Healthcare is a broad field with plenty of opportunities — there will always be a need for quality medical aid, especially as our nation’s population not only grows but ages. Many different types of healthcare jobs are available, and these positions evolve with the ever-changing medical industry.
Getting started in healthcare does not always require as much training as one might think. Some healthcare vocations require only a minimum of a certificate of completion — or even just on-the-job medical training — while others require graduate studies.
Most healthcare jobs require an amount of training in the middle: a two-year associate degree. You can get an associate degree from a community college or a vocational/technical school.
Are you looking for a managerial position that is all-encompassing of the healthcare industry? A healthcare administrator, also called a healthcare executive, plans, directs, coordinates, and supervises the delivery of healthcare to patients. A healthcare administrator is often a specialist who manages a clinical department or a general manager who looks over an entire facility. With these types of responsibilities, administrators must be well organized and detail oriented.
Because the healthcare industry changes often, current and future healthcare professionals should be prepared for a restructuring of the profession. This will include integrating new healthcare delivery systems, technology innovations, complex regulations, and an increased focus on preventative care. Flexibility, and the ability to quickly learn new tasks, will be excellent assets to anyone's career as a healthcare administrator.
What Healthcare Administrators Do
As with any managerial position, healthcare administrators are asked to monitor and improve the quality of care they provide, along with its efficiency. You’ll be highly needed in both large and small operations and facilities.
In small offices, healthcare administrators manage the daily activities on a more detail-oriented basis, including overseeing personnel, finances, facility operations and admissions, while also providing care when needed. In a larger organization, healthcare administrators manage daily decision-making and assist with direct activities in clinical areas, including nursing, surgery, therapy, medical records, or health information.
Day to day, whether you work in a hospital or clinical setting, you’ll have many responsibilities. You will be in charge of coordinating the actions of all departments, ensuring they operate as one unit. You’ll act as a liaison between governing boards and medical staff, recruiting and hiring administrators, doctors, and nurses. You will plan budgets, assist with further education for staff, and develop procedures for the organization or practice. Healthcare administrators must remain knowledgeable and up to date on new healthcare laws and regulations, as well as medical and technological advancements.
This role requires you to have an even mix of business and interpersonal skills. If you consider yourself to be business savvy — a natural leader with exceptional interpersonal and communication skills — you may be right for the job. Skilled healthcare administrators are vital to the industry, ensuring that medical facilities run effectively and efficiently to deliver quality patient care.
How Become a Healthcare Admin
To work in a hospital, rehabilitation facility, group medical practice, outpatient care facility or hospice organization, healthcare administrators are required to earn an MBA from a program with a specialization in healthcare management.
At the administrator level, most employers will require that you have earned your master’s and had experience in the field. Coursework may include, but isn’t limited to, healthcare policy, information management, economics, and financial management.
Pay and Job Outlook
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of healthcare administrators is expected to increase 32 percent by 2030, which is more than double the average growth for other occupations. This demand opens up new opportunities for healthcare careers. Salary will vary depending on your location and employer. The BLS reported that the average 2021 salary for healthcare administrators $119,840.
Health Information Management
What Health Information Managers Do
A health information manager (HIM) works within a combination of industries, including business, science, and information technology. Vital to the healthcare industry, health information managers interact with clinical and administrative staff on a daily basis. Healthcare staff rely on health information and the health information manager to perform their daily responsibilities.
As a health information manager (HIM), you are considered an expert in the areas of processing, analyzing, and reporting information that is crucial to the healthcare industry. A mix of good business sense, computer skills, and health information bridges the gap between patients’ health information and health insurers, state and federal government, and other regulating agencies.
Office settings for health information managers can vary. There is a need for HIMs across many different industries, allowing you the opportunity to work beyond hospitals and in places like accounting firms, insurance companies, information systems vendors, government agencies, and pharmaceutical research businesses.
You’ll have a variety of responsibilities, including managing and securing patient records while ensuring accuracy and compliance with federal mandates. Health information managers also protect the security of healthcare databases and work to make sure only authorized personnel can access them.
