Registered health information technicians, sometimes referred to as medical records technicians, ensure that patients’ medical records are accurate, organized and stored securely. Although parts of the job require technical skills, it also requires training and knowledge in health care, insurance and coding. With the increasing use of electronic health records in the 2000s, employers prefer to hire candidates who obtain accredited training and certification.
To become registered, heath information technicians must obtain an associate degree from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education. A processing fee, an application and passing a credentialing exam results in obtaining certification and registration, which is administered by the American Health Information Management Association. To maintain certification, registered health information technicians must continue their education and complete 20 continuing education credits every two years for recertification.
More than 180,000 medical records and health information technicians were employed in the United States in 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their average salary was $35,920 per year or $17.27 per hour. The lowest 10 percent earned $21,680 per year or $10.42 per hour; those in the 90th percentile earned $55,170 per year or $26.53 per hour.
Salaries vary based on the cost of living in specific areas, the employer and the skills required for the job. Registered RHITs often earn higher wages. Employment was highest in general hospitals, where earning averaged $37,960 per year or $18.25 per hour. The highest levels of employment were in California, where earnings averaged $40,330 per year or $19.39 per hour. New Jersey paid the highest salaries for health information technicians, where earnings averaged $51,850 or $24.93 per hour.
The BLS predicts a 21 percent growth between 2010 and 2020 for this occupation, which is much higher than the average growth of 14 percent for all occupations. This expansion in jobs is due to the aging of baby boomers who will have more medical needs. Certified and registered RHITs will see the best job prospects, as making health information systems universal is progressively becoming the standard in the health care industry.