Entry-Level Careers in Health Information Management (HIM)

Variety is the spice of life—and it’s also a basic feature of the health information management (HIM) profession. Many HIM workers serve in multiple positions throughout their careers, allowing them to explore the varied fields of data management, as well as information release, protection, and analytics.

This article identifies eight entry-level HIM positions and explores the job responsibilities, comparative salary prospects*, and how each role offers opportunities for advancement.

*Please note that Payscale and Glassdoor rely on self-reported salaries, and Salary.com gets its proprietary data directly from employers.

Credentialing Specialist

  • Job duties: Credentialing specialists handle all aspects of physician credentialing and reappointment. This includes notifying physicians of any expired documentation, inputting information into credentialing software, and following up with physicians and insurance companies in accordance with established guidelines.
  • Salary:

    • $41,573 median salary (Payscale Jan. 2017)
    • $35,560 average salary (Glassdoor)
    • Detailed national wage percentiles (Salary.com):
      • 10th percentile: $30,035
      • 25th percentile: $33,492
      • 50th percentile (median): $37,288
      • 75th percentile: $42,122
      • 90th percentile: $46,522
  • Advancement opportunities: With additional certification, some credentialing specialists move into health information technician roles, focusing on document scanning, merging duplicate medical record numbers, retrieving and releasing records, and using computer applications to analyze patient information with the goal of controlling costs and improving care. From there, positions such as reimbursement and insurance manager, coding trainer, or clinical informatics coordinator may be well within reach.

HIM Clerk

  • Job duties: HIM clerks multi-skilled professionals, completing tasks such as as chart preparation, data analyses for deficiencies, and quality control checks to ensure data integrity.
  • Salary:

    • $35,886 median salary (Payscale Jan. 2017)
    • Glassdoor.com does not list a salary for this position
    • Detailed national wage percentiles for ‘medical records clerks’ (Salary.com):
      • 10th percentile: $25,230
      • 25th percentile: $28,295
      • 50th percentile (median): $31,662
      • 75th percentile: $34,970
      • 90th percentile: $37,982
  • Advancement opportunities: With additional certification, some HIM clerks move into health information technician roles, earning an annual average salary of $40,430 nationwide according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2015). They may also become certified coding professionals, who make a median salary of $43,672 (Payscale) and an average salary of $51,454 (Advancing the Business of Healthcare Salary Survey, 2015). Other possibilities including becoming a compliance auditor, coding manager, coding trainer, or HIM manager.

Patient Registrar

  • Job duties: Patient registrars are often the first people with whom patients have contact when scheduling an appointment and/or checking in at a healthcare facility. Registrars are responsible for collecting insurance and demographic information, obtaining patient signatures on consent forms, preparing patient charts, and serving as general liaisons between patients and medical staff.
  • Salary:

    • $30,129 median salary (Payscale Jan. 2017)
    • $26,650 average salary (Glassdoor)
    • Detailed national wage percentiles (Salary.com):
      • 10th percentile: $26,421
      • 25th percentile: $29,220
      • 50th percentile (median): $32,295
      • 75th percentile: $35,827
      • 90th percentile: $39,042
  • Advancement opportunities: With additional certification, some patient registrars move into health information technician roles. From there, relatively lucrative positions such as reimbursement and insurance manager, coding trainer, or clinical informatics coordinator may be well within reach.

Benefits Coordinator

  • Job duties: Benefits coordinators manage all employee benefit enrollment, termination, and administration. This includes benefits for health insurance, pensions, and retirement plans. They also verify insurance benefits, plan employee benefit education, and conduct new hire orientation.
  • Salary:

    • $43,950 median salary (Payscale Jan. 2017)
    • $34,340 average salary (Glassdoor)
    • Detailed national wage percentiles (Salary.com):
      • 10th percentile: $33,386
      • 25th percentile: $37,111
      • 50th percentile (median): $41,202
      • 75th percentile: $46,125
      • 90th percentile: $50,608
  • Advancement opportunities: Similar to patient registrars, some benefits coordinators move into other roles, becoming health information technicians, reimbursement and insurance managers, coding trainers, or clinical informatics coordinators.

