Healthcare Admin and Management
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    6. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Health Care Admin
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    Master's
      • MBA - Health Care Admin
      • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
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    7. American University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Healthcare Management
    Certificate
      • Graduate Certificate in Healthcare Management
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Management - Health Care Management and Leadership
    Master's
      • MBA: Health Care Management
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    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Health Care Management
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  • Online Programs Available
    9. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Healthcare Management
      • Master of Business Admin: Healthcare Admin
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Business Admin: Healthcare Management
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  • Online Programs Available
    10. The University of Scranton

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Health Administration
      • MBA - Healthcare Management
      • Master of Science in Health Informatics
    Certificate
      • Executive Certificate in Health Administration
      • Health Informatics Certificate

Featured Schools

George Mason University

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

What is your highest level of education?

The George Washington University

  • MSHS in Clinical Research Administration
  • MSHS in Clinical and Translational Research
  • Graduate Certificate in Clinical Research Administration
  • Graduate Certificate in Health Care Quality

What is your highest level of education?

Herzing University

  • MBA: Health Care Management
  • Bachelor: Health Care Management
  • Associate: Healthcare Management
  • Diploma: Medical Office Admin

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Grand Canyon University

  • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
  • MS in Health Care Administration
  • BS in Health Care Administration

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Colorado State University Global

  • Graduate Specialization - Healthcare Administration
  • MS - Healthcare Admin and Management
  • BS - Healthcare Admin and Management

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Northcentral University

  • Doctor of Business Admin - Health Care Admin
  • PhD in Business Admin - Health Care Admin
  • MBA - Health Care Admin
  • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration

What is your highest level of education?

American University

  • Master of Science in Healthcare Management
  • Graduate Certificate in Healthcare Management

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado Technical University

  • Doctor of Management - Health Care Management and Leadership
  • MBA: Health Care Management
  • B.S. - Health Care Management

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