Entry-Level Careers in Health Information Management (HIM)
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Simply put, HIM is the collection, analysis, storage, and protection of health information. Healthcare facilities of all sizes must have HIM procedures and trained staff to help manage this large number of sensitive and private data. These roles can include entry-level work all the way up through executive-level professionals.
There are a wide variety of careers in HIM that require different levels of education and work experience. 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. Some of these fields require a degree, while others may only require on-the-job training.
Many professionals in this field will pursue voluntary certification through the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) or the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) to demonstrate competency in this field. While most entry-level HIM jobs will not require certification, it can be something to work towards for those just entering this field.
Continue reading this article to learn more about eight entry-level HIM positions that are accessible to most aspiring professionals. Included are job responsibilities, comparative salary prospects*, and how each role offers opportunities for advancement.
Become a Credentialing Specialist
Job duties: Credentialing specialists handle all aspects of physician credentialing and reappointment. This is a critical role as facilities, and physicians need credentials to bill insurance or Medicare, have hospital privileges, or have access to surgery centers. Day-to-day tasks include notifying physicians of expired documentation, inputting information into credentialing software, and following established guidelines with physicians and insurance companies.
- $45,284 median salary (PayScale 2022)
Detailed national wage percentiles (Salary.com 2022):
- 10th percentile: $34,225
- 25th percentile: $38,162
- 50th percentile (median): $42,487
- 75th percentile: $47,990
- 90th percentile: $53,001
Certifications: Certified Provider Credentialing Specialist (CPCS) through National Association Medical Staff Services (NAMSS)
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 to control costs and improve care. From there, positions such as reimbursement and insurance manager, coding trainer, or clinical informatics coordinator may be well within reach.
Become an HIM Clerk
Job duties: HIM clerks multi-skilled professionals, completing tasks such as chart preparation, data analyses for deficiencies, and quality control checks to ensure data integrity. They are also responsible for organizing and maintaining medical records in an office. Often this job can also be referred to as a medical records clerk.
- $37,859 median salary (PayScale 2022)
Detailed national wage percentiles for ‘medical records clerks’ (Salary.com 2022):
- 10th percentile: $29,746
- 25th percentile: $33,372
- 50th percentile (median): $37,354
- 75th percentile: $41,254
- 90th percentile: $44,805
Certifications: Certified Electronic Health Records Specialist (CEHRS) from the National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
Advancement opportunities: With additional certification, some HIM clerks move into medical records and health information specialist roles, earning an annual average salary of $48,310 nationwide, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2021). They may also become certified coding professionals with a median salary of $48,685 (PayScale 2022). Other possibilities include becoming a compliance auditor, coding manager, coding trainer, or HIM manager.
Become a 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. They can also be responsible for completing other clerical tasks as needed.
- $35,354 median salary (PayScale 2022)
Detailed national wage percentiles (Salary.com 2022):
- 10th percentile: $$29,984
- 25th percentile: $33,166
- 50th percentile (median): $36,662
- 75th percentile: $40,665
- 90th percentile: $44,310
Certifications: Certified Healthcare Access Associate (CHAA) from the National Association of Healthcare Access Management (NAHAM)
Advancement opportunities: Some patient registrars move into health information technician roles with additional certification. From there, relatively lucrative positions such as reimbursement and insurance manager, coding trainer, or clinical informatics coordinator may be well within reach. Years of experience can move patient registrars into senior roles, which earn $43,005 per year on average (Salary.com).
Become a Benefits Coordinator
Job duties: Benefits coordinators manage all employee benefits enrollment, termination, and administration. This includes benefits for health insurance, pensions, and retirement plans. They also verify insurance benefits, plan employee benefits education, and conduct new hire orientation. Most benefits coordinators also ensure their facilities and procedures are in compliance with any local, state, or federal laws. Dispensing on the level of responsibility, a benefits coordinator can also be responsible for researching and negotiating new benefits.
- $49,727 median salary (PayScale 2022)
Detailed national wage percentiles (Salary.com):
- 10th percentile: $38,101
- 25th percentile: $42,344
- 50th percentile (median): $47,004
- 75th percentile: $52,634
- 90th percentile: $57,760
Certifications: Certified Employee Benefit Specialist (CEBS) from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
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.
Become a 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. Other duties can include contracting with collections agencies, referring clients to social services that can help with payments, and recording payment information in accounting software.
- $35,381 median salary (PayScale 2022)
Detailed national wage percentiles for ‘accounts receivable clerks’ (Salary.com 2022):
- 10th percentile: $33,792
- 25th percentile: $37,505
- 50th percentile (median): $41,583
- 75th percentile: $46,288
- 90th percentile: $50,572
Certifications: Medical Collections Specialist with Certified Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS)
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. This career can also be a stepping stone in an accountant or bookkeeper career.
Become a 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. This high-paced job requires a high degree of empathy and patience with what can often be frustrated clients.
- $40,424 median salary for customer service representatives (PayScale 2022)
Detailed national wage percentiles for customer service representatives (Salary.com 2022):
- 10th percentile: $27,707
- 25th percentile: $31,640
- 50th percentile (median): $35,960
- 75th percentile: $40,670
- 90th percentile: $44,958
Certifications: Customer Service Certified (CSC) through MedCerts
Advancement opportunities: With experience and additional training, these HIM professionals can become customer service supervisors, managers, or administrative assistants to medical billing executives. It is not uncommon for customer service representatives to also move into completely new roles within an organization, as this can often be a “foot in the door” job.
Become an 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. Professionals in this field must have good attention to detail and the ability to understand, follow, and enforce rules and procedures.
- $48,182 average median salary (Payscale 2022)
Detailed national wage percentiles (Salary.com 2022):
- 10th percentile: $30,052
- 25th percentile: $33,528
- 50th percentile (median): $37,347
- 75th percentile: $42,017
- 90th percentile: $46,269
Advancement opportunities: Some insurance claims clerks go on to become medical office administrators, insurance claims supervisors, or compliance auditors. Other advancement opportunities that may require additional education can include management roles or even starting a private claims billing company.
Become a 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. This is another job requiring high attention to detail as the correct code can distinguish between a claim being accepted or not. Continuing education is critical in this job.
- $41,114 average median salary (PayScale 2022)
Detailed national wage percentiles for ‘medical billing clerks’ (Salary.com 2022):
- 10th percentile: $33,654
- 25th percentile: $37,189
- 50th percentile (median): $41,073
- 75th percentile: $45,163
- 90th percentile: $48,888
Certification: Certified Professional Biller (CPB) from the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC)
Advancement opportunities: Medical billers may have the most flexibility regarding 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.