The world is in the midst of a data revolution whose defining characteristics, according to Oxford Policy Management, are “the three Vs”: volume, velocity and variety of data. Though not without its challenges, the data revolution is overwhelmingly a force for progress, facilitating world-changing advances in nearly every aspect of modern life.
That’s certainly true in health care, where big data can reveal opportunities to enhance health care, improve health care outcomes and reduce costs. Those opportunities don’t just jump off the computer screen, however. They call for trained and highly skilled professionals to identify, organize, analyze and interpret the reams of available data pouring in from electronic health records, billing records and remote monitoring devices. They require health informatics professionals.
Health care data analytics, in its many manifestations, is driving success across health care settings and practices. It enables informaticists to predict future health trends, spot errors and inefficiencies that impact patient outcomes, and identify procedures that increase costs without improving outcomes. These accomplishments, alongside an aging population’s growing demands for more and better health care, are creating career opportunities for health care professionals who have the right informatics skill set.
A Master of Science in Health Informatics teaches the knowledge and skills necessary to advance in this flourishing profession. Health informatics offers careers for professionals at all degree levels, but most leadership, executive and policymaking roles require the type of background an MS in Health Informatics provides. Fortunately, you can earn this degree remotely—University of Pittsburgh’s Online MSHI, for one, can be completed 100% online—allowing you to forgo the hassles of relocating and commuting to and from campus. You can even complete it on a part-time basis so you can keep working and earning while you learn.
Informaticists are in demand everywhere. Still, some markets are stronger than others. Which ones? This article explores the geography of the health informatics profession, revealing the locations in which health care data experts are in demand and well compensated.
About the Data Sources
Health care professionals generally agree that health informatics can be a satisfyingly remunerative profession. Nailing down precise salary figures is a bit more complicated, however.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)—the gold standard for labor market and income data in the United States—does not track health informatics as a discrete employment category. It maintains several groupings into which health care informatics professionals, who provide a broad range of services, can fall: medical and health services managers; health information technologists and medical registrars; medical records specialists; data scientists; and computer systems analysts. None of these categories is a perfect fit. The first three capture many lower-level professionals who typically earn significantly less than health informaticists with a master’s degree. The final two include many professionals outside the healthcare profession. Teasing out useful data from these datasets requires the insight and precision of, well, a health informaticist.
There is another, more precisely focused source: The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) U.S. Salary Survey Report: HIM Professionals in 2019. Unfortunately, AHIMA has not published more recent research; its data was four years old at the time of this writing. In this article, we have adjusted the data to account for inflation. The results may not be completely accurate, but they should be reasonably close, and certainly more accurate than 2019 data.
The internet’s many job posting websites, including Glassdoor, ZipRecruiter, Payroll and PayScale, constitute a third possible data source. Small sample sizes and unconfirmed self-reported data produce widely varying results among these sites. Those same phenomena can cause each site’s reported data for a profession to fluctuate significantly from month to month. We cite these websites only when no better data source is available.
States With High Volume of Master’s in Health Informatics Jobs
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that states with the highest volume of MSHI jobs are, unsurprisingly, those with the largest populations. They include:
- New York
The list of states with the highest concentration of health-informatics-related job offers is less predictable. States with the greatest number of jobs per 100,000 jobs in the labor market include:
- North Carolina
- South Dakota
Which states offer health informatics professionals the highest pay? AHIMA reports salaries by region rather than by state. The results, prorated to 2023 dollars, indicate the highest average salaries across all positions and experience levels are found in these areas:
- The West Coast (Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington): $103,400
- New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont): $99,600.
- New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania: $98,000.
- The Mid-Atlantic and Southern Atlantic Coast (Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia): $92,200.
- Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas: $92,100.
The BLS sets the job growth rate for all five categories that correspond to health informatics at or above the growth rate for the overall job market. Growth rates for the categories that best correspond to master’s in health informatics jobs are significantly above the overall rate of job market expansion.
Cities With the Highest Salaries for Health Informatics Roles
Predictably, the top-paying cities for health informatics professionals all rank among the nation’s most expensive. According to ZipRecruiter, the six best-paying cities are all within 50 miles of San Francisco (as is the ninth-best-paying). The top ten, with average salaries as of July 2023, are:
- San Francisco, CA: $124,400.
- Fremont, CA: $120,100.
- San Jose, CA: $129,900.
- Oakland, CA: $118,300.
- Inverness, CA: $117,000.
- Antioch, CA: $115,800.
- Lebanon, NH: $115,000.
- New York, NY: $114,700.
- Hayward, CA: $114,600.
- Seattle, WA: $114,400.
Other Factors That Impact Health Informatics Salaries
The 2019 AHIMA study disaggregates health informatics salaries by job family. Lower-paying professions tend to be those that typically require only an undergraduate degree. They include coding and billing ($78,300 per year in 2023 dollars) and records administration ($96,000) jobs.
Jobs that are more likely to require a master’s degree tend to pay more. They include clinical document improvement (CDI) ($99,500), compliance and risk management ($105,300), data analytics ($98,500), and IT and infrastructure ($115,800).
Training and experience factor heavily in determining salaries. AHIMA did not calculate salaries by degree level, but it did track average salary by various health informatics certifications. Top average salaries went to professionals with the following certifications:
- Certified in Health Privacy and Security (CHPS): $118,600.
- Certified Documentation Improvement Practitioner (CDIP): $110,600.
- Certified Health Data Analyst (CHDA): $108,700.
- Registered Health Information Technician (RHIA): $108,000.
Multiple credentials can boost salaries further. AHIMA data indicate that health informatics professionals with four or more certifications earn, on average, $134,500 per year. Those with three credentials draw an average salary of $106,000, while those with two credentials make $97,500.
Average health informatics salaries also vary by industry. Top-paying employment sectors include:
- Life sciences: $125,000.
- Association or professional society: $118,300.
- Laboratory or research: $112,100.
- Consulting firm: $104,800.
- Health insurance: $99,000.
- Educational institution: $93,200.
- Government: $92,800.
- Hospital: $91,800.
And, of course, titles—and the responsibilities that come with them—count. Top-paying job titles include:
- Vice president: $148,000.
- Director: $118,700.
- Senior executive management: $114,600.
- Manager or supervisor: $94,000.
Why You Should Consider Earning Your MSHI Online
No matter where you choose to work, an MSHI degree typically results in a strong return on investment. Whether you’re a recent college graduate, a health informatics professional looking to augment your skill set, or a career switcher looking to enter a promising field, the Online Master of Science in Health Informatics from the University of Pittsburgh can deliver a valuable credential in 16 to 24 months (depending on whether you decide to study fulltime or parttime).
Pitt’s Online MS in Health Informatics is a flexible program in which you choose the path that best fits your current needs and career goals. The curriculum offers opportunities to specialize in four areas: data science, general health informatics, health care supervision and management, and health services analytics. You can also earn certification in health data analytics, health information cybersecurity, revenue cycle management, and leadership in health informatics.
Like so many other industries, medicine is taking advantage of the data revolution to improve all aspects of its operations, from prevention to treatment to cost containment. Prepare yourself for the resulting opportunities with an Online MSHI from the University of Pittsburgh. Contact us now to ask about admissions requirements, financial aid or potential career outcomes.