How To Become a Health Information Manager
A health information manager must earn a bachelor’s degree. Once you have completed your undergraduate training, it’s a encouraged to pursue a master’s degree. A master’s degree will give you a large advantage and competitive edge, but it isn’t required to work in the field.
Certification offered through the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) is required once you have received your bachelor’s and/or master’s degree. Those who pass the certification exam earn the recognition and title of Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA).
Certification after receiving a bachelor’s or master’s degree allows you to reach a knowledge and skill level within the health information management field that is nationally recognized.
Employment Outlook and Salary
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the health services management field is expected to increase 32 percent by 2030, which again, is much faster than average for all occupations. The BLS also reported that the average salary for health services managers in 2021 was $119,840.
Medical Billing & Coding
Main article: Medical Billing and Coding
Medical billing and coding professionals are responsible for the circulation of medical information among physicians, patients, and third-party payers. Medical billing and coding specialists make sure that each piece of information is accurate so that healthcare providers are paid for medical services.
What Medical Billers & Coders Do
Medical billing and medical coding perform two essential functions. With medical coding, your job is to enter the diagnostic, treatment, or procedure code into the facility’s database to produce a claim.
If you’re a medical biller, you are responsible for acting as a liaison between the facility and payment parties. Depending on the healthcare facility, the job duties and title of a medical billing and coding specialist may be split between two specialists, or assigned to one.
Medical billing and coding professionals are in charge of multiple aspects of the medical industry. From handling collections insurance fraud to reviewing medical procedures documented by doctors, you must operate in a timely and efficient manner. Job duties will include translating medical procedures into codes, transmitting coded information, coordinating insurance reimbursement and handling patient billing.
If these job duties are split into two individual jobs, the workload will differ for each specialist. Medical coders will be responsible for reviewing the patient’s medical records, using Common Procedure Terminology (CPT) codes to code treatment information, and communicating with billing specialists to ensure codes have been accurately received. Medical billing specialists, on the other hand, will receive patient treatment codes, create reimbursement claims to transfer to third-party payers, coordinate payment activities, and bill patients for medical services.
How to Become a Medical Biller or Coder
A two-year associate degree is the most common education choice for medical billers and coders. Having unique attributes will put you ahead of the competition as well. Whether you’re a detail-oriented professional or your phone etiquette is top notch, any unique skill you can bring to the medical billing and coding field will benefit you. Staying organized and well disciplined will help the work run smoothly and more efficiently, ultimately providing your coworkers with a reliable team player.
Find a medical billing program.
Find a medical coding program.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical billers earned an average of $42,750 in 2021, with the top 10 percent making closer to $59,750. Medical coders in 2021 reportedly averaged $48,310, with the top 10 percent earning $74,200.
Medical Records Technician
Do people describe your personality as analytical, detail oriented, and technical? Are you known for the way you connect with other people and your high level of integrity? If so, you may find a lot of success as a medical records technician — especially if you’ve got those soft skills needed in the industry.
What Medical Records Technicians Do
Medical records technicians are responsible for maintaining the files within a patient’s health portfolio. From symptoms to diagnostic tests and treatment methods, you must keep track of each piece of information. You’ll record patients’ medical histories by arranging, reviewing, and filing documentation of their condition, treatment, and possibly, any long-term care.
Medical records technicians maintain records by searching the master patient index, identifying existing patient records, and interacting with registration areas for verification of information. Once the information is verified, you must create and process the record folder. It is also your job to notify healthcare providers of record discrepancies, track any outstanding records, and collect and analyze information to resolve medical record inconsistencies.
Medical records technicians are also involved with preparing statistical reports regarding a variety of topics, such as types of illnesses treated, surgeries performed, and hospital beds used. On top of paperwork, medical records technicians are responsible for answering the questions and requests of patients, hospital staff, law firms, insurance companies, and government agencies.
How to Become a Medical Records Tech
To become a medical records technician, an associate degree is required. Courses will include biology, anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, business practice, and ethical and legal dimensions. Certification is gained by passing an examination known as the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT). Individuals who can provide employers with a certification will have an advantage over others in the field. You can advance your career by obtaining a bachelor’s degree, which will allow you to apply for supervisory positions.
