The demand for healthcare services, combined with the increasing prevalence of digital recordkeeping, makes health informatics a lucrative, stable career choice: The Bureau of Labor Statistics even projects 18% growth in healthcare by 2026. Earning a graduate certificate in health informatics takes you a step beyond your bachelor's degree. Programs require 3-6 courses that can be completed in as little as six months. The curriculum offers education in advanced healthcare information technology and data analysis.
The certificate also serves as a stepping stone to a master's degree. Many master's programs accept the courses as transfer credit, reducing the length of time to earn a master's degree. Earning a health informatics certificate leads to a higher salary and employment in information systems, security, and management.
How to Choose the Right Graduate Certificate in Health Informatics Program
The curriculum of a graduate certificate in health informatics generally covers data analytics, electronic health records, and information system design and management. Program structure varies. Some programs require only core coursework, while others offer core courses and electives. The number of credits required to graduate also varies among programs. Generally, students can earn their health informatics certificate in 8-12 months. Students typically complete one course at a time, but you may be able to take multiple simultaneously to earn your certificate in less than 12 months.
Many factors, including the number of required credits, location, and format, impact the certificate's cost. An online health informatic graduate certificate offers cost savings, as several programs offer resident tuition to out-of-state students. Attending an on-campus program offers networking opportunities with peers, faculty, and potential employers. If you are already working in the health informatics field, your employer may offer tuition reimbursement.
Many students relocate for their education. If you wish to relocate, research the cost of living and employment opportunities in your desired area. Cities with large hospitals or an aging population may have a higher demand for health informatics professionals. A program that offers a master's degree in addition to the graduate certificate is a good choice if you wish to continue your education.
Employment and Salary Outlook for Graduate Certificate Holders
As technology advances and demand for service increases, technology specialists remain in particularly high demand. Information systems and database management, consulting, and administration offer excellent job prospects. Median salaries vary depending upon specific occupation, location, and experience, but you can expect entry-level earnings around $60,000. The table below shows the median salary of four common occupations for health informatics graduate certificate holders, based on years of experience.
|Information Systems Managers||$62,000||$78,000||$89,000||$99,000|
|Computer Network Architects||$85,000||$107,000||$122,000||$127,000|
|Healthcare Database Administrators||$60,000||$78,000||$91,000||$88,000|
|Information Security Analysts||$63,000||$82,000||$89,000||$91,000|
|Network and Computer Systems Administrators||$50,000||$58,000||$64,000||$69,000|
With a graduate certificate in health informatics, you may work in information security, systems administration, or network design. Professionals generally work full time, non-traditional schedules and may be on call for troubleshooting. You must often spend long hours working alone in front of a computer, but managers may interact more with staff and meet with other departments. Individuals must possess advanced analytical and technical skills and the ability to communicate complex information. Those who wish to implement advancements in the field may pursue consulting opportunities.
- Information Systems Managers
IT managers plan and maintain computer systems. They analyze the organization's technological needs, assess costs and benefits, and make recommendations. They often oversee IT staff and communicate with top executives.
- Computer Network Architects
These professionals plan, design, and build the data communication systems for an organization to include local area networks, wide area networks, and intranets. Architects must understand business practices and security needs to determine system needs and develop infrastructure. Sometimes called network engineers, they analyze data and upgrade systems as needed.
- Healthcare Database Administrators
These individuals oversee the maintenance and security of sensitive patient information. They store and organize data, making sure the information is backed up and meets all security protocols. They may assist with insurance billing or medical records. Some administrators design and test databases.
- Information Security Analysts
Information security analysts oversee the security of an organization's computer systems, helping guard against cyberattacks and disasters. Security analysts monitor information systems and investigate security breaches. They must stay current on security threats and methods that hackers use to breach systems and regularly conduct simulated cyberattacks.
- Network and Computer Systems Administrators
These professionals manage the daily functioning of network and computer systems. They may work with servers, individual desktops, or mobile equipment. Administrators often provide technical support for troubleshooting of email, network connections, and other workstation problems. They also install software and make upgrades and repairs.
Accreditation for Graduate Certificate in Health Informatics Programs
Schools earn one of two types of accreditation: regional or national. Regional accreditation is more highly regarded and is typically granted to public or private universities that are academically focused. National accreditation is typically granted to schools that focus on trade skills. Programs also receive separate accreditation by field-specific agencies. Programmatic accreditation is a voluntary process and ensures that the program meets strict quality standards. The Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management (CAHIIM) remains the main accrediting agency for health informatics programs. CAHIIM routinely reviews accredited programs to ensure they maintain accreditation standards. They also update standards to match advancements in the field. Students who want to pursue certification must attend an accredited program. Attending an accredited school also assures employers that you have earned a respected education and are prepared for your career.
