Transferring Your Military Training to Civilian Jobs - Health Information Technology Professionals

By: U.S. News University Connection

Transferring Your Military Training to Civilian Jobs - Health Information Technology Professionals

For those looking ahead to a career beyond serving in the military, an industry to consider is the rapidly growing healthcare field. Quarter after quarter, year after year, the healthcare industry continues to add jobs and expand services.

Part of the reason is an older segment of the population that continues to grow in number, as well as the development of medication to help a larger assortment of ailments. There also is the simple mathematics of a growing population.

All this means more patients and, with all health care providers switching to electronic health records, the need for more health information technologists, one of the fastest growing professions within this fast-growing industry.

For those looking for a job after the military, it's a job worth considering.

The Skills and Education You Need for Healthcare Information Technology

Many of the skills that are needed to be successful in health information technology are skills that those in the military have developed during their service.

For example:

  • Integrity. Those who work in health information are trusted to keep sensitive records confidential.
  • Detailed oriented. Those who work with healthcare records must have the ability to pay attention to details.
  • Technical skills. An ability to work with computers and software programs is important for those who work with healthcare records.

There are certification programs and associate's degree programs available to get the education necessary to enter the health information technology field. Those who enter the profession will have an in-depth understanding of medical terminology, anatomy and physiology as well as knowledge of regulations for creating and maintaining healthcare records.

Where They Work and What They Do

Health information technologists work in a variety of medical service businesses, including clinics, laboratories, nursing homes and hospitals. There were more than 186,000 people working in the profession in 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

About 37% of those worked in hospitals, according to statistics from the BLS. The other top areas for employment were doctor's offices (22%), nursing and residential care facilities (9%) and the government (5%).

Whatever the location, health information technologists spend their workdays doing some of the following typical tasks:

  • Review patient records for accuracy and completeness
  • Maintain data that is shared via clinical databases and registries
  • Use software that assigns codes to patient files for reimbursement
  • Ensure confidentiality of all records while imputing information for patient records

Pay and Job Growth for Healthcare Information Technologists

The median pay for health information technicians was $34,160 in May 2012, according to a national survey of salaries by the BLS. The top 10% made more than $56,200.

The job outlook is very good. The BLS projects a 22% increase in the number of health information technologists between 2012 and 2022, which translates into more than 41,000 new jobs. Much of this has to do with an aging United States population that is expected to stay active – and live longer – than previous generations. Also, federal mandates on healthcare operations maintaining electronic records means more people in the profession will be demand.

Given these factors, a career in health information technology is worth considering for those leaving the military and looking for a stable career that they can get into relatively quickly.