A career in health informatics can take many forms, with career titles like nurse informaticist and informatics director, to name a few. The job you find in health informatics can depend on your level of education. Entry-level health informatics positions may only require an associate degree, while the highest paying jobs might require you to complete a minimum of a master's degree.
Before jumping into a health informatics career, make sure to research the types of available jobs to find the one that best suits you. Next, you'll want to pursue a degree that satisfies at least the minimum required education for the position. The more health informatics education you have, the better you'll stand out when applying to a job.
Skills Gained in a Health Informatics Program
As a niche industry, health informatics requires many skills. When choosing a university and level of degree, ensure that communication, analytics, leadership, integrity, and technical skills are covered in the curriculum. Programs may explore these skills through a combination of certification, required courses, internships, or other real-world experiences. These abilities are used daily in a health informatics career, and you may be required to demonstrate these skills when applying to positions.
Most health informatics positions are highly technical, so applicants must understand and communicate technical terminology. This also means taking technical concepts and communicating them in non-technical terms with clients and patients, as well.
- Technical Skills
Technical skills, including coding or system management, are typically required for a health informatics career. Most positions use electronic health record systems, which students may not learn through college courses. Other technical skills include data analytics and healthcare technology.
Beyond data analytics, healthcare professionals need to learn to adapt to changes in laws and regulations. Students can explore how to navigate new laws as they come into effect and determine the best approaches moving forward. Analytical skills also include understanding diagnoses and medical records.
Most employers looking to fill positions with greater pay and higher education requirements expect leadership skills from applicants. Leadership skills take many forms, including finding ways to solve problems, motivating staff to perform tasks to their fullest, training new hires, and taking professional responsibility when necessary.
While health informatics professionals don't work as closely with patients as other healthcare professionals, they must hold themselves to the same professional standards. Students can explore how to maintain integrity with patient information.
Why Pursue a Career in Health Informatics?
Health informatics is a fascinating field that's experiencing rapid growth. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 13% job growth rate in medical records and health information technicians from 2016-2026, faster than the national average for job growth. There are other careers in the field with high projected growth rates, as well.
Health informatics combines traditional healthcare with digital information. It is a relatively new field, and with most careers utilizing emerging forms of technology, a health informatics career is bound to thrive for years to come. The profession also allows individuals to help patients without having to become a licensed medical practitioner.
Additionally, since health informatics is a relatively young field, new careers in health informatics are always emerging. Individuals that commit to long-term learning and continuing education could even end up creating their own positions in the field.
How Much Do Health Informatics Majors Make?
Despite its young age, health informatics is a broad field. While an associate degree is enough to begin a career in the field, individuals with a bachelor's or master's degree may have more options, often with much higher salaries. Other factors, such as location and experience, could also play a role in determining potential salaries. Here are a few sample careers and salaries, based on national averages.
How to Succeed in Health Informatics
A health informatics professional may have anywhere from an associate to a master's degree, and with more education comes more employment opportunities. With an associate degree in health informatics, students could become a health technician, medical assistant, or information clerk. With a bachelor's in health informatics, graduates could become medical records and health information technicians or computer systems analysts.
A master's in health informatics goes beyond other degrees by specializing students' education even further. Similarly, degree seekers can also consider health informatics graduate certificates. For students that want to become experts in their niche, a doctoral degree should also be considered.
The BLS suggests you probably won't need any professional experience to become a medical records and health information technician; however, you'll need at least five years of experience to become a computer and information systems manager. Of course, these are just two possible health informatics career outcomes. To earn the required experience, some careers may require internships or supervised experience. These offer real-world experiences that you won't find in a classroom setting.
Licensure and Certification
Since you won't be working directly with patients, most health informatics careers won't require licensure. In some advanced careers, licensure as a registered nurse may be required. Regardless, certifications can teach you new skills that can help develop and advance your career.
As a computer-based role, many health informatics professionals can benefit from earning certification in specific computer programs. Others in more technical roles should consider becoming certified tumor registrars. For those who want to become managers, leadership and management certificates offered by the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management can set you apart.
Concentrations Available to Health Informatics Majors
Studying a concentration is an ideal way to earn extra experience; however, there aren't many concentrations available to health informatics majors, and not every school offers these specializations. Students should also note that concentrations are more likely at higher levels of education, letting students further specialize in a niche. Read on for some of the concentrations that might be available to you.
- Management: Better for students interested in becoming leaders in the workplace, a management concentration emphasizes business and leadership courses and may require an internship. As the concentration suggests, this is best for students working toward management careers within health informatics.
- Administration: An administration concentration has students learn more about health information, data analysis, classification systems, and medical records. While other concentrations don't have clear outcomes, an administration concentration typically leads to licensure as a registered health information administrator. This license certifies individuals as experts in health administration.
