What Is a Health Information Technician?


Updated February 6, 2023

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A health information technician has important responsibilities in the healthcare industry. Discover their daily tasks, necessary skills, and potential specializations for this career path.

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A health information technician reviews, organizes, and stores healthcare-related documents. Their primary responsibility is to ensure compliance with healthcare privacy laws, like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). They also ensure the accuracy of documents and prepare records for billing and insurance purposes.

Health information technology professionals complete several kinds of duties each day, collaborating with multiple departments. These jobs can suit workers who thrive in busy, multitasking environments.

Generally, this career requires a relevant certification or associate degree, but some employers may prefer candidates with bachelor's degrees. Health information technicians can specialize their expertise, working in positions like medical coder and medical records technician.

Follow this guide to learn more about the health information technician job description.

History of Health Information Technicians

Health information management is a necessary response to the digitization of medical records. Although medical records began transitioning to electronic systems in the 1990s, it wasn't until the new millennium that digital medical records became more standardized.

In 2004, President George W. Bush established the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. He tasked the agency with creating and implementing advanced technology to protect, organize, and access health records.

Since then, health informatics has grown to offer simpler medical information exchanges between healthcare systems. Health information technicians streamline the process through their organization and storage of medical records. Specialized technicians also design, implement, and test new systems to ease bottlenecks between patients, healthcare providers, and medical records specialists.

What Does a Health Information Technician Do?

Health information technicians review and organize medical records. These specialists may also pull and review data related to legal cases regarding a patient or their medical treatment.

Hospitals and medical facilities rely on these professionals to file patient health data securely and efficiently. Health information technicians typically interact with medical providers, patients, and insurance companies daily. They may also liaise with the software engineers responsible for creating or improving electronic medical record systems.

The healthcare offices where health information technicians work can be fast-paced and demanding. Therefore, these specialists must remain calm under pressure and have excellent problem-solving skills to meet their responsibilities.

They can also benefit from the following soft and hard skills:

Key Soft Skills for Health Information Technicians

  • Interpersonal: Health information technicians communicate with healthcare specialists about patient records. They may also verify information with patients. Interpersonal skills can help them discuss records with empathy and respect.
  • Organization: Because handling medical records is a primary role for these professionals, organizational skills are essential. Health information specialists adhere to best practices for filing sensitive medical information so it can be found easily and stored securely.
  • Ethics: A health information technician works with confidential medical records every day. Strong ethics allow them to commit to protecting patients' privacy. They comply with medical records laws and regulations.
  • Time Management: Because health information technicians often work for busy healthcare facilities, they need strong time management skills to effectively multitask and access records efficiently.

Key Hard Skills for Health Information Technicians

  • Computers and Technology: Health information technicians work with computers to store, organize, and retrieve medical records. Some technicians create and update these electronic systems. Others must know how to use the latest technology to manage and share patient records.
  • HIPAA: HIPAA is the cornerstone of health information technicians' responsibilities. Some employers may require their specialists to become certified in HIPAA practices. Non-certified technicians must also uphold HIPAA laws and best practices when handling, storing, and sharing medical records.
  • Medical Terminology: Understanding medical terminology allows health information technicians to review and discuss medical records with healthcare specialists effectively. At a minimum, they should know common medical abbreviations, root words, and suffixes for body parts and medical procedures.
  • Data Entry: These professionals enter medical data — such as procedure codes and patient information — into electronic medical records systems. As such, they need accurate, timely data entry skills.

A Day in the Life of a Health Information Technician

After a medical provider collects a patient's health records, a health information technician checks the records for accuracy and files them within a digital system. Daily duties typically include using software to code and categorize treatments, procedures, and other data; maintaining the confidentiality of records; and analyzing records for insurance or legal purposes.

Health Information Technician Salary and Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), health information technologists and medical registrars earned a median annual salary of $55,560 in 2021. The BLS projects these careers will grow 17% from 2021 to 2031, a much-faster-than-average rate of growth.

Location and industry can affect salaries. According to 2021 BLS data, health information technicians earned the highest average wages in New York, Maryland, and California. Similarly, the industries offering the highest average salaries include scientific research and development services; computer systems design; and management, scientific, and technical consulting services.

Experience also typically influences earning potential: According to January 2023 Payscale data, a midcareer health information technician with 5-9 years of experience earns, on average, nearly $3 more per hour than an entry-level professional.


Annual Median Salary

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

How to Become a Health Information Technician

Health information technicians can typically enter the field with an associate degree or postsecondary certificate. Some employers require a certificate or bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. However, other employers may accept the completion of a bootcamp in data science or a related area.