Collections Clerk

  • Job duties: These clerks are tasked with collecting overdue payments, managing collection data, and contacting patients to resolve billing issues. They also must stay on top of evolving employer guidelines and local legislation.
  • Salary:

    • $38,268 median salary (Payscale Jan. 2017)
    • Glassdoor.com does not list a salary for this position
    • Detailed national wage percentiles for ‘accounts receivable clerks’ (Salary.com):
      • 10th percentile: $29,410
      • 25th percentile: $33,109
      • 50th percentile (median): $37,171
      • 75th percentile: $41,928
      • 90th percentile: $46,259
  • Advancement opportunities: With additional training and/or certification, some collections clerks move into varied roles, including accounts receivable clerking, credit/collections management, or collections specialization.

Medical Billing Customer Service Representative

  • Job duties: Medical billing customer service representatives handle patient calls, answer billing-related questions, capture patient demographic information, and provide market research that assists with business development.
  • Salary:

    • $36,050 median salary for ‘customer service representatives’ (Payscale Jan. 2017)
    • Glassdoor.com does not list a salary for this position
    • Detailed national wage percentiles for ‘customer service representatives’ (Salary.com):
      • 10th percentile: $25,525
      • 25th percentile: $29,192
      • 50th percentile (median): $33,221
      • 75th percentile: $37,926
      • 90th percentile: $42,209
  • Advancement opportunities: With experience and additional training, these HIM professionals can become customer service supervisors, managers, or administrative assistants to medical billing executives.

Insurance Claims Clerk

  • Job duties: Insurance claims clerks review insurance policies to determine coverage, respond to patient inquiries, and maintain files that include claim-related information.
  • Salary:

    • $14.00/hour (Payscale Jan. 2017)
    • Glassdoor.com does not list a salary for this position
    • Detailed national wage percentiles (Salary.com):
      • 10th percentile: $25,996
      • 25th percentile: $28,489
      • 50th percentile (median): $31,228
      • 75th percentile: $35,308
      • 90th percentile: $39,023
  • Advancement opportunities: Some insurance claims clerks go on to become medical office administrators, insurance claims supervisors or compliance auditors.

Medical Biller

  • Job duties: Medical billers assign diagnosis and procedure codes based on physician documentation; submit technical and professional medical claims; keep up-to-date with evolving coding systems; and demonstrate adherence to all relevant compliance policies and procedures.
  • Salary:

    • $35,613 average median salary (Payscale Jan. 2017)
    • $30,480 average salary (Glassdoor)
    • Detailed national wage percentiles for ‘medical billing clerks’ (Salary.com):
      • 10th percentile: $29,752
      • 25th percentile: $32,060
      • 50th percentile (median): $34,594
      • 75th percentile: $38,946
      • 90th percentile: $42,908
  • Advancement opportunities: Medical billers may have the most flexibility in terms of upward career mobility. With additional education and certification, they can move into positions such as health information technician, implementation support specialist, content analyst, data analyst, and many more.

Author’s note: To learn more about career paths in HIM, please visit AHIMA’s career map and Career and Student Center. Also, consider taking an HIM career self-assessment to better understand which prospective HIM role may be most appropriate.

HealthInformatics@GW - The George Washington University
Online Master's - Health Informatics
University of Illinois at Chicago
Online MS in Health Informatics
Post-Master's Certificate - Health Informatics
Grand Canyon University
MS - Health Informatics
BS - Health Information Management
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Lisa A. Eramo
Lisa A. Eramo Writer

Lisa A. Eramo, BA, MA is a full-time freelance healthcare writer specializing in health information management, medical coding, and regulatory topics. She regularly contributes to various healthcare publications and assists clients with healthcare content development, including blogs, articles, white papers, case studies, and more. Visit her website at www.lisaeramo.com.