How to Become a
Health Information Technician
Best Education Tracks, Key Skills, and Top Certifications
Health information technology (HIT) is loosely defined as the use of technology to keep and manage health-related records. Health information technicians act as the gatekeepers of vital medical records. It can be very rewarding work.
If a career in this profession appeals to you, this in-depth guide will show you everything you need to know about becoming a health information technician. From daily tasks to the key steps you need to take to qualify as one of these professionals, it’s all here for your perusal.
What Is a Health Information Technician?
A health information technician is a professional responsible for organizing and processing medical records via computer programs. Workers in this profession are also known as medical records technicians. They work in almost any health institution, including hospitals and clinics.
Health information technicians act as the links between different parts of a health institution. They ensure that crucial shared medical information is always up-to-date and accurate. If you’re a tech-savvy individual and have strong data management skills, this may be the career for you.
What Type of School Should You Attend
to Become a Health Information Technician?
The qualifications needed for a health information technician vary between health facilities. Some ask for an Associate Degree in HIT, and others, especially those looking for managers, request a bachelor’s degree. These requirements would always depend on the individual needs of the establishment.
Best Health Information Technician Education Tracks
To become a health information technician, make sure you meet the educational requirements of the institution you are applying to. Listed below are the standard education tracks that you may consider before pursuing this career.
You can find many community colleges with accredited health information management programs. Enrolling in one of them teaches you the necessary skills to handle data well in the medical field. In addition, these programs let you earn an associate degree that will help you secure an entry-level health information technician position.
Some potential employers want you to possess a bachelor’s degree to consider you for the role of health information technician. While a bachelor’s degree program specializing in health information management requires at least four years of study, a university path adds a level of prestige.
The technical and medical knowledge you’ll gain from either of these institutions will give you an edge when carving out a career as a health information technician.
How to Become a Health Information
Technician: A Step-by-Step Guide
Like any other career, you’ll have to consider several factors to succeed. Below are the steps that you need to accomplish before you can become a certified health information technician.
Graduate with a high school diploma
To become successful in the HIT field, you will need to have a solid foundation in health, math, English, science, and technology subjects. The standard way to learn all of these is through your secondary education.
Graduating from your secondary education lets you earn your high school diploma. This is a prerequisite to further your studies on health information management.
Obtain an Associate or Bachelor’s Degree in Health Information Management
Upon earning your high school diploma, you can immediately take up a post-secondary or college education specializing in health information management. You can choose the on-campus option, but the pandemic means online colleges are more popular than ever. Learning remotely can also offer greater flexibility.
Enroll in a school that offers a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management (CAHIIM). This way, you’ll learn all the skills and responsibilities of a health information technician, and you’ll qualify to apply for professional certification.
Earn a professional certification
Strengthen your portfolio and expand your opportunities by getting a certification from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).
Individuals with an Associate Degree in Health Information Management can aim for the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) certification. On the other hand, bachelor’s degree holders can obtain the Registered Health Information Administration (RHIA) certification.
Apply for a health information technician role
With an RHIT or RHIA certification under your belt, you’ll gain a competitive edge in your job application.
Keep your knowledge and skills up-to-date
Stay on top of your game by always knowing the latest developments in the health information technology field.
Key Health Information Technician Skills
To succeed in the field, you will need to balance technical and soft skills because ability alone without soft skills is a disaster waiting to happen. You’ll find yourself employing these skills in your daily routine on the job.
Let’s take a look at these crucial qualities.
Interpersonal skills are essential for medical records technicians because they need to communicate effectively with other health professionals and patients.
Attention to Detail
Another must-have attribute of a health information technician is attention to detail. You will be dealing with data all of the time, so you need to be very meticulous when recording and processing it. Inaccuracies might jeopardize your career and even patients’ well-being.
Knowledgeable of Medical Terminologies
Medical jargon should be familiar to any health information technician to maintain seamless communication between them and other medical professionals. The less time it takes for an attendant to explain every terminology to the patient, the better the quality of the healthcare.