Maintaining ethical integrity is critical for success, as medical records technicians are trusted to keep patient information confidential. Legal requirements and equipment operational instructions must also be followed, for all records to be filed and properly stored. As with most medical settings, you must have the ability to stay focused in a fast-paced environment; but pay close attention to detail at all times.
Pay and Employment Outlook
The average pay of a medical records technician in 2021 was $48,310, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS also predicts that by 2031, demand for medical records technicians may by 7 percent, which is about as fast as the national average for all occupations.
You think of yourself as being a good listener with critical thinking skills, and you see a job where writing is involved in your future. And — you’re very intent on being in the medical industry. Becoming a medical transcriptionist may be a great gig for you!
Check out the three medical transcriptionist myths, busted!
What a Medical Transcriptionist Does
Medical transcriptionists are responsible for listening to and dictating records from the physician and other healthcare professionals. Medical transcriptionists must be precise and accurate when performing their job, as documents go directly from their hands into the official hospital medical records.
As a medical transcriptionist, you are responsible for transcribing medical records based on a physician’s recordings. You may work in hospitals or physician offices, however, you can also be self-employed or work for an independent transcriptionist company. There are many different types of medical transcriptionists, and the various job tasks to be performed will depend on the employer.
In general, transcriptionists are responsible for receiving prerecorded audio notes from physician procedures. You’ll review the audio recordings for content, transcribe them into a typewritten format, edit and proofread the text for accuracy, and then submit the transcribed documents to the official hospital records department.
How to Become a Medical Transcriptionist
To become a medical transcriptionist, you must complete the necessary education. A certificate program or associate degree are the most common choices, lasting from 6 months to 2 years, depending on the program you enroll in. To enter the medical world as a Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT), you will need at least 2 years of work experience and a passing grade on the National Certification Exam.
Find a medical transcription program.
There is some necessary knowledge required to fulfill the tasks required by medical transcriptionists. This includes strong communication skills, an understanding of grammar and diction, the ability to organize paperwork efficiently, and vision and hearing capabilities. Medical terminology will also be used to convey treatment methods accurately.
Pay and Employment Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there is a decline of 7 percent in employment projected through 2030. While there will still be a need for transcription of records due to an aging general population, software is now able to transcribe, which means transcriptionists jobs are not quite as in-demand.
Medical transcriptionists still occupy an important role in any medical setting, however. The BLS stated that the average salary for medical transcriptionists in 2021 was $34,220.
Medical Insurance Specialist
Medical insurance specialists, also known as insurance billers, medical coders, or claims examiners, are responsible for processing health insurance claims and maintaining patient records. With the proper knowledge, organizational skills, and ability to communicate effectively, a career as a medical insurance specialist could be a good fit.
What a Medical Insurance Specialist Does
Medical insurance specialists are key players in the healthcare industry, where they are also known as insurance billers, medical coders, or claims examiners. Medical insurance specialists are responsible for processing medical insurance claims, medical coding, and maintaining patient records. You work in a hospital or medical office, where you will interact with a multitude of clients throughout the day.
Medical insurance specialists hold many responsibilities. It is your duty to review patient records using medical coding procedures, examine claims, and verify insurance eligibility. You must file any medical charges or payments, detect coding errors, and perform modifications as necessary. Medical insurance specialists are also in charge of updating and organizing any internal databases where a patient’s records, billing details, and registration forms may be stored.
Having the right skill set to perform the job is essential. Medical insurance specialists must have excellent communication skills, as you assist patients in understanding medical benefits and must communicate with other medical staff members. The ability to multitask and assign priority level is required in this field as well.
How to Become a Medical Insurance Specialist
Those looking to begin a career in medical insurance must get the proper education. Most employers prefer applicants with previous experience in the field, and an associate degree is essential. Medical insurance specialist programs are offered through universities and community colleges. During the program, you will learn about office procedures, medical coding, and medical terminology, along with other classes.
Receiving certification in the field is not required but should be obtained to move up in the industry. Insurance specialists can earn a Certified Professional Coder (CPC) certification from the American Academy of Professional Coders. To get the certification, you must have a minimum of two years of experience and must pass a written exam. Exam topics include the areas of anatomy, anesthesia, digestive, laboratory, pathology, respiratory, and urinary.
