Medword Resources: Medical Coder

A Bright Future for Medical Coders

Medical Medical Coder Defined

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U.S. Department of Labor
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U.S. Department of Labor

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement Back to Top

Entry-level medical records and health information technicians usually have an associate degree. Many employers favor technicians who have a Registered Health Information Technicians (RHIT) credential.

Education and training. Medical records and health information technicians generally have an associate degree. Typical coursework in health information technology includes medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, health data requirements and standards, clinical classification and coding systems, data analysis, healthcare reimbursement methods, database security and management, and quality improvement methods. Applicants can improve their chances of admission into a postsecondary program by taking biology, math, chemistry, health, and computer science courses in high school.

Certification and other qualifications. Most employers prefer to hire credentialed medical record and health information technicians. A number of organizations offer credentials typically based on passing a credentialing exam. Most credentialing programs require regular recertification and continuing education to maintain the credential. Many coding credentials require an amount of time in coding experience in the work setting.

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers credentialing as a Registered Health Information Technicians (RHIT). To obtain the RHIT credential, an individual must graduate from a 2-year associate degree program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) and pass an AHIMA-administered written examination. In 2008, there were more than 200 CAHIIM-accredited health information technology colleges and universities programs.

The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) offers coding credentials. The Board of Medical Specialty Coding (BMSC) and Professional Association of Health care Coding Specialists (PAHCS) both offer credentialing in specialty coding. The National Cancer Registrars Association (NCRA) offers a credential as a Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR). To learn more about the credentials available and their specific requirements, contact the credentialing organization.

Health information technicians and coders should possess good oral and written communication skills as they often serve as liaisons between healthcare facilities, insurance companies, and other establishments. Candidates proficient with computer software and technology will be appealing to employers as healthcare facilities continue to adopt electronic health records. Medical records and health information technicians should enjoy learning, as continuing education is important in the occupation.

Advancement. Experienced medical records and health information technicians usually advance their careers by obtaining a bachelor’s or master’s degree or by seeking an advanced specialty certification. Technicians with a bachelor’s or master’s degree can advance and become a health information manager. (See the statement on medical and health services managers for more information on health information managers.) Technicians can also obtain advanced specialty certification. Advanced specialty certification is typically experience-based, but may require additional formal education depending on the certifying organization.

Employment Back to Top

Medical records and health information technicians held about 172,500 jobs in 2008. About 39 percent of jobs were in hospitals. Health information technicians work at a number of healthcare providers such as offices of physicians, nursing care facilities, outpatient care centers, and home healthcare services. Technicians also may be employed outside of healthcare facilities, such as in Federal Government agencies.

Job Outlook Back to Top

Employment is expected to grow much faster than the average. Job prospects should be very good; technicians with a strong understanding of technology and computer software will be in particularly high demand.

Employment change. Employment of medical records and health information technicians is expected to increase by 20 percent, much faster than the average for all occupations through 2018. Employment growth will result from the increase in the number of medical tests, treatments, and procedures that will be performed. As the population continues to age, the occurrence of health-related problems will increase. Cancer registrars should experience job growth as the incidence of cancer increases from an aging population.

In addition, with the increasing use of electronic health records, more technicians will be needed to complete the new responsibilities associated with electronic data management.

Job prospects. Job prospects should be very good. In addition to job growth, numerous openings will result from the need to replace medical record and health information technicians who retire or leave the occupation permanently. Technicians that demonstrate a strong understanding of technology and computer software will be in particularly high demand.

Projections Data Back to Top

Projections data from the National Employment Matrix
Occupation TitleEmployment
Change 2008-18Detailed statistics
Medical records and health information technicians




20PDFzipped XLS

Earnings Back to Top

The median annual wage of medical records and health information technicians was $30,610 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $24,290 and $39,490. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $20,440, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $50,060. Median annual wages in the industries employing the largest numbers of medical records and health information technicians in May 2008 were:

Federal Executive Branch $42,760
General medical and surgical hospitals32,600
Nursing care facilities30,660
Outpatient care centers29,160
Offices of physicians26,210


Related Occupations Back to Top

Health care occupations with similar responsibilities include:

Medical and health services managers

Medical transcriptionists

Billing, Cost, and Rate Clerks

For The Latest Wage Information Back to Top

The above wage data are from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey program, unless otherwise noted. For the latest National, State, and local earnings data, visit the following pages:

  • medical records and health information technicians

  • Sources of Additional Information Back to Top

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    Statistics Citation: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Medical Records and Health Information Technicians , on the Internet at (as at April 19, 2010).