Health Information Technician Salary and Job Outlook
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, the number of health information technicians is estimated to grow eight percent by 2029. As society produces more electronic health records (EHR), the demand for technicians continues to rise.
The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the median annual wage of health information technicians is $44,090. Most of these technicians work full-time in healthcare facilities such as hospitals and nursing care facilities.
Entry-Level Health Information Technician Job Requirements
Entry-level positions in HIT require an Associate or Bachelor’s Degree in Health Information Management. The starting salary is usually $32,751. When you already have this degree, increase your chance of getting hired by securing an RHIT certification.
What Does a Health Information Technician Do?
The main task of a health information technician is to record and maintain patient information. This information can include test results, medical history, symptoms, treatments, and other health-related details.
A health information technician has other responsibilities that support their primary purpose. These are listed below.
Review and process patient records
It is the job of a health information technician to record and process patients’ records. Throughout the process, the technician receives and analyzes the information to ensure that it is accurate and free from errors.
Maintain and organize data
In addition to recording and keeping data, you will organize and maintain it. At all times, information must be readily available so that it can be easily retrieved when requested.
Maintain the confidentiality of patient records
Another responsibility of a health information technician is to safeguard all patient records. You must ensure that the data is only accessible to authorized persons.
Health Information Technician Certifications
Upon completing an Associate or Bachelor’s Degree in Health Information Management, you can apply for a certification to become an industry-recognized health information technician. AHIMA offers RHIT and RHIA certifications for aspiring medical records technicians.
Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT)
RHITs are responsible for ensuring the accurate and complete recording of medical records into computer systems. To qualify for this certification, you’ll need to possess an Associate Degree in Health Information Management that is CAHIIM-accredited.
The RHIT exam is computer-based and timed. You’ll have three and a half hours to answer at least 130 questions. Once you pass the exam, you will be awarded Registered Health Information Technician certification.
Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA)
Bachelor’s degree holders may opt to take the RHIA certification. Unlike RHIT, professionals who possess RHIA credentials are eligible for management-level positions. Working as an RHIA lets you interact with the different departments of a health institution. You will also be managing people and operational units to deliver high-quality information.
RHIA’s exam format is also timed and computer-based. The exam takes four hours to complete and has at least 170 questions. A Registered Health Information Administrator Certificate will be issued when you pass the test.
How to Prepare for Your Health Information Technician Job Interview
Preparing for a job interview can be a stressful undertaking for most people. You can find many tips on how to ace your next one online. Expect to be assessed on your foundational knowledge, skills, and even personality.
Listed below are some practice questions you may find useful.
Health Information Technician Job Interview Practice Questions
- Why do you want to become a health information technician?
- What information should be contained in a patient’s medical file?
- What steps would you take to make sure patient records are up-to-date?
- How do you safeguard patient information?
How Long Does It Take to Become a Health Information Technician?
The shortest route to becoming a health information technician takes two years. An Associate Degree in Health Information Management, plus an optional RHIT certification, will take you there. If you’re aiming for a managerial role, consider taking the RHIA certification. This path requires you to take a four-year Bachelor’s Degree in Health Information Management.
Should you Become a Health Information Technician in 2021?
Now is a good time to consider a career in HIT. Health information technicians are in great demand, so you may find yourself perfectly placed to progress in this career. You just need to be committed to completing all of the requirements to become a registered health information technician.
Health Information Technician FAQ
How much do health information technicians make?
The salary range of registered health information technicians is usually from $32,751 to $53,587. It depends on various factors such as certifications, education, and experience.
Is a career as a health information technician a good choice?
If you wish to implement technological solutions in healthcare while helping people, a career as a health information technician is an excellent choice.
Where do health information technicians work?
Health information technicians generally work in healthcare institutions, including hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, dental offices, and insurance companies.
How do I become a health information technician?
To become a health information technician, you’ll need to obtain an Associate or Bachelor’s Degree in Health Information Management. To gain more opportunities, you will need to get a certification from AHIMA.