Government experts anticipate growing demand for electronic medical records specialists in America’s rapidly changing and expanding healthcare sector.

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These trained technicians organize and manage patient health data in digital and hard-copy formats, ensuring the quality, accuracy, accessibility and security of this critical documentation. Electronic health records specialists must be able to confidentially discuss patient information with doctors, insurance personnel, healthcare administrators and other professionals, keeping a sharp eye on details and potential discrepancies in the records.

The nation’s aging population is a leading reason for strong growth in electronic health records jobs. Claims for reimbursement from private and public insurance providers are expected to climb as seniors require more medical tests, treatments and procedures. Electronic medical records specialists will play a key role in keeping these claims flowing smoothly between healthcare providers and insurers.

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While modern digital technology has revolutionized medical records keeping, the foundations of this career date to the Jazz Age. The American College of Surgeons created the Association of Record Librarians of North America in 1928 to “elevate the standards of clinical records in hospitals and other medical institutions.”

Today, the record-keeping organization is known as the American Health Information Management Association and has more than 67,000 members.

Job Outlook and Salary Range for Electronic Medical Records Specialists

Overall, demand for medical records professionals, including health information technicians, is expected to increase 22% through 2022, twice the 11% average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The agency said more than 41,000 jobs will be added, taking the total number of jobs to 227,500.

As of May 2014, the highest concentrations of these jobs were in general medical and surgical hospitals, and physicians’ offices, the BLS reported.

The median pay for medical records and health information technicians was $35,900 in May 2014. Those working in hospitals had a higher average salary of $41,300. Those working in doctors’ offices, the second-largest employer, had an average salary of $33,900, according to the BLS.

Potential salary ranges and employment prospects vary based on numerous factors, including local market conditions, and a candidate’s work history and educational qualifications.

Education and Training for Electronic Health Records Jobs

The BLS reports that entry into the field of health information and medical records generally requires at least a two-year associate’s degree and professional certification, such as Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT). The American Health Information Management Association and the American Academy of Professional Coders are among the organizations that offer certification programs.

Individuals seeking more advanced career opportunities may need a four-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. A master’s degree is typically required to enter management, teaching and other leadership positions in the field.

Medical records professionals must keep pace with the latest advances in technology, which means that their education and training should be ongoing.