- Analytics: A concentration in analytics can sometimes look like a blend of technology and administration concentrations. Students will spend courses analyzing data through computer programs, as well as learning how to analyze existing patient records. Career outcomes tend to be related to medical records and administration, although some technical roles also expect analytical skills.
What Can You Do With a Health Informatics Degree?
Potential careers in health informatics can go in very different directions. The minimum level of education required for the field, an associate degree, often leads to high-growth positions; however, earning a bachelor's or master's degree expands the number of possibilities while increasing your potential income.
For example, one potential career for a student with graduate-level education is as a pharmacy informatics coordinator. According to PayScale, a pharmacy informatics coordinator earns a median salary of $79,922 a year. While a master's degree isn't always required for this position, it's an easy way to ensure an applicant's qualifications.
Also, a career in health informatics doesn't always require a degree in health informatics. Some positions may also accept the equivalent level of education in IT or a related computer field. To become qualified for a health informatics position, these students often complete certificates to specialize their education in health.
Associate Degree in Health Informatics
- Medical Records or Health Informatics Technician
Also referred to as health information technicians, these skilled workers manage health databases to ensure they're up to date and accurate. These workers also maintain patients' medical records. Most positions require knowledge of medical data software.
- Information Clerk
More technical than medical, an information clerk ensures all information, including bills and medical claims, are in order. These workers must also understand services offered by medical institutions and communicate them to patients. Information clerks can also work outside the medical field.
- Medical Assistant
Medical assistants work less with computers and more with patients than other health informatics graduates. These assistants may record patient information, measure vitals, prepare samples, schedule appointments, and input patient information into databases. The specific duties of this position can vary from one institution to another.
Bachelor's Degree in Health Informatics
For lucrative positions with high projected growth, students should consider an online bachelor's degree in health informatics. These four-year programs can vary in courses and specializations offered, which can play a role in determining a student's potential career. Degree seekers that choose one of the top online bachelor's programs may learn more skills that immediately translate to higher-paying positions. Regardless of which program you choose, a bachelor's degree will require more computer science courses than an associate degree. Graduates with this degree also have much higher earning potential than those with an associate degree.
- Medical and Health Services Manager
Also known as healthcare executives, health services managers are in charge of planning and coordinating health services. The size and scope of this position can range from a specific practice to an entire facility. A bachelor's degree will prepare you for the leadership qualities required to succeed.
- Computer and Information Systems Managers
Also known as IT managers, this position includes installing new computer systems, keeping operating costs low, orchestrating IT, and finding new ways to improve existing computer systems. To obtain this position, students may want to specialize their degree with an emphasis or minor in computers.
Master's Degree in Health Informatics
Health informatics can be a lucrative field, especially if students choose to complete their master's degrees in health informatics. While a bachelor's degree will teach you basic skills needed for a position in health informatics, a master's degree lets you specialize your education, opening the doors to niche career options. Most health informatics master's degree students have a clear career goal in mind and choose the best online master's program for that specialization. Before you know which school you should attend, take time to learn about some of the different potential career outcomes.
- Clinical Informatics Specialist
This highly specialized position requires expertise in healthcare management and computer science. A clinical informatics specialist resolves software and hardware issues while planning facility-wide system changes.
- Pharmacy Informatics Coordinator
Pharmacy informatics coordinators must be informed on the latest standards and pharmaceutical laws regarding. These experts maintain pharmacy databases and may be required to implement or create software in the field.
- Clinical Nurse Leader
To become a clinical nurse leader, you'll need previous nursing experience and a master's in health informatics. This position involves leading nurses and completing tasks within a facility, so leadership skills are required. Clinical nurse leaders also communicate with nurses, patients, and patients' families, so candidates need strong communication skills.
- IT Consultant
Health informatics majors that choose to emphasize the technical parts of the position can easily be qualified to become IT consultants. This position requires plenty of computer science knowledge. Communication is also an important skill for this position, as you'll be advising clients on how to best set up their IT systems.
- Information Systems Manager
Information systems (IS) managers are in charge of IT departments and all its employees. IS managers oversee long-term strategies to make computer systems safer and more effective. While some IS managers find work in healthcare, this position can be found in any field that has large facilities.
Health Informatics Graduate Certificates
Sometimes, earning a degree isn't quite enough to be eligible for the position you want. To gain extra skills and set yourself apart, students should look into earning health informatics graduate certificates. Like a master's degree in health informatics, a bachelor's degree is required to study toward a certificate; however, certificates can typically be completed in just 8-12 months and at a fraction of the cost of a master's degree. So, the top health informatics graduate certificates can be quick, affordable ways to specialize your education and springboard your career.
Doctoral Degree in Health Informatics
Health informatics is an exciting field that can lead to many interesting positions. To reach the top positions possible, a combination of experience and a doctoral degree are required.
