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Health goes high-tech: Associate degree in health information technology

Health care has exploded in recent years. The industry holds some of the fastest growing occupations in the country, and many health careers offer excellent compensation. If the thought of hands-on patient care doesn't appeal to you or you're looking for a health care career without a decade of medical school, a degree in health information technology may be right for you.

Health Information Technology

With an associate degree in health information technology, you may be eligible to work as a medical records and health information technician. This occupation is one of the few jobs within the health care field that doesn't involve direct patient care. Instead, medical records and health information technicians are responsible for maintaining patient records and other medical files. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), demand for trained health information technicians will increase by 20 percent from 2008-2018.

Start a new career with a health information technology degree

To pursue a career as a medical records technician, you should first obtain an associate degree in health information technology. These two year programs are designed to provide expertise in subjects such as:

  • Health data requirements and standards
  • Data coding systems
  • Medical terminology
  • Healthcare reimbursement methods
  • Database security and management

After receiving your associate degree in health information technology, you may be eligible to apply for credentialing as a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT). While being credentialed is optional by law, most employers prefer to hire technicians with this designation.

In addition to the RHIT designation, which is offered by the American Health Information Association, there are other credentials available to those with a degree in health information technology. These include:

  • Coding credentials from the American Academy of Professional Coders
  • Specialty coding credentials from the Board of Medical Specialty Coding
  • Specialty coding credentials from the Professional Association of Health Care Coding Specialists
  • Certified Tumor Registrar designation from the National Cancer Registrars Association

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, in 2014, the mean annual income for medical records and health information technicians was $38,860. However, actual incomes could vary from $23,340 to $59,160. As in other industries, experience and credentials are often the path to career advancement. In addition, a higher degree in health information technology may create new job opportunities for medical records and health information technicians.

Earn an online associate degree in health information technology

For busy adults, earning a health information technology degree online may be a smart choice. Programs created for those pursing an online associate degree in health information technology offer maximum flexibility. Coursework can be scheduled around work and family obligations and completed in the comfort of your own home.

In addition to federal and state government financial aid programs, there are also scholarships available specifically for those completing a degree in health information technology. By becoming a student member of the American Health Information Association (AHIA), you are able to apply for financial aid from the AHIA Foundation. Explore health information technology degree programs today and explore your training options.

Sources

"Medical Records and Health Information Technicians," Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014, June 24, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292071.htm

"Medical Records and Health Information Technicians," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 24, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-records-and-health-information-technicians.htm

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