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Medical Records Specialists

Summary

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Quick Facts: Medical Records Specialists
2021 Median Pay $46,660 per year
$22.43 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Postsecondary nondegree award
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2021 186,400
Job Outlook, 2021-31 7% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2021-31 12,300

What Medical Records Specialists Do

Medical records specialists compile, process, and maintain patient files.

Work Environment

Medical records specialists typically spend many hours at a computer. Most work full time.

How to Become a Medical Records Specialist

Medical records specialists typically need a postsecondary certificate to enter the occupation, although some qualify with a high school diploma. Others might need an associate’s or bachelor's degree. Certification may be required or preferred.

Pay

The median annual wage for medical records specialists was $46,660 in May 2021.

Job Outlook

Employment of medical records specialists is projected to grow 7 percent from 2021 to 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 14,900 openings for medical records specialists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for medical records specialists.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of medical records specialists with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about medical records specialists by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Medical Records Specialists Do About this section

Medical records and health information specialists
Medical records specialists validate and enter patients' health information into electronic health records systems.

Medical records specialists compile, process, and maintain patient files. They also may classify and enter patients’ medical information into the healthcare industry's numerical coding system.

Duties

Medical records specialists typically do the following:

  • Review patients’ records for timeliness, completeness, and accuracy
  • Use classification systems to assign clinical codes for patients’ diagnoses, procedures, medical services, and related information
  • Maintain and retrieve records for insurance reimbursement and data analysis
  • Electronically record data for collection, storage, analysis, retrieval, and reporting
  • Ensure confidentiality of patients’ records

Medical records specialists have a variety of data entry and recordkeeping tasks. They may gather patients’ medical histories, symptoms, test results, treatments, and other health information and enter the details into electronic health records (EHR) systems. Some workers categorize medical information for purposes such as insurance reimbursement and providing data to clinicians.

When handling medical records, these workers follow administrative, ethical, and legal requirements for safeguarding patient privacy. Medical records specialists also may serve as gatekeepers for access to patient files. They ensure access only to authorized people and retrieve, scan, and transmit files according to established protocols.   

Medical coders assign the diagnosis and procedure codes for patient care, population health statistics, and billing purposes. For example, they might review patient information for preexisting conditions, such as diabetes, to ensure proper coding of patient data. They also work as the liaison between healthcare providers and billing offices.

Although medical records specialists do not provide direct patient care, they work regularly with registered nurses and other healthcare workers. They meet with these workers to clarify diagnoses or to get additional information.

For information about other workers who deal with healthcare records, see the profile for health information technologists and medical registrars.

Work Environment About this section

Medical records and health information technicians
This is one of the few health-related occupations in which there is no direct hands-on patient care.

Medical records specialists held about 186,400 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of medical records specialists were as follows:

Hospitals; state, local, and private 29%
Offices of physicians 19
Professional, scientific, and technical services 9
Administrative and support services 7
Nursing and residential care facilities 5

Medical records specialists typically work at a computer.

Work Schedules

Most medical records specialists work full time. In healthcare facilities that are always open, such as hospitals, specialists may work shifts, including nights or weekends.

How to Become a Medical Records Specialist About this section

Medical records specialists
Employers may prefer to hire medical records specialists who have acquired certification.

Medical records specialists typically need a postsecondary certificate to enter the occupation, although some qualify with a high school diploma. Others might need an associate’s degree. Certification may be required or preferred.

Education

A high school diploma or equivalent and experience in a healthcare setting are enough to qualify for some positions, but others may require a postsecondary certificate or an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

High school students may benefit from taking classes in subjects such as biology, computer science, and anatomy.

Community colleges and technical schools offer certificate and associate’s degree programs for medical records specialists. These programs typically include courses in medical terminology, health data requirements and standards, and classification and coding systems.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Employers may prefer to hire medical records specialists who have certification, or they may expect applicants to earn certification shortly after being hired. For example, some medical records specialists earn the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) credential; certifications for medical coders include the Certified Billing & Coding Specialists (CBCS)Certified Coding Associate (CCA), Certified Coding Specialist (CCS), and Certified Professional Coder (CPC).

