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How to Become a Medical Records Technician

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Medical Records Technician

What medical records technicians do

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov, 2012), medical records and health information technicians maintain patient health records, and ensure they remains accurate, complete, and confidential. These records include information like a patient’s medical history, symptoms, as well as lab and exam results.

Though their specific duties can vary depending on the size of the medical facility they work at, these professionals are generally knowledgeable in various medical classification systems which they use for data entry and purposes like insurance reimbursement. In addition to maintaining traditional paper records, they may also need to be familiar with computer data-entry software due to the increasing popularity of Electronic Health Records (EHR) systems in the field. They also often collaborate with nurses and doctors.

Many medical records and health information technicians specialize as either medical coders or cancer registrars. Medical coders review and retrieve patient information while also acting as a liaison between medical and billing personnel. Cancer registrars help maintain records for cancer patients and perform duties such as reviewing pathology reports and tracking treatment and recovery paths.

How to become a medical records technician

Aspiring medical records and health information technicians should be detail-oriented, possess technical and analytical skills, and be personable, the BLS reports. The BLS states that these technicians usually need either a post-secondary certificate or an associate degree in an area of study like health information technology.

Most employers favor applicants who have become certified either by graduating from an accredited program or achieving certifications such as a Registered Health Information Technician or Tumor Registrar. Certification requirements can also vary from state to state.

The path to becoming a medical records or health information technician can fluctuate, but generally include the following steps according to information from the BLS.

  • Earn a high-school diploma or GED, taking courses in health, computer science, math and biology
  • Apply for and enroll in an accredited certificate or degree program in health information technology or a related area of study
  • Research state and professional certification options, and gain relevant certifications
  • Apply for an entry-level position as a medical records technician in a medical setting
  • Keep certifications and education up-to-date

No employment is guaranteed as additional training, certifications, licenses or qualifications may be required.

Career outlook for medical records technicians

The BLS projects up to 21 percent national increase in employment for medical records and health information technicians from 2010 to 2020, which is higher than the average occupation growth rate of 14 percent. An aging population and the rise of EHRs contribute to the increased demand for these healthcare professionals.

As of May 2011, the national annual wage for medical records and health information technicians was $33,310 median. The lowest-paid 10 percent made up to $21,680 nationally in 2011 while the highest-paid 10 percent made up to $55,170 nationally in 2011. New Jersey, the District of Columbia, and Hawaii paid the highest wages to professionals in this occupation (bls.gov, 2012).

Earnings vary and are dependent on factors such as professional experience, training, geographic location, education and more.

Quick Facts: Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
*All facts from BLS.gov*

2011 National Median Pay

$33,310 per year; $16.01 per hour

Entry-Level Education

Postsecondary non-degree award

Work Experience in a Related Occupation


On-the-job Training


Number of Jobs, 2011


Job Outlook, 2010-20

21% nationally (Faster than national average)

Employment Change, 2010-20



Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Medical Records and Health Information Technicians, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-records-and-health-information-technicians.htm

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2011, 29-2071 Medical Records and Health Information Technicians, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2011/may/oes292071.htm

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