Health informatics is a technical discipline comprised of computer science, information science, and health care. It involves the collection, storage, use, and management of health information using various methods, tools, and technologies. To enter this exciting field, most health informatics professionals earn a vocational certificate to prepare for the theoretical and technical challenges associated with this career. The certificate is an excellent starting point for those who simply want to dabble in the field as well as those who want to work their way up to a master’s degree in health informatics.

Types of Health Informatics Certificates

Health Information Technology Certificate

The health information technology certificate provides comprehensive instruction and training to students with little or no background knowledge in informatics. At this level, students will explore the role of information technology in health care, while familiarizing themselves with the formal medical terminologies, clinical guidelines, communication systems, and health informatics tools used in this industry. Upon graduation, students will possess the basic knowledge and skills needed to do an entry-level health informatics job. To enroll in this vocational certificate program, all applicants need to have the following:

  • High school diploma or its equivalent
  • Desired score on the SAT, ACT, and/or entrance exam
  • Minimum required GPA

Like most postsecondary certificates, the health information technology program can take anywhere from six months to one year to complete. Although course requirements vary from school to school, most students in this program will study public health informatics, clinical data and electronic health records, medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, telemedicine, classification and coding systems, and more. Online students can access their courses, lectures, assignments, and grades through a learning management systems provided by the school. This is also a helpful tool for corresponding with instructors and classmates to ask questions and share information.

Public Health Informatics Certificate

The public health informatics certificate is designed for current and future public health professionals who want to learn the theories and methods of health informatics and health information technology as it relates to public health. With this specialized instruction and training, graduates will be able to articulate and perform advanced management, policy, and research functions for various organizations. Those who want to learn about health informatics within the public health domain will benefit greatly from the postsecondary certificate program. To begin your certificate education, all applicants must have the following requirements:

  • High school diploma or its equivalent
  • Desired score on the SAT, ACT, and/or entrance exam
  • Minimum required GPA

The online certificate in health informatics typically takes anywhere from six months to one year to complete, depending on your course load and pace. Those who are enrolled in the program can expect to take classes in public health and biomedical informatics, population health informatics, and HIT standards and systems. Many programs also require students to complete a capstone course or practicum during their final semester to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. This course helps students evaluate their progress, make adjustments, and prepare for the challenges of the working world.

Health Care Informatics Certificate

The health care informatics certificate is an introductory program designed for prospective health information technicians, health application designers, and other health care professions. While enrolled in a health care informatics program, students learn about consumer health informatics applications, organizational issues affecting the industry, and how to be a strong leader within your organization. The quickest and most affordable way to complete your health informatics education is to earn a certificate in this subject. To enroll in the health care informatics certificate program, applicants must meet the educational requirements below:

  • High school diploma or its equivalent
  • Desired score on the SAT, ACT, and/or entrance exam
  • Minimum required GPA

The health care informatics certificate can take anywhere from six months to one year to complete. Some common course requirements include: systems life cycle, data management and design, and concepts of health care informatics. Online students can access their classes, lectures, assignments, and other resources on a learning management system, like Blackboard or Moodle. This site is provided by your school or instructor, and it serves as an excellent communication tool for distance learners.

What’s Next for Certificate Holders?

Graduates of the online certificate program in health informatics are qualified to work in a variety of technical and health-related occupations. Many of these certificate holders become medical records and health information technicians who work in hospitals, physician offices, nursing care facilities, and home health care industries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of medical records and health information technicians is expected to grow 21% by 2020 because of the aging population and an increase in health services. Those who have a certification in health information will have the best job prospects. In addition to having excellent job prospects, medical records and health information technicians also have favorable salaries. According to the BLS, these professionals made an average annual salary of $36,770 in 2012.

Although it is certainly possible to work in health informatics with only a vocational certificate, some employers and job positions require additional education and training. In this case, many certificate holders return to school to pursue a higher degree, such as the associate degree in health informatics or the bachelor’s degree in health informatics. Both undergraduate degrees provide comprehensive training and instruction in the field of health informatics, and allow students to specialize in areas that interest them and cater to their professional goals.