Career Q&A: Informatics Specialist
In Demand: Careers in Health Care, Career Voyages, U.S. Dept. of Labor
What will I do?
Informatics is a hard term to pin down, but it basically means turning a vast amount of data into useful information. Informatics specialists then use the information solve problems or design new technology procedures or products.
In health care, there are two main branches of informatics. One – known as bioinformatics – mainly focuses on molecular topics. The other branch of health care informatics involves larger scale data, such as the study of populations.
Bioinformatics specialists typically work in labs, especially at genetics centers, at universities or for private corporations. An example of the work of specialists in the other type of health care informatics includes detecting cancer trends from a vast collection of medical reports. Another is developing electronic tracking systems or working with financial data.
What training will I need?
Bioinformatics specialists usually need an advanced degree in science such as biology or genetics, plus a heavy-duty background in computer languages and programming. A good source for finding schools that offer bioinformatics training is the Bioinformatics Organization, Inc. at www.bioinformatics.org.
Students who seek training in the more broad type of health care informatics have several options. Training is available at many ranges for many types of jobs within the field, from technical school degrees to master’s degrees and beyond. The American Medical Informatics Association posts a helpful list of training opportunities at www.amia.org/informatics/acad&training/.
More on Health Information Technology
Salary: $20,000 - $75,000
Min. Education: Diploma, Associate's, Bachelor's
Related Careers: Medical Secretary, Medical Assistant
What will I get paid?
Solid information on salaries in health care informatics is scarce because the field is so diverse. Pay in both types of informatics generally corresponds to the number of years of schooling and experience.