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How to Become a RHIA

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Registered health information administrators manage health information and medical records systems. The American Health Information Management Association manages RHIA certification. To certify, you must meet academic requirements and pass an exam. If you become a RHIA, you'll enhance your job and salary prospects, according to the AHIMA.

Meet Academic Requirements

To apply for RHIA certification, you must have a baccalaureate degree in health information management accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education, according to the AHIMA website. Alternatively, you must graduate from an HIM program approved by a foreign association with which AHIMA has a reciprocity agreement. You'll have to submit official transcripts to verify your qualifications. If you're still studying for an eligible degree, you may be able to take the RHIA exam early. This works if you're in your last term of study, if you've finished your course but haven't graduated, or if you haven't yet received official transcripts.

Submit an Application to AHIMA

You can apply for the RHIA certification online via the AHIMA website or download and mail a paper application if you prefer. You must pay certification fees at this stage, and the fee is $299 at the time of publication. Once AHIMA verifies your education and approves your application, it informs its testing partner, Pearson Vue, that you're eligible to take the exam. Pearson Vue manages the process from this stage and will send you an "authorization to test" email or letter. You have a four-month window in which to take the exam -- your letter gives exact dates -- at a Pearson Vue test center.

Prepare for the Exam

The RHIA exam focuses on key health information areas such as information governance, information protection, informatics, analytics and data use, revenue management and leadership. AHIMA recommends that you use its candidate guide to find a full breakdown of subjects in each area. The association provides online self-study prep courses and a practice test if you want to supplement your study. At the date of publication, costs for the online courses and practice test start at $49.99 for AHIMA members and $59.99 for nonmembers.

Take the RHIA Exam

The RHIA test is computerized and has 180 multiple-choice questions. It takes four hours. AHIMA converts your scores to a scaled system, giving you a possible total score of 400. At the date of publication, 300 is the passing score. Typically, you receive your results at the test center when the exam is finished. If you pass the exam, your certificate confirming RHIA certification will arrive within two months of your test date.