What can you do with a degree in health information technology? It depends on your interests, but you should have plenty of options in business, finance, technology and administration.
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With high average salaries and rising job demand, it’s also a degree that can pay off dividends for the future.
What Can You Do With a Degree in Health Information Technology?
Like its name implies, health information technology (HIT) is the intersection of healthcare and technology. It uses computers, networks, databases and other information systems for the benefit of doctors, patients, administrators and insurance providers. It’s also known as “health informatics” and “health information systems.”
You can earn a HIT degree at every level from associate to doctorate, but the most common is a bachelor’s degree. It typically requires 120 credits, and common subjects that are studied span everything from finance to management policy.
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What jobs will be waiting for you after graduation? With a health information technology bachelor degree, you may pursue the following careers:
- Data analyst
- Software developer
- Health information technician
- Project manager
- Medical coder
- Database administrator
- Quality assurance lead
- Security consultant
- Information technology (IT) support specialist
- Medical records technician
This is just a small list. There are many other possibilities in health technology, including entry-level jobs for associate degree holders and high-level careers for PhD holders.
Health Information Technology Careers & Salaries
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for those with a bachelor’s degree in this field is around $77,920 per year.
Averages don’t represent the true range of salaries for a career in the health information technology field, however. You may easily make more than six figures per year if you have a senior-level job in a busy city with high demand for health information technologists.
On the flip side, you might make less than the average if you live in a rural community without big tech or medical companies willing to recruit you.
Keeping in mind that salaries are flexible, here are some career opportunities in the health information technology field:
|Careers||Annual Median Salary|
|IT Security Manager||$151,150|
|Computer Network Architect||$116,780|
|Health Information Manager in Hospitals||$112,870|
|Software Quality Assurance (QA) Analyst||$96,040|
|Information Security Analyst in Healthcare||$89,900|
|Project Management Specialist||$77,420|
|Computer Support Specialist||$55,510|
|Medical Records and Health Information Technician||$44,090|
Just remember that averages aren’t always representative of true salaries. If you’re interested in a particular career, look up its exact salary in your location at your degree level.
Health Information Technology Licensing and Certification
You don’t need a license for a career in health information technology. However, certain titles and certifications can help your job prospects, especially as a recent college grad. Here are a couple that might interest you:
- Registered Health Information Administration: As a certification of expertise, the RHIA is open to any bachelor or master’s degree holder with experience in health information management.
- Registered Health Information Technician: Similar to the RHIA, the RHIT is for students and professionals at the associate level or above, so it’s slightly less demanding but still reputable within the industry.
Additionally, you should check out certifications for healthcare administrators and managers. Some of them are open to information technology specialists as well as general admins.
Health Information Technology Professional Organizations
If you’re unfamiliar with professional organizations, they’re basically networks for people within a specific industry. In exchange for an annual membership fee, you can get to access things like conferences, seminars, job boards, academic journals, scholarships programs and more.
Here are a few organizations that might interest you as a health information technology student:
- American Academy of Professional Coders: Dedicated to those who work with medical records and information systems, the AAPC offers classes, certificates and training programs for a number of HIT topics.
- American Health Information Management Association: The AHIMA is for students and executives in health information management, and it offers many certifications with a variety of specialties.
- American Medical Informatics Association: The AMIA has many resources for those interested in the technical side of healthcare, including forums, fellowships, career centers, meetings, publications and accreditations.
- Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society: A nonprofit organization, the HIMSS is for healthcare informaticists of all types, and it has several different kinds of membership for individuals and corporations.
- National Association of Health Data Organizations: The NAHDO is dedicated to education and advocacy for health information news, trends, issues and tools.
- National Institute for Health Care Management: While it isn’t devoted exclusively to informatics, the NIHCM is open to anyone in healthcare administration or management, including those who specialize in healthcare data.
These are all national organizations. For groups a little closer to home, check out clubs and student associations at your university, or look into local organizations that serve your community’s healthcare needs.
How to Choose an Online Health Information Technology Degree
There’s more to enrolling in a health informatics bachelor degree program than just registering for the right classes. Not only will you need to think about tuition, credits, admissions and accreditation, but you’ll also need to choose which type of degree to pursue in the first place.
Online Programs – These degrees can be obtained online. Some have “synchronous” classes that are held in real time through video conferencing software; others have “asynchronous” classes where self-paced students control their own schedules.
