Medical Records Specialists

Career, Salary and Education Information

What They Do: Medical records specialists compile, process, and maintain patient files.

Work Environment: Medical records specialists typically spend many hours at a computer. Most work full time.

How to Become One: Medical records specialists typically need a postsecondary certificate to enter the occupation, although some qualify with a high school diploma. Others might need an associate’s or bachelor's degree. Certification may be required or preferred.

Salary: The median annual wage for medical records specialists is $46,660.

Job Outlook: Overall employment of medical records specialists is projected to grow 7 percent over the next ten years, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of medical records specialists with similar occupations.

Following is everything you need to know about a career as a medical records specialist with lots of details. As a first step, take a look at some of the following jobs, which are real jobs with real employers. You will be able to see the very real job career requirements for employers who are actively hiring. The link will open in a new tab so that you can come back to this page to continue reading about the career:

Top 3 Medical Records Technician Jobs

  • Medical Records Technician-Release of Information - Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration - Oklahoma City, OK

    Functional Statement #: 000000/ Medical Record Technician ROI Financial Disclosure Report: Not required Requirements Conditions of Employment You must be a U.S. Citizen to apply for this job

  • Medical Records Technician - Klamath Tribal Health & Family S - Chiloquin, OR

    Medical Records Technician Step Range: $34,912 - $61,218 Regular - Full -Time Full Benefits The Medical Records Technician will be responsible for coordinating and maintaining the Image Control ...

  • Medical Records Technician IV (2nd Shift) - The University of Chicago Medical Center - Chicago, IL

    In this role, under minimal direction, the Medical Records Technician IV assists the physicians and medical center in the record completion processes to ensure compliance with licensing, regulatory ...

See all Medical Records Technician jobs

What Medical Records Specialists Do[About this section] [To Top]

Medical records specialists compile, process, and maintain patient files. They also may classify and enter patients’ medical information into the healthcare industry's numerical coding system.

Duties of Medical Records Specialists

Medical records specialists typically do the following:

  • Review patients' records for timeliness, completeness, and accuracy
  • Use classification systems to assign clinical codes for patients' diagnoses, procedures, medical services, and related information
  • Maintain and retrieve records for insurance reimbursement and data analysis
  • Electronically record data for collection, storage, analysis, retrieval, and reporting
  • Ensure confidentiality of patients' records

Medical records specialists have a variety of data entry and recordkeeping tasks. They may gather patients' medical histories, symptoms, test results, treatments, and other health information and enter the details into electronic health records (EHR) systems. Some workers categorize medical information for purposes such as insurance reimbursement and providing data to clinicians.

When handling medical records, these workers follow administrative, ethical, and legal requirements for safeguarding patient privacy. Medical records specialists also may serve as gatekeepers for access to patient files. They ensure access only to authorized people and retrieve, scan, and transmit files according to established protocols.

Medical coders assign the diagnosis and procedure codes for patient care, population health statistics, and billing purposes. For example, they might review patient information for preexisting conditions, such as diabetes, to ensure proper coding of patient data. They also work as the liaison between healthcare providers and billing offices.

Although medical records specialists do not provide direct patient care, they work regularly with registered nurses and other healthcare workers. They meet with these workers to clarify diagnoses or to get additional information.

For information about other workers who deal with healthcare records, see the profile for health information technologists and medical registrars.

Work Environment for Medical Records Specialists[About this section] [To Top]

Medical records specialists hold about 186,400 jobs. The largest employers of medical records specialists are as follows:

Hospitals; state, local, and private 29%
Offices of physicians 19%
Professional, scientific, and technical services 9%
Administrative and support services 7%
Nursing and residential care facilities 5%

Medical records specialists typically work at a computer.

Medical Records Specialist Work Schedules

Most medical records specialists work full time. In healthcare facilities that are always open, such as hospitals, specialists may work shifts, including nights or weekends.

How to Become a Medical Records or Health Information Specialist[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Medical Records Specialists near you!

Medical records specialists typically need a postsecondary certificate to enter the occupation, although some qualify with a high school diploma. Others might need an associate's degree. Certification may be required or preferred.

Education for Medical Records Specialists

A high school diploma or equivalent and experience in a healthcare setting are enough to qualify for some positions, but others may require a postsecondary certificate or an associate's or bachelor's degree.

High school students may benefit from taking classes in subjects such as biology, computer science, and anatomy.

Community colleges and technical schools offer certificate and associate's degree programs for medical records specialists. These programs typically include courses in medical terminology, health data requirements and standards, and classification and coding systems.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations for Medical Records Specialists

Employers may prefer to hire medical records specialists who have certification, or they may expect applicants to earn certification shortly after being hired. For example, some medical records specialists earn the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) credential; certifications for medical coders include the Certified Coding Associate (CCA), Certified Coding Specialist (CCS), and Certified Professional Coder (CPC).

Certifications usually require candidates to pass an exam and might require previous experience or education. Certificate, associate’s, or bachelor’s degree programs may help students to meet these requirements.

Advancement for Medical Records Specialists

Medical records specialists may advance to become health information technologists or medical registrars or medical or health services managers after completing a higher certification program or earning a degree in health information technology. Requirements vary by facility.

Important Qualities for Medical Records Specialists

Analytical skills. Medical records specialists must interpret medical documentation to assess diagnoses, which they then code into a patient's medical records.

Detail oriented. Medical records specialists must be precise about verifying and coding patient information.

Integrity. Medical records specialists must exercise discretion and act ethically when working with patient data to protect patient confidentiality, as required by law.

Interpersonal skills. Medical records specialists need to discuss patient information, discrepancies, and data requirements with physicians, finance personnel, and other workers involved in patient care and recordkeeping.

Medical Records Specialist Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for medical records specialists is $46,660. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $29,430, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $74,200.

The median annual wages for medical records specialists in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Hospitals; state, local, and private $47,000
Professional, scientific, and technical services $47,000
Administrative and support services $46,900
Nursing and residential care facilities $37,740
Offices of physicians $37,330

Most medical records specialists work full time. In healthcare facilities that are always open, such as hospitals, specialists may work shifts, including nights or weekends.

Job Outlook for Medical Records Specialists[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of medical records specialists is projected to grow 7 percent over the next ten years, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 14,900 openings for medical records specialists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment of Medical Records Specialists

An increasing share of the population is entering older age groups, which typically require more medical services. As a result, more medical records specialists will be needed to convert related health information into standardized codes to be used for insurance reimbursement and other purposes.

Additional records, coupled with widespread use of electronic health records (EHRs) by healthcare providers, will support demand for specialists to code and maintain the associated information in all areas of the healthcare industry.

Employment projections data for Medical Records Specialists, 2021-31
Occupational Title Employment, 2021 Projected Employment, 2031 Change, 2021-31
Percent Numeric
Medical records specialists 186,400 198,700 7 12,300


A portion of the information on this page is used by permission of the U.S. Department of Labor.


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