Registered Health Information Technician Careers: Salary Info & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of a registered health information technician career? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary info to see if becoming a registered health information technician is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Registered Health Information Technician Career

Registered health information technicians work in healthcare facilities to record patients' medical information and code that information for insurance purposes. Check out these pros and cons to see if becoming a registered health information technician is right for you:

Pros of a Registered Health Information Technician Career
High-growth field (22% through 2022)*
May help improve quality of care through tracking patient outcomes*
Does not require an advanced degree to enter the field*
Can work almost anywhere*

Cons of a Registered Health Information Technician Career
Relatively low annual median wage (around $35,900)*
Long hours in front of a computer*
Examination required for registration*
Requires strict attention to detail*
Possible nighttime or weekend hours*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Essential Career Info

Job Description

While most health information technicians work in hospitals or doctor's offices, some also work in nursing homes or other healthcare service companies. If you work in a facility with overnight hours, you may have some nighttime shifts, though many health info techs work a traditional 40-hour week. While you may work under a supervisor, many of your tasks would be self-directed. You'll organize patient data using medical software programs, review records to ensure that they're complete and make sure patient information is confidential. You need to have good attention to detail in order to perform these tasks. You may also analyze the data in the records for research purposes.

Salary and Career Prospects

As of May 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that medical records and health information technicians had a median annual wage of around $35,900 (www.bls.gov). Those in the top 90th percentile pay range earned around $59,160, while the lowest 10% had yearly earnings around $23,340. The BLS projected a 22% increase in the employment of medical records and health information technicians in the decade from 2012-2022.

Many healthcare jobs will see increased employment as the aging population requires more medical procedures and treatments. Federal legislation made electronic health records mandatory. Consequently, as the industry switches over, the need for health information technicians with computer skills will increase.

Education and Registration Requirements

In order to become a registered health information technician, you must attend a 2-year associate's degree program in health information management or technology. The Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) accredits health information programs at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels. These programs typically include courses in medical terminology, medical coding, health information systems, data management and medical fundamentals. After completing a CAHIIM-accredited associate's degree program in health information, you'll be eligible to sit for the exam to become a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT).

Registration

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers the RHIT credential. The exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions and takes three and a half hours to complete. When you receive a passing score on the exam, you can use the RHIT designation. This credential is active for a two-year period during which you must complete 20 hours of continuing education in order to recertify.

What Employers are Looking for

RHITs can hold different job titles, such as medical coder, manager or technician. Many job postings mention an RHIT credential or the Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) credential. This credential is awarded to graduates of bachelor's degree programs who have passed the exam as well as coding-specific certifications for which you can test after completing your associate's program or gaining coding experience. Read these summaries of job postings open in April 2012 to get an idea of what employers are looking for:

  • A medical center in Washington was looking to hire an inpatient coder who was a graduate of an AHIMA-approved program with three years of experience in acute care coding and certification as an RHIT, RHIA or Certified Coding Specialist (CCS).
  • A health information service company in California was searching for an area manager with the RHIT or RHIA credential and experience in health information management.
  • A rehabilitation facility in Texas was looking for a health information management service technician with either three years of experience or the RHIT credential.

How to Stand out in the Field

Get a Specialized Certification

In addition to the RHIT and RHIA credentials, AHIMA offers certifications in coding at various levels and in certain specializations. For instance, you can test for the Certified Coding Associate credential after a recommended six months of experience in coding. They also have certifications in security and data analysis. An additional credential could demonstrate your area of expertise within the health information field.

The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) also offers various certifications for health information professionals in the areas of coding, auditing, compliance and practice management. You could take the exam for a specialty coding certification, such as chiropractic, pediatric or internal medicine coding. The AAPC recommends two years of experience in the field before taking the exam, and you must be a current member.

Other Careers to Consider

If you're interested in administrative tasks in healthcare but also want some clinical duties, consider a career as a medical assistant. After a certificate program that takes about a year to complete, you can begin work helping with examinations, scheduling appointments and taking patient histories. Employment for medical assistants is projected to increase by 31% in the decade from 2010-2020, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. The BLS reported in May 2011 that medical assistant made a median annual wage of about $29,000.

If you're interested in health information but want more of a manager or administrator role, consider a bachelor's degree program in health information management after which you could take the test to become an RHIA and work as a medical or health service manager. You would work closely with doctors to manage a hospital department or a group practice. The BLS reported in May 2011 that medical and health service managers made a median annual wage of about $86,000. Employment was expected to grow about 22% in the 2010-2020 decade.

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
  • Online Programs Available
    2. The George Washington University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MSHS in Health Care Quality
    Certificate
      • Graduate Certificate in Health Care Quality
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Kaplan University

    Program Options

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

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Healthcare Management
  • Campus Locations:
    5. Brightwood College

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Medical Office Specialist
      • Medical Billing and Coding Certificate
  • Online Programs Available
    6. The University of Scranton

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA - Healthcare Management
      • Master of Health Administration
      • Master of Science in Health Informatics
    Certificate
      • Executive Certificate in Health Administration
      • Health Informatics Certificate
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Saint Joseph's University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Health Admin
      • MS - Health Admin Informatics
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Technology Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Public Safety Leadership
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Project Management
    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
    9. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Management - Health Care Management and Leadership
    Master's
      • MS - Healthcare Management
      • MS - Healthcare Management - Informatics
      • MBA: Health Care Management
      • Master of Science in Management - Healthcare Management
    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Health Care Management - Health Informatics
      • B.S. - Health Care Management
      • BS - Business Administration - Health Care 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
      • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
      • MBA - Health Care Admin

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 Health Care Quality
  • Graduate Certificate in Health Care Quality

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Kaplan University

  • MBA: Health Care Management
  • BS in Health Information Management
  • Medical Office Administration

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American University

  • Master of Science in Healthcare Management

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Brightwood College

  • Medical Office Specialist
  • Medical Billing and Coding Certificate

What is your highest level of education?

The University of Scranton

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

What is your highest level of education?

Saint Joseph's University

  • MS - Health Admin
  • MS - Health Admin 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

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