Some employers may also prefer candidates with a registered health information technician (RHIT) credential from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). RHIT candidates need an associate degree from an accredited or AHIMA-accepted institution.

Follow the links below to learn more about becoming a health information technician.

How to Become a Health Information Technician

How to Become a Health Information Technician

Learn what it takes to become a health information technician, including education and experience requirements.

Data Science Degrees

Data Science Degrees

Explore how data science degrees can build necessary technical and analytical skills for future health information technicians.

Bachelor's in Data Science Programs

Bachelor's in Data Science Programs

Should you pursue a bachelor's degree as a prospective health information specialist? Learn more about this degree path.

Data Science Bootcamps

Data Science Bootcamps

Discover how a data science bootcamp can lead to a career in health information technology.

Similar Specializations and Career Paths

Health information technicians can pursue several career paths by gaining on-the-job experience or pursuing additional certifications and degrees. A few potential careers include:

  • IT Architect: Information technology architects manage organizations' IT infrastructure. Healthcare IT architects are responsible for maintaining and upgrading digital health records systems to ensure ease of use for professionals and confidentiality for patients. They also provide technical guidance to their organizations and collaborate with software engineers and network administrators to enhance systems.
  • Data Analyst: Healthcare data analysts use data collected from patient records and medical facilities to improve patient care and efficiency in healthcare institutions. Their datasets may include financial, behavioral, and pharmaceutical data. They create models and reports from analyzed data to present to healthcare leaders.
  • Clinical Coder: Also known as medical coders, clinical coding specialists translate healthcare treatments, procedures, and diagnoses into standardized codes for billing and insurance purposes. They have a firm grasp of medical terminology and up-to-date coding practices to ensure accurate billing outcomes. Some clinical coders double as billing specialists.
  • Software Developer: Health informatics software developers design and implement software to enhance the electronic health records system. For instance, they might create software that helps medical professionals input diagnostic information into a computer efficiently. They also test, improve, and secure software for organizations.
  • Health Information Technologist: Health information technologists typically work on the back end of medical records systems, assisting with developing electronic databases. These technologists tend to have a strong foundation in IT management that allows them to update or secure databases as needed. They may also educate teams on storing, retrieving, and analyzing patient data properly.
Explore data about these careers in the table below
Career Required Education Required Experience Median Annual Salary, 2021 Projected Growth Rate, 2021-31

IT Architect

Bachelor's degree

5 years or more



Data Analyst

Bachelor's degree




Clinical Coder

Postsecondary certificate




Software Developer

Bachelor's degree




Health Information Technologist

Associate degree




Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Resources for Health Information Technicians

Numerous organizations in the health informatics industry enhance the health information specialists job field. Consider joining a professional organization for network growth and career development.

Professional Organizations for Health Information Technicians

  • American Health Information Management Association: With roots tracing back to 1928, AHIMA has become a leader in the health informatics industry with their commitment to improving medical recordkeeping. The organization's RHIT certification is one of the top credentials for health information technicians.
  • HIMSS Electronic Health Record Association: Members and organizations of the EHR Association work together to enhance the technology and practices associated with electronic health records. Members can participate in exclusive educational, networking, and certification opportunities, even collaborating with stakeholders and policymakers.
  • American Medical Informatics Association:AMIA connects health information professionals interested in advancing the health informatics industry through evolving technology. The organization accepts members of all career levels — including students — and offers them access to industry news, resources, and best practices.
  • AAPC: Since 1988, AAPC has provided educational resources and certification programs for medical coders and related healthcare occupations. Members can access webinars and workshops for continuing education credits and certification programs.

Health Information Technician Questions

  • What are health information technician jobs like?

    Health information technology jobs are generally fast-paced, requiring excellent problem-solving and multitasking skills. Some of these professionals work on technical systems that store and manage medical records. Others review, analyze, and organize documents.

  • What skills do you need to be a health information technician?

    Primary skills for health information technicians include interpersonal, analytical, and multitasking skills to keep up with the demands of their jobs. Because they handle sensitive medical information, ethics and legal compliance are a priority for these professionals.

  • Is health information technology a hard job?

    Like all jobs, health information technology positions can be stressful and demanding. Individuals interested in this career path should be prepared to work in busy healthcare environments, keep up with new technology, and communicate with others frequently.

  • What degree do you need to be a health information technician?

    Health information technicians can find entry-level work with a high school diploma, associate degree, or postsecondary certificate. However, some employers may require bachelor's degrees or health informatics certifications.

Page last reviewed on Dec 20, 2023

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