With the increased automation of electronic medical records and growing use of mobile devices by healthcare providers in medical settings, career opportunities in electronic medical records are increasing. Jobs for medical records and health information technicians should increase by 22% between 2012 and 2022, which is double the average growth rate for all occupations nationwide, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports.

For career-changers and college students seeking to use their technology skills in a healthcare setting, the field of electronic medical records offers solid opportunity.

Levels of Professional Development for EMR

Electronic medical records (EMR) professionals are employed in a variety of healthcare settings, where they store and access medical information digitally. They generally need a two-year associate’s degree as well as professional certification, according to the BLS. Among the national credentialing organizations are the American Health Information Management Association and the American Academy of Professional Coders.

Professionals seeking more advanced opportunities in the field will likely need at least a bachelor’s degree, while those aspiring to leadership opportunities, such as health information manager, instructor or supervisor, generally require a master’s degree.

Ongoing education and professional development are common aspects of this field, preparing individuals to explore various career paths, including working with medical records directly, acting as a liaison among healthcare providers and technology vendors, providing training and becoming a supervisor. Career advancement typically requires a combination of well-developed technical skills and educational knowledge. Attending seminars, joining professional organizations and participating in employer-based training are common practices for EMR professionals.

Employment Settings, Salary Potential and other Considerations in EMR

Electronic medical records professionals work in hospitals, physicians’ offices, assisted living facilities, treatment centers and a variety of other healthcare settings. There may be opportunities to work remotely and EMR professionals who provide consultation or training services may travel as part of their duties.

The average annual salary for health information and medical records technicians was $37,710 as of May 2013, the BLS reports, with the top 10% earning more than $57,000. Salary ranges and employment opportunities are influenced by numerous factors, including an individual’s educational qualifications and work history.

To compete for the most desirable jobs, candidates must not only demonstrate solid skills andknowledge but also exhibit the integrity necessary when dealing with sensitive information. Additional skills that may be desired include impeccable organizational skills, and the ability to utilize highly developed communication skills. Staying current with the technology in the field is also vital to long-term growth and increased opportunity in this field.

For students and professionals interested in combining technical skills with a career in a health-related field, job openings in electronic medical records present a diversity of pathways for advancement. While entering the field with a two-year associate’s degree is possible, a four-year bachelor’s degree may be required to attain advanced job opportunities. Some employers, such as hospitals, private healthcare facilities and government agencies, provide tuition assistance programs and advanced in-house training, so time spent researching the best options for growth in this field is highly recommended.

Ongoing education is important in order to keep credentials current and to advance into leadership roles. Enrolling in a nationally ranked and regionally accredited university can help students secure a competitive edge by attaining the body of knowledge necessary to pass credentialing exams.

With a strong employment outlook in the coming years, a career in electronic medical records may offer a wide range of opportunities in a vital and growing part of the healthcare industry.

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