Graduate Certificate in Health Informatics Program Admissions
Admissions for on-campus programs tend to be straightforward, but they can be more competitive than online admissions. Admission requirements may include an application, transcripts, exam scores, and recommendation letters. Most schools accept application materials through an online portal. Students should pay close attention to requirements, as schools will not accept incomplete applications. Aim to apply to a minimum of three schools. When choosing schools, find accredited institutions that offer a curriculum relevant to your interest. If you want to pursue an advanced degree after earning your health informatics certificate, apply to schools that offer a master's degree, which will allow your credits to transfer easily.
- Bachelor's Degree: Graduate certificate program admissions require a bachelor's degree. Health informatics is an interdisciplinary field, so most programs accept a degree in computer science, health, or other information or life science field. The degree must originate from a regionally accredited institution.
- Application: Most applications include a form for personal information and require an essay and professional recommendations. The entire application package includes exam scores and transcripts. You can reduce the amount of time it takes to complete the application by gathering your materials early and preparing your personal information and educational background.
- Exam Scores: Most graduate certificate in health informatics programs do not require exam scores, making them ideal for individuals who do not want to take the GRE or GMAT. Students whose native language is not English must submit TOEFL scores.
- Transcripts: Certificate programs require transcripts. Schools require certified transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate programs, and typically require a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants upload their transcripts in the online application, so you must request them from previous schools before applying.
- Application Fee: Application fees typically range from $35-$65. Some schools waive the fee for early admission, while others waive fees before the admission deadline. Financial aid does not cover application fees.
What Else Can I Expect From a Health Informatics Graduate Certificate Program?
Core Courses in a Health Informatics Graduate Certificate Program
Health informatics graduate certificate courses vary depending on your chosen program. Some schools require a set of courses, while others offer electives in addition to core coursework. Research the curriculum of many programs before deciding which schools to apply to. You can review a sample curriculum of core courses below.
- Healthcare Data Analysis
Students develop skills in data analysis and reporting methods. Coursework teaches students to use data to improve services, control costs, and measure public health outcomes. Students gain experience using various data analysis tools to run programs and create reports. The course emphasizes managerial concerns and ethical issues.
- Electronic Health Records
Electronic Health Records (EHR) remain a critical component of modern healthcare. Students learn the role of EHR in the automation of healthcare and how EHR integrates with patient care and clinical decision-making. Students practice the various functions of EHR. Coursework emphasizes security requirements, the use of complex data, and system integration.
- Advanced Health Informatics
This course focuses on information technology in healthcare. Students learn about the information needs of hospitals and the systems used to manage data. They examine how to design and build healthcare information systems, management needs, and security measures. Coursework often includes a project that allows students to research and design a healthcare information system.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Graduate Certificate in Health Informatics?
Earning a graduate certificate in health informatics typically takes 8-12 months. The number of credits required varies from 12-18. Health informatics certificate programs generally require at least two core courses and two electives. Students generally take one course per semester. Not every course is offered each semester, so this may impact program length. Some programs offer an accelerated health informatics certificate, which can be completed in half of the time by taking double credits. Graduate certificates do not accept transfer credits. However, the credits you earn can often be transferred to a master's degree.
How Much is a Graduate Certificate in Health Informatics?
Education in health informatics remains in high demand with varying tuition costs. A graduate certificate in health informatics ranges between $6,000-$12,000. Prices vary based on many factors, including the number of credits required, whether you attend a public or private university, and whether you attend an in-state school.
Some schools charge additional fees for the health informatics certificate program, which may include technology fees. Students should consider other expenses, such as registration fees and graduation costs. Tuition also does not include the cost of books and other materials. Students may need to purchase a computer or specialized software. Since most graduate certificate students live off campus and work while taking classes, you may need to consider transportation and housing costs.
You could consider the cost of a graduate certificate in health informatics to be an investment in a master's degree, since the courses are transferable to a master's program. Generally, you can expect to pay around $8,000 for the certificate.
Professional Organizations in Health Informatics
Professional organizations furnish access to many resources for students in health informatics certificate programs, including career services and mentorship programs. Members can often access job boards that list private opportunities. Professional organizations offer networking opportunities, events and annual conferences, and continuing education programs. Organizations require dues and may issue membership guidelines.
As the premier health informatics organization, AHIMA offers training, respected certifications, and information regarding the national coding system. The association provides a career center and access to leading-edge topics in health information.
AMIA provides program accreditation and professional credentials. Members gain access to continuing education, peer-reviewed journals, an online community, and a mentorship program. The organization also hosts several conferences and events.
As a global organization boasting 70,000 members, HIMSS offers several membership levels. Benefits include participation in special groups or a local chapter, online resources, and discounted conference tickets.