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Get Started in Health Information Management

Get Started in Health Information Management

Wendy J. Meyeroff / Monster Contributing Writer

Crack the Career Ladder Code

Passing AHIMA’s credentialing exams opens the door to greater opportunities. The entry-level Certified Coding Associate (CCA) designation credentials those with relatively little job experience. A CCA with in-patient facility (usually hospital) experience can advance by earning the Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) designation. Those with expertise in physician-based settings can pursue the Certified Coding Specialist-Physician (CCS-P) designation.

More on Health Information Technology

Salary: $20,000 - $75,000
Min. Education: Diploma, Associate's, Bachelor's
Related Careers: Medical Secretary, Medical Assistant

Professionals with broad knowledge of HIM areas beyond coding can sit for the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) or Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) exam. RHITs must have an associate’s degree, whereas RHIAs must hold a four-year degree.

Class in Session

If you’re considering a career in HIM, experts recommend earning at least an associate’s degree from an AHIMA-accredited school. That degree will give you more job flexibility, such as moving from coding to quality improvement, Carlson says. If your sights are set on management, you’ll generally need a four-year degree and the RHIA credential.

Additional tips for selecting an HIM program include:

• Make sure the program offers a solid foundation in the profession’s two main coding systems — ICD-9 and CPT — as well as training in medical terminology, biology and anatomy.
• Look for programs that offer clinical courses. These courses let you work at hospitals for several weeks, where you gain exposure to different departments and can show potential employers your skills.
• Check the class schedule. Single parents and full-time workers might find it difficult to meet course requirements at schools with no evening classes, or whose clinicals require on-site weekday work for several weeks.
• Remember that while completing a quickie course — some just eight weeks long — may lead to a job in the short-term, your long-term potential could suffer. If the course isn’t accredited, you can’t sit for the credentialing exam, says Taylor. This means you’ll face lower salaries and limited opportunities, and you won’t be able to apply your credits to a college program.

This article originally appeared on Monster Career Advice.

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