Medical Records Technician Careers: Salary Info & Job Description

About this article
A medical records technician's median annual salary is around $36,000. Is it worth the training requirements? Learn about the job description and get the truth about career prospects to decide if becoming a medical records technician is right for you.
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The Pros and Cons of Being a Medical Records Technician

Medical records technicians, also referred to as health information technicians, are professionals who deal with patients' health information, including medical history, examination results and diagnostic records. Reading about the pros and cons of being a medical records technician may help you decide if this is the career you want.

Pros of Being a Medical Records Technician
Faster-than-average employment growth (expected 22% job growth between 2012 and 2022)*
Specialization options*
Certificate and associate's degree programs sufficient for entry-level positions*
Can work in various medical settings*

Cons of Being a Medical Records Technician
Low average salary (around $36,000 median annual salary)*
Work hours may include evenings, weekends and holidays*
Long hours spent in front of a computer screen*
Requires recertification and continued education*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Essential Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Medical records technicians compile health information data, such as medical history, examination results, symptoms, treatment methods and diagnosis. They organize the information and verify its accuracy prior to entering the data into the computer. Technicians then report the information for purposes of reimbursement, risk management, quality assessment and research. They also communicate regularly with doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to verify current or obtain additional information.

Some medical technicians use classification systems software to assign codes to a patient's medical information. Medical records technicians working as coding specialists assign codes to a diagnosis and submit it to Medicare, Medicaid or an insurance company for reimbursement. The technicians must be familiar using electronic health records (EHR) and EHR software.

Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical records technicians earned a mean annual wage of around $39,000 as of May 2014. Wages may vary by experience and location. Technicians who worked in general medical and surgical hospitals earned a mean of $41,000, while those who were employed by physicians' offices averaged $34,000 during the same year.

Career Paths and Specializations

Although the majority of medical records technicians are employed in hospitals, they may also find career opportunities in physician offices, clinics, nursing homes, public health agencies and home health agencies. Some health information and medical records technicians specialize in cancer registry. These workers maintain the regional and national databases for all cancer patients. In addition to analyzing the patient's records and test results, they assign specific codes for the diagnosis of cancer, for treatment plans and certain tumors. They also keep track of treatment, recovery and survival of patients by conducting annual data.

What Are the Requirements?

Applicants interested in applying to medical records technician or technology programs may be required to meet certain requirements. They're usually required to show proof of a physical examination, a TB test and current immunizations. Candidates must also submit to criminal background checks. Some prerequisite courses may also be completed as part of the enrollment process, depending on the school.

Education and Career Requirements

Becoming a medical records or health information technician involves completion of a training program - usually a certificate or associate's degree. These programs can be found at technical schools or community colleges. Courses teach you about medical terminology, healthcare customer service, Microsoft office products, legal issues in the healthcare system, electronic spreadsheets, health statistics and healthcare delivery systems. In addition to coursework, you may also be required to complete an internship in a work environment for hands-on experience.

Aspiring technicians should possess the following skills:

  • Good communication skills (both oral and written)
  • Computer proficiency
  • Interest in learning
  • Attention to detail

What Employers Are Looking for

Medical records technicians have the task of assessing patient information, assigning codes to that information and entering it into the system efficiently and accurately. They also communicate with medical personnel regarding this information. Medical records technicians must be detail-oriented and possess knowledge of and experience in dealing with medical records. Below are some job postings from March 2012.

  • A Kentucky healthcare provider is looking for a medical records technician to assist on a scanning/indexing project. The position involves indexing and scanning medical records into an electronic medical record system. Applicants must have at least one year of experience with medical record and chart scanning.
  • A healthcare company advertised for a medical records technician to work in their Indiana pharmacy. Applicants are required to have a high school diploma, at least two years of experience working in a medical facility and an Indiana pharmacy technician license. They should also be familiar with medication names, medical terminology and pharmacy software.
  • A pharmacy in New York is looking for a medical records technician to maintain medical records and perform data entry. Applicants will also provide a pharmacist with information regarding drug reactions and allergies. Candidates must have high school diplomas and pharmacy technician license.