Certifications usually require candidates to pass an exam and might require previous experience or education. Certificate, associate’s, or bachelor’s degree programs may help students to meet these requirements.

Advancement

Medical records specialists may advance to become health information technologists or medical registrars or medical or health services managers after completing a higher certification program or earning a degree in health information technology. Requirements vary by facility.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Medical records specialists must interpret medical documentation to assess diagnoses, which they then code into a patient’s medical record.

Detail oriented. Medical records specialists must be precise about verifying and coding patient information.

Integrity. Medical records specialists must exercise discretion and act ethically when working with patient data to protect patient confidentiality, as required by law.

Interpersonal skills. Medical records specialists need to discuss patient information, discrepancies, and data requirements with physicians, finance personnel, and other workers involved in patient care and recordkeeping.

Pay About this section

Medical Records Specialists

Median annual wages, May 2021

Health technologists and technicians

$46,910

Medical records specialists

$46,660

Total, all occupations

$45,760

 

The median annual wage for medical records specialists was $46,660 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $29,430, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $74,200.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for medical records specialists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Professional, scientific, and technical services $47,000
Hospitals; state, local, and private 47,000
Administrative and support services 46,900
Nursing and residential care facilities 37,740
Offices of physicians 37,330

Most medical records specialists work full time. In healthcare facilities that are always open, such as hospitals, specialists may work shifts, including nights or weekends.

Job Outlook About this section

Medical Records Specialists

Percent change in employment, projected 2021-31

Health technologists and technicians

7%

Medical records specialists

7%

Total, all occupations

5%

 

Employment of medical records specialists is projected to grow 7 percent from 2021 to 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 14,900 openings for medical records specialists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

An increasing share of the population is entering older age groups, which typically require more medical services. As a result, more medical records specialists will be needed to convert related health information into standardized codes to be used for insurance reimbursement and other purposes.

Additional records, coupled with widespread use of electronic health records (EHRs) by healthcare providers, will support demand for specialists to code and maintain the associated information in all areas of the healthcare industry.

Employment projections data for medical records specialists, 2021-31
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2021 Projected Employment, 2031 Change, 2021-31 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Medical records specialists

29-2072 186,400 198,700 7 12,300 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of medical records specialists.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2021 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Health information technologists and medical registrars Health Information Technologists and Medical Registrars

Health information technologists and medical registrars advise organizations on computerized healthcare systems and analyze clinical data.

Associate's degree $55,560
Information clerks Information Clerks

Information clerks perform routine clerical duties, maintain records, collect data, and provide information to customers.

See How to Become One $37,450
Medical and health services managers Medical and Health Services Managers Medical and health services managers plan, direct, and coordinate the business activities of healthcare providers.

Bachelor's degree $101,340
Medical assistants Medical Assistants

Medical assistants complete administrative and clinical tasks in hospitals, offices of physicians, and other healthcare facilities.

Postsecondary nondegree award $37,190
Medical transcriptionists Medical Transcriptionists

Medical transcriptionists use electronic devices to convert voice recordings from physicians and other healthcare workers into formal reports.

Postsecondary nondegree award $30,100
Pharmacy technicians Pharmacy Technicians

Pharmacy technicians help pharmacists dispense prescription medication to customers or health professionals.

High school diploma or equivalent $36,740

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about medical records specialists, including details about certification, visit

American Health Information Management Association

American Academy of Professional Coders

National Healthcareer Association

For a list of accredited training programs at the associate's degree level and above, visit

Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education

CareerOneStop

For a career video on medical records and health information technicians, visit

Medical Records Specialists

O*NET

Medical Records Specialists

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Medical Records Specialists,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-records-and-health-information-technicians.htm (visited November 16, 2022).

Last Modified Date: Thursday, October 27, 2022

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2021 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2021, the median annual wage for all workers was $45,760.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2021

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2021, which is the base year of the 2021-31 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2021-31

The projected percent change in employment from 2021 to 2031. The average growth rate for all occupations is 5 percent.

Employment Change, 2021-31

The projected numeric change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2021-31

The projected numeric change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2021 to 2031.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2021 to 2031.

2021 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2021, the median annual wage for all workers was $45,760.