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Health Information Technician Professional Certification

Health information technology is not a licensed profession, but it is a certified one. This means credentials are managed by nongovernmental organizations. Since health information technology professionals don’t work directly with patients or clients, the government doesn’t regulate the profession. However, there are a lot of skills involved in doing the job correctly and reliably, and individual employers have high standards. They look for employees who have met certification standards.

A 2005 survey by AHIMA found that 73% of health care employers favored credentialing for medical coders and 67% did for other HIM professionals. 68% reported that they chose credentialed candidates over non-credentialed ones (other factors being equal), and 53% reported giving them preference when it came to promotions. 94% believed that certification must be kept current -- that it wasn’t enough to pass an exam and be done with it.

In order to get certified by AHIMA as an RHIT or RHIA, you need to graduate from an institution that has been accredited by CAHIIM. If you graduated from an associate level program, you can take the RHIT (Registered Health Information Technician) exam. If you graduated from a bachelor’s level program, you can take the RHIA (Registered Health Information Administrator) exam.

There are additional certifications that you may pursue. These indicate advanced competencies in specialized areas. Some require additional classes or specify a minimum amount of experience; others require only that you can pass the exam. One option is cancer registrar. There are two routes to certification as a cancer registrar -- a year of full time work in the specialty or completion of additional coursework.

After a bit of experience out in the field, you can be certified through AHIMA as a Certified Health Data Analyst. Some candidates also choose to pursue certification as a medical coder. Although coding is included in health information technology programs, the coding certification indicates a high level of proficiency; some coding certification tests are difficult for a new graduate to pass.