How to Maximize Your Skills

There are other ways to enhance your employment opportunities beyond completing a training program. Employers often prefer to hire technicians who have the Registered Health Information Technicians (RHIT) credential. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers this credential to those who complete the training and pass a written examination. You can also obtain certification through other organizations, such as the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), the Professional Association of Healthcare Coding Specialist (PAHCS) and the Board of Medical Specialty Coding & Compliance (BMSC).

These organizations offer several specialty certifications to eligible applicants who pass the examination. To be eligible, you typically have to meet education and work experience requirements. Seeking advanced specialty certification is another way to maximize your skills. You can remain competitive in this field by obtaining certifications and keeping up with recertification and continuing education.

Other Careers to Consider

Radiologic Technician

If you're looking for a hands-on position in the medical field, you may enjoy a career as a radiologic technician or technologist. Radiologic technicians perform imaging examinations such as x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), mammography and computed tomography (CT). They also help prepare patients for the procedure, answer any questions they may have, complete paperwork and maintain equipment. The BLS reports that radiologic technicians earned a median annual wage of around $35,000 in 2011.

Medical Assistant

Medical assistants perform both administrative and clinical duties in hospitals, doctor offices, clinics and other medical facilities. As a medical assistant, you'll perform clerical work such as filling out insurance forms, answering phones and scheduling appointments. Additionally, you may have clinical duties such as drawing blood, recording vital signs, taking medical histories and assisting medical personnel. While some receive on-the-job training, you may be required to complete formal training and certification. Medical assistants earned a median annual wage of about $29,000 as of May 2011, according to the BLS.

Licensed Practical Nurse

Licensed practical nurses (LPN) provide health care to sick or injured patients. As an LPN, you may find work in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes or almost any medical setting. As with the medical records technician programs, LPN programs are available at the certificate level. With the LPN program, you have more science classes and must pass a test to obtain licensure before you can work as a nurse. These nurses earned a median annual wage of around $42,000 in 2011, the BLS reported.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Purdue University Global

    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
      • BS in Health Information Management
      • Bachelor: Healthcare Admin
      • Bachelor: Health Science
    Certificate
      • Medical Office Administration Certificate
      • Medical Billing and Coding Certificate
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Saint Leo University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS: Healthcare Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
    Master's
      • MBA: Health Systems Management
      • MS in Health Care Administration
    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
    4. American University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Healthcare Management
  • Online Programs Available
    5. The George Washington University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MSHS Clinical Operations & Healthcare Management
      • MSHS in Biomedical Informatics
    Bachelor's
      • Dual Degree: BSHS in Clinical Research Administration/MSHS in Regulatory Affairs
      • BSHS in Clinical Operations and Healthcare Management
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Utica College

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA - Health Care Management
      • MHA in Healthcare Administration
      • MHA in Health Care Administration - Acute Care
      • MHA in Health Care Administration - Long Term Care
      • MHA in Health Care Administration - Service Organization
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Regent University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Strategic Leadership - Healthcare Leadership
    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Healthcare Management
      • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Management
      • Master of Public Administration - Healthcare Policy and Ethics
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Graduate Specialization - Healthcare Administration
      • MS - Healthcare Admin and Management
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Healthcare Admin and Management
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Penn Foster

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Career Diploma - Medical Transcriptionist
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Abilene Christian University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA - Healthcare Administration
      • Master of Science in Management - Healthcare Administration

Featured Schools

Purdue University Global

  • Master of Health Information Management
  • BS in Health Information Management
  • Medical Office Administration Certificate

Which subject are you interested in?

Saint Leo University

  • BS: Healthcare Administration

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?

The George Washington University

  • MSHS Clinical Operations & Healthcare Management
  • MSHS in Biomedical Informatics
  • Dual Degree: BSHS in Clinical Research Administration/MSHS in Regulatory Affairs
  • BSHS in Clinical Operations and Healthcare Management

What is your highest level of education?

Utica College

  • MBA - Health Care Management
  • MHA in Healthcare Administration
  • MHA in Health Care Administration - Acute Care

What is your highest level of education completed?

Regent University

  • Doctor of Strategic Leadership - Healthcare Leadership
  • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Healthcare Management
  • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Management

What is your highest level of education completed?

Colorado State University Global

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

What is your highest level of education?