Hybrid Programs – Also called “blended” programs, hybrid programs take place partially online and partially on campus. For example, they might have online lessons but in-person exams, or they might supplement in-person lectures with online learning materials.
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On-Campus Classroom – Traditional college classes take place on campus. They might still have an online element when it comes to reading or submitting assignments, but the instruction is face-to-face.
Every school is different, so before you enroll in their health information technology program, check to see which learning options are available to you.
What Careers Are in Health Information Technology?
A degree in health information technology can take you in many different directions. While it’s true that most jobs are computer-based, you should have your pick of specializations within technical and technological fields.
For example, if you’re good with numbers, you may work with budgets, claims, invoices and other financial records. If you have a knack for computer science, you may build software or troubleshoot hardware.
You may also take a straightforward path into becoming a health information technician or health information informaticist. These jobs are a natural extension of a HIT degree, but as you can see, they’re far from the only option that you’ll have.
What Can You Do With a Degree in Health Information Management?
Health information management is multidisciplinary field within HIT. Looking at data systems through a leadership lens, it combines business, finance, technology, policy and healthcare administration into a single degree program.
It also stresses the importance of understanding the companies and corporations that make up the infrastructure of the healthcare industry.
Depending on what you study, you may take a health information management degree and become everything from a project manager to a human resources director. The assumption is that you’ll want to climb the corporate ladder and assume a supervisory role somewhere.
Is Health Information Technology a Good Career Choice?
Health information technology can be a very worthwhile career choice for many. It’s in high demand, and experts don’t see that changing anytime soon.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in medical records and health information systems are expected to grow by a rate of 8% within the next decade. That’s much higher than the national average for all occupations and translates into thousands of new jobs.
Health informatics jobs often result in impressive paydays. While the average salary for bachelor’s degree holder is $77,920 per year, that number can reach more than $100,000 per year for select HIT occupations. The minimum requirement is nothing more than a bachelor’s degree.
What Does a Health Information Technologist Do?
Also known as “health information technicians” and “health informatics specialists,” health information technologists work with computers within the healthcare industry.
They might code systems and software; they might be in charge of medical records and patient accounts; they might work in information technology (IT) to troubleshoot problems. Their job duties can be just as flexible as their work titles.
How Long Does it Take To Get a Health Information Technology Degree?
The length of your schooling will depend on the type of degree that you’re seeking:
- Associate degree. Offered by community colleges, an associate degree in health informatics may be earned in two years or less. It typically requires 60 credits.
- Bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree is typically a four-year degree. For health information technology, it’s usually offered as a Bachelor of Science (BS), and it can take other names like “health information management” or “health systems and technology.” It usually requires 120 credits.
- Master’s degree. A master’s degree typically takes anywhere from 1 – 3 years to finish. Credit requirements can vary since the work will be more demanding as a graduate student. Generally speaking, you’ll need around 30 – 60.
- Doctorate degree. The highest degree is a doctorate. It’s most commonly offered as a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Health Informatics. It usually takes 3 – 8 years to finish.
If you want to get out of school faster, talk to an academic advisor. They might be able to accelerate your degree program with special shortcuts. For example, a dual degree program may allow you to complete your bachelor’s and master’s studies in five years instead of six.
What Skills do I Need to be a Health Information Technologist?
A health information technologist needs to have a strong eye for detail. Since you’ll probably be working with lots of data, including numbered codes and other forms of medical and technological input, you don’t want small details to pass you by.
You’ll also need good administrative skills, including organizational skills. You’ll need patience, diligence, intelligence and a certain amount of tech savviness. If you’re aiming for a leadership position, you’ll need to be comfortable making decisions and delegating tasks.
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Additionally, you should be okay with working behind the scenes of the healthcare industry. Information technologists rarely get the glory of doctors and other bigwigs.
How Much Do Health Information Technologists Make?
It isn’t always easy to get a degree in health information technology, but the good news is that your paycheck may make up for it.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average is $77,920 per year for a bachelor’s degree holder. And in health informatics, that figure can climb to more than $100,000 per year with the highest-paying careers.
Getting Your Health Information Technology Degree Online
As the world continues to explore the possibilities of digital systems and networks, fields like health information technology will keep growing. It may be a great time to get a degree and find a niche within the industry. Consider enrolling in a university program to get started with a health information technology degree.