A doctoral degree may have steep prerequisites and could take a long time to earn, but the benefits speak for themselves. Careers that stem from a doctorate are among the highest paying positions. Typically, a doctoral degree demonstrates expertise and leadership skills that set you apart from a graduate with a master's degree. As a result, high leadership positions, including executive roles, are potential career options.
While there are a few clear careers that follow a doctoral degree in health informatics, many potential outcomes depend on specialization. Also, any previous work experience may have an impact on potential positions.
- Chief Medical Officer
Before you become a CMO, you'll need to possess previous experience as a medical doctor in addition to your doctoral health informatics degree. If you have that experience and education, you'll also need to demonstrate your leadership abilities. CMOs run the entire medical program within their organization, including overseeing budgets, making personnel changes, and changing work models.
- Professor of Health Informatics
With a doctoral degree, you'll be qualified to teach both bachelor's and master's degree students at the college level. The potential pay depends on any specific expertise you may have, especially if that skill is in high demand for schools. Professors can become tenured, and many enjoy long, successful careers.
- Senior Research Scientist
Your master's and doctoral degrees should demonstrate a mastery of analytics and communication as you will be required to train new scientists. This position also includes planning projects, implementing new technology, and conducting research.
Where Can You Work with a Health Informatics Degree?
Graduates with health informatics degrees may end up working in a healthcare-related field, but that isn't always the case. Most healthcare facilities use computer systems extensively, which means they need to hire workers with informatics experience. The industry, its location, the area's population, and a professional's specific role can have an impact on career sustainability. So, it's worth finding the right industry and location early on to suit your career goals.
Location can have a profound impact on a health informatics career. Some states may have better funding, which yields more jobs, and others may attract workers with higher average salaries. Also, as a healthcare role, some states may require health informatics graduates to become licensed.
States with decreases in population growth could make for fewer long-term options versus other states. There are plenty of factors you need to consider before choosing the state where you begin your career.
- General Medical and Surgical Hospitals
Medical and surgical hospitals provide general care, and some may also have some specialized practices, but these are sometimes grouped on their own.
Average Annual Salary: $122,460
- Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories
These laboratories offer analytical and diagnostic services, usually to medical professionals. Examples include dental, blood analysis, and pathological labs. A career here would be analytics-intensive.
Average Annual Salary: $121,390
- Offices of Physicians
There are plenty of roles to find in physicians offices, including those in analytics and management. These are smaller than hospitals and are more likely to be in a specialized field.
Average Annual Salary: $122,460
- Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing
A health informatics graduate in this industry will likely find a role working in computer systems, database management, or analytics. Pharmacy informatics coordinator is one potential role.
Average Annual Salary: $221,290
- Outpatient Care Centers
These centers showcase specialized medical practices to help patients. Similar to hospitals, health informatics graduates could work in any role here, like data entry or systems management.
Average Annual Salary: $105,590
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
How Do You Find a Job as a Health Informatics Graduate?
After earning a degree in health informatics, the next step is to begin your career. Some universities help connect students with local businesses and hospitals, and alumni networks can also yield promising opportunities.
Earning a certificate is an excellent way to demonstrate your skills, help yourself stand out, or help with applying for a specific field in health informatics. Specializations go a long way in helping you build out your resume. You should also take advantage of health informatics organizations that connect students with career opportunities. Some organizations for health informatics include
- American Health Information Management Association
- American Medical Informatics Association
- Health Information and Management Systems Society
Where you find a job will depend on your education, but according to the BLS, most graduates work in state, local, or private hospitals. Fortunately for grads, the BLS also projects higher-than-average job growth for the field of health informatics.
Professional Resources for Health Informatics Majors
The Health Career Web is a one-stop location for all health-related careers. Students can search specifically for health informatics jobs, or they can find niche positions. This site is ideal for anyone just beginning their health informatics career.
Many health informatics graduates have experience with computer science courses, and those skills are in demand. The AAPC is a community for those graduates and provides resources for continuing education, finding jobs, and networking with other computer-minded health professionals.
ASHIM provides IT certification that can help aspiring professionals stand out. Their certified health informatics systems professional certification preparation is worth considering for any IT-minded health informatics graduates.
Job seekers looking for management- or administrative-centric careers should explore what the AHDI has to offer. This professional organization has a comprehensive job board and connects graduates with professional certificates. They also have state and local chapters for in-person networking opportunities.
AHCAP, another great resource for networking, is ideal for graduates that chose to focus on the administrative side of health informatics. Members also receive access to a job bank, and anyone can take advantage of their webinars and continuing education courses.
BAHM's goal is to help connect current master's students with the resources they need for health management careers. Current master's in health informatics students can use BAHM to talk to current professionals and learn more about potential opportunities. They can also learn tips to focus their education toward specific jobs.
Nurses aiming to become informatics nurses or health informatics grads looking for more experience should explore the ANCC website. This credential center offers certification, education, and networking opportunities to aspiring professionals.