How to Become a Medical Records Clerk
Medical Records Clerk Careers & Degrees

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A Medical Records Clerk handles all paperwork regarding patient information making sure to follow legal standards implemented by state or federal law.

Medical Records Clerks can find employment in several types of health facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes or private clinics.

They are responsible for making sure all paperwork is handled correctly in order to keep things running smoothly.

Those who want to become a Medical Records Clerk need to have several skills in order to maintain all patient information at a health facility.

Candidates should have superior organizational skills, customer service experience and be able to maintain confidential information regarding patients.

One important aspect of this job is the ability to safeguard patient information according to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

By law, a patient’s sensitive information regarding diagnosis, medical past, social security number and contact information is protected by HIPAA.

This type of information may only be used for medical purposes and a health entity not using patient information according to this act will be held liable for improper use.

Individuals interested in working in the medical field may be interested in the following careers:

  • Medical Lab Technician
  • Health Technician
  • Clinical Laboratory Technician
  • MRI Technician
  • Dental Technician
  • Dialysis Technician

All these jobs entail working with patients or patient information.

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Education Requirements to Become a Medical Records Clerk

Individuals who want to become a Medical Records Clerk should have a combination of customer service skills, educational background and certification in order to secure a position in this field.

The minimum educational requirement in order to become a Medical Records Clerk is an Associate’s Degree in Medical Coding.

Some medical facilities train individuals with high school diplomas, but that is not always the case.

Candidates should have thorough knowledge on medical terminology and can fulfill this requirement by attending a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information (CAHIIM).

Visit their website at CAHIIM for a list of accredited programs at the Associate’s, Bachelor’s and Master’s levels.

After completing a program, individuals still interested in the medical field as a Medical Records Clerk should take and pass a certification exam in order to be a highly qualified candidate.

The American Health Information Management Association provides certification as Registered Health Information Technician or Registered Health Information Administrator which are both useful in finding a job as a Medical Records Clerk.

Medical Records Clerk Job Description

A Medical Records Clerk is responsible for documenting, maintaining, evaluating and entering patient information into a computer system.

Patient data that is used includes personal information, vital statistics, patient health and any treatments they have undergone.

A patient who has set up an appointment to see a doctor will have that information recorded and kept private for possible use in the future or to be entered into a computer database.

Records can be used for insurance purposes or to compare a patient’s current health status to a previous one.

Assembling patient records is another aspect of the job and a Medical Records Clerk will assure that all information regarding a patient is complete.

A Medical Records Clerk may have patients fill out important paperwork that needs to be kept on file as well as assuring that their medical history and chart is complete and ready to be entered into the computer.

The type of medical information that a Medical Records Clerk may handle and document includes:

  • Medical history
  • Laboratory results
  • Symptoms a patient has
  • Examination results for blood or urine
  • X-Ray results
  • MRI results
  • Diagnoses

Medical Records Clerks may have to discuss patient information with other medical staff to determine whether additional information is needed or to explain a particular diagnosis or symptom.

Medical Records Clerks need to make sure all patient information is current and recorded correctly.

Medical Records Clerk Salary and Career Path

The job outlook for the medical industry as a whole is expected to be outstanding for all positions including for Medical Records Clerks.

The national median wage for related positions such as health information technicians is approximately $30,600 per year.

The salary range for these professionals is approximately $20,000 to $50,000 annually.

The below information is based on the 2019 BLS national averages.
  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary

$46,590
$27K
$33K
$46K
$56K
$71K
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%

Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Alabama$39,370
Alaska$58,000
Arizona$46,550
Arkansas$39,440
California$52,580
Colorado$49,100
Connecticut$53,080
Delaware$48,300
District of Columbia$59,450
Florida$42,350
Georgia$43,230
Hawaii$54,920
Idaho$42,350
Illinois$48,100
Indiana$46,890
Iowa$43,030
Kansas$43,280
Kentucky$42,580
Louisiana$38,220
Maine$44,050
Maryland$50,050
Massachusetts$54,370
Michigan$44,690
Minnesota$53,420
Mississippi$36,410
Missouri$43,900
Montana$41,900
Nebraska$43,340
Nevada$45,600
New Hampshire$45,080
New Jersey$53,280
New Mexico$44,260
New York$52,540
North Carolina$40,810
North Dakota$49,910
Ohio$45,330
Oklahoma$40,580
Oregon$51,590
Pennsylvania$43,390
Rhode Island$52,860
South Carolina$42,030
South Dakota$43,480
Tennessee$48,070
Texas$43,760
Utah$43,770
Vermont$46,030
Virginia$46,460
Washington$53,890
West Virginia$41,230
Wisconsin$44,380
Wyoming$45,260
Guam$31,630
Puerto Rico$24,880
Virgin Islands$50,990

The top earning state in the field is District of Columbia, where the average salary is $59,450.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

District of Columbia - $59,450
Alaska - $58,000
Hawaii - $54,920
Massachusetts - $54,370
Washington - $53,890
* Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Medical Dosimetrists, Medical Records Specialists, and Health Technologists and Technicians, OCC Code 29-2098, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

QuestionWhat does a medical records clerk do?

As a medical records clerk or health information clerk, you are in charge of patients’ health files in a hospital, health care clinic, nursing care facilities, or physician office.

Your job is to store patients’ medical information, fill medical records, handle patients’ admissions and discharge paperwork, assume secretarial responsibilities like answering the phone, replying to emails and supplying different departments with appropriate documents and forms.

As a specialized clerk, you must master medical terminology, know hospital procedures, make sure all the information is kept confidential, and be an interface between doctors and insurance companies.

Because your job involves interacting with patients, you need strong interpersonal and communication skills, patience, accuracy, and compassion.

As a medical records clerk, you’ll need to have in-depth knowledge of the laws regarding patient-doctor confidentiality.

Depending on the place of employment, you may be asked to access and manage a vast database of medical records so proficiency in information management and office programs is necessary.

QuestionHow much does a medical records clerk make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for medical records and health information technicians was $40,350 in May 2018.

Salaries in this field vary based on a wide range of factors and, as a medical records clerk, you can earn anywhere between less than $30,000 and more than $65,000 a year.

QuestionHow much does it cost to become a medical records clerk?

You can become a medical records clerk with just a high school diploma, but most employers prefer to hire someone with an associate degree in data systems or, medical billing and coding, physiology, health care reimbursement, or a related field.

There are also certification and credentialing programs in health care information that are exam-based like the one organized by The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).

You can get a certificate in medical technology (MT) which takes three to six months to obtain, or a 2-year associate degree in medical technology or health information management (HIM).

A certificate in medical technology will cost you, on average, less than $10,000 a year but exact costs can vary depending on the school you choose.

Certificates in medical billing and coding can cost anywhere between less than $5,000 and $20,000.

QuestionWhat is the demand for medical records clerk?

According to BLS, the employment of medical records and health information technicians is projected to grow 11 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations.

An aging population, new medical treatments, new advances in medical technology will mean that more people will undergo a medical procedure so the need for technicians to process and manage medical information is expected to increase in the following years.

QuestionHow long does it take to become a medical records clerk?

You can become a medical records clerk in a few months or a few years after graduating from high school; it all depends on the educational path you choose to follow.

Training programs for health information technicians can last between a couple of months and two years.

The exact duration depends on the type of program you choose.

To be eligible for enrollment at post-secondary programs you need a high school diploma or GED equivalent.

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