The complete guide to becoming a medical secretary.
Medical secretaries provide administrative support for the medical office they’re employed with. To be a successful medical secretary, there are some key soft skills you need to have: integrity, compassion, attention to details, dependability, and willingness to be a team player.
What Medical Secretaries Do
As a medical secretary, you’ll be putting to use your extensive knowledge of medical terminology. You’re going to be scheduling appointments, billing patients, taking care of filling out the medical charts, and other duties assigned to you by your employer. Chances are, you’re going to be the first face a patient greets when they walk into the medical facility, making you the link between the patient and the medical staff treating them.
How to Become a Medical Secretary
To become a medical secretary, you first need your high school diploma or GED. There are quite a few medical facilities that will take someone fresh out of high school and train them for the job. But in those many cases where there isn’t extensive on-the-job training, you’ll need to get a formal education. There are some options available which are through trade schools or community colleges.
Find a medical secretary program.
In a medical secretary training program, you’ll learn business communications, medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, database and records management, office practices, and computer studies. All of these courses, combined with real life experience, will give you the know-how to step into the front office of a medical facility and take charge.
Medical secretary courses are also available online.
Payment Information for Medical Secretaries
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the average salary for medical secretaries in 2021 was $38,090, with the top 10 percent earning closer to $53,630.
Medical Social Worker
Read the full social worker career guide.
It can be overwhelming for patients or their families to weed their way through our healthcare systems. A medical social worker is brought into the mix to explain, in understandable terms, what needs to be done. Successful social workers are empathetic, patient, objective, organized, and perceptive.
What a Medical Social Worker Does
As a medical social worker, you’ll be working closely with patients and their families. You’ll be in a medical setting specializing in public health, geriatric, palliative, and inpatient for both medical or mental health care. Collaboration with a medical team for long term patient care plan is part of your day-to-day duties. You help patients and their caregivers understand the diagnosis, along with helping them make the necessary adjustments, from finding new housing through healthcare. Your patients will run the gamut of needs, from basic advice to end-of-life directions, so your duties will depend on the situation you are in.
How to Become a Medical Social Worker
The most common path toward a career in social work is through a bachelor’s degree. There are a few different options for majors if you’re interested in social work: social work, psychology, or sociology. Through your coursework, you’ll learn about diverse communities, social welfare, ethics, human behavior, as well as complete a required supervised internship, or fieldwork.
Find a medical social work program.
You do not need a bachelor’s degree in social work to get a master’s in the field. Any type of bachelor’s degree is welcomed, but the most beneficial ones would be along the lines of psychology, sociology, economics, and political science — you already will have the basic foundation set. However, if you have a degree outside of those listed, you can still choose to get your master’s in social work.
A bachelor’s degree should take four years if you attend school on a full time basis. Master’s degree programs can be completed in 2 years, but there are some programs that only take a year if you graduated with a bachelor’s degree in one of the social work fields. You will also have to complete 900 hours of supervised training within a medical setting.
Make sure that the school you’re attending has a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Accreditation is important if you want your course credits to be transferable, or if you want to get the appropriate certifications and licensing to work in your chosen field.
All 50 states require that social workers are licensed.
Pay and Employment Outlook
Due to the expanding population and the need to help aging people adjust to treatments, newer lifestyles, and medications, the demand for healthcare social workers is expected to increase 12 percent, which is faster than the national average (bls.gov). The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports that the average salary for healthcare social workers in 2021 was $62,310.
General Healthcare Degree Online
As the healthcare industry continues to grow, many colleges and universities are now offering healthcare programs online. Online degrees equip you with the skills needed to work directly with patients in service capacities or administrative areas.
From associate to doctoral degrees, and even certificates, online healthcare degrees are available at just about every educational level. Most of these programs are offered in hybrid format — combining online coursework with traditional classroom settings — and offer hands-on, real-world learning experiences. A popular path for medical billers and medical coders is taking online classes.
Since many healthcare professions are highly regulated, it is always important to keep accreditation in mind when research health care schools. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) is one of the largest accreditors for health programs, accrediting over 2000 education programs in 28 health science occupations.