RHIA or RHIT: Which one is best?

rhia and rhit

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Are you at a crossroads in your healthcare IT career, contemplating the RHIA or RHIT certification by AHIMA? The choice you make today could very well define your future in the healthcare IT industry. It is not just a decision; it is an investment in your career and your passion for all things healthcare-related. 

If you’re confused about which path to walk on, no need to worry! In this, we’ll cut to the chase and answer the pressing question: RHIA or RHIT: Which one is best for you?” No fluff, no jargon, just the facts and insights you need to make the right decision for your professional journey. 

So, if you’re ready to explore the benefits, differences, and potential outcomes of both of these certifications, let’s get started.

Understanding The Certifications

Before we get down to the comparisons, it is first to understand both the certifications, what they are as well as their eligibility criteria and other important details.

The Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) Certification

RHIA, or Registered Health Information Administrator, stands as a beacon of excellence in the realm of healthcare IT. It is not just a certification; it is a testament to your expertise and dedication in managing patient health information and medical records. But what does obtaining a RHIA certification entail?

What Is It?

RHIA certification signifies that you’re a qualified professional capable of handling sensitive health data with precision and confidentiality. It is a credential that showcases your mastery in health information management, ensuring the seamless flow of information within healthcare organizations.

Eligibility Criteria:

In order to pursue the RHIA certification, candidates typically require a bachelor’s degree from a recognized institution. The coursework should cover key areas such as health data management, information systems, legal aspects of health information, and leadership skills. However, AHIMA does provide alternatives in the event that you don’t have a relevant bachelor’s degree. 

Instead, you can either: 

  • Successfully complete the Master’s-level academic requirements of an HIM program accredited by the CAHIIM; or
  • Successfully complete the academic requirements of an HIM Certificate of the Degree (Post-Baccalaureate) program approved by the CAHIIM; or
  • Graduate from an HIM program approved by a foreign association with which AHIMA has a reciprocity agreement

Potential Career Growth

The RHIA certification is often associated with higher-level positions in health information management. Professionals with RHIA credentials are well-positioned for roles like Health Information Manager, Compliance Officer, or Director of Health Information Services.RHIT: RHIT certification is an excellent choice for those who want to specialize in coding, data analysis, and health record maintenance. It can lead to roles like Medical Coder, Health Data Analyst, or Health Information Technician.

Read more: 13 Best Medical Coding Certifications

Benefits and Career Opportunities

Earning an RHIA certification opens doors to a myriad of career opportunities. RHIA professionals are sought after for their expertise in managing electronic health records, ensuring data privacy and security, and streamlining healthcare operations. Hospitals, clinics, insurance companies, and government agencies actively seek RHIA

The Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) Certification

The Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) certification is another promising gateway to a fulfilling career in healthcare IT. To make an informed decision about RHIA vs. RHIT, it’s crucial to understand the intricacies of RHIT certification.

What Is It?

The RHIT Certification signifies your competence in managing healthcare data, coding, and maintaining health records. It is a credential that showcases your ability to handle the technical aspects of health information management, ensuring data accuracy and accessibility. 

Eligibility Criteria

To pursue RHIT certification, candidates often need an associate’s degree from an accredited institution. The coursework accredited institution. The coursework typically covers medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, coding systems, and health data management. Candidates may also need to complete a supervised practical experience, similar to an internship, to gain hands-on skills

Benefits and Career Opportunities

Earning an RHIT certification opens doors to a diverse range of career opportunities. RHIT professionals are valued for their expertise in coding, data analysis, and maintaining health records. They play a critical role in ensuring that healthcare data is accurate, complete, and secure. Hospitals, clinics, insurance companies, and government agencies frequently seek RHIT-certified individuals, making it a valuable credential in the healthcare IT job market.

RHIA vs RHIT: A Detailed Comparison

In order to help you make an informed decision, It is essential to have all the data available so you can compare the two and make a decision that suits you and your needs the best. We’ve taken the responsibility to help you evaluate both options so you ultimately choose the certifications that best align with your interest. 

Exam Structures

The exam structures for both of these exams are actually the same. Especially with the recent changes in the RHIA exam, both RHIT and RHIA now have the same exam structure: 

Exam Format 

Multiple choice, multiple responses, scenario-based 

No. Of Questions

150 (130 scored + 20 pretest items)

Passing Score 

300 (out of 400) 

Exam Duration 

3.5 hours 

Download RHIT Certification Exam Content 

Industry And Job Settings

RHIA 

RHIT

RHIA-certified individuals are in demand in various healthcare settings, including hospitals, clinics, insurance companies, and government agencies. They excel in roles that require comprehensive health information management.  

RHIT professionals are sought after for their technical expertise in healthcare data management. They commonly find employment in hospitals, coding companies, and healthcare consulting firms. 

Cost

The cost for both these certifications varies depending on if you’re a member of AHIMA. Members of course enjoy lower prices for certification costs while non-members are expected to pay more. 

 

RHIA

RHIT

Non-Members

$299

$299

Members 

$229

$229

Exam Domains

Here are the main exam domains for each certification that will be tested in the exam, along with their respective weightage. 

RHIA

RHIT

  • Data and Information Governance (17-20%)
  • Compliance with Access, Use, and Disclosure of Health Information (15-18%)
  • Data Analytics and Informatics (23-26%)
  • Revenue Cycle Management (20-23%)
  • Management and Leadership (23-26%)
  • Data Content, Structure, and Information Governance (19-25%)
  • Access, Disclosure, Privacy, and Security (14-18%)
  • Data Analytics and Use (12-18%)
  • Revenue Cycle Management (19-25%)
  • Compliance (13-17%)
  • Leadership (9-12%)

Click here: to download RHIA Certification Exam Content Outline 

Career Growth Prospects

RHIA

RHIT

RHIA-certified professionals have diverse career growth opportunities. They can transition into leadership positions, health informatics, data analytics, and consulting roles. Their comprehensive education allows for greater flexibility.

RHIT professionals often experience career growth within specialized areas of health information management, such as coding and data analysis. Opportunities for advancement may involve becoming coding supervisors or health data coordinators.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between RHIA and RHIT

Making the choice between RHIA and RHIT certifications is a pivotal decision in your journey to a healthcare IT career. To ensure you make the right choice, consider the following factors in greater detail: 

Career Goals And Interests 

Your career goals play a fundamental role in your decision. The RHIA certification is tailored for individuals who envision themselves in management and leadership roles within healthcare organizations. Therefore, if you’re drawn to strategic decision-making, compliance management, and the big picture,  the RHIA certification may actually be the right choice for you. 

On the other hand, if you have a passion for diving into the technical aspects of healthcare IT, such as coding, data analysis, and health record maintenance, RHIT might actually be your ideal path. 

Level Of Education

Both the certifications actually have prerequisites and so it is essential to make sure that you meet the eligibility requirements for these certifications. 

However, RHIA certification typically requires a bachelor’s degree, while RHIT necessitates an associate’s degree. Consider your current educational background. Are you prepared to invest the time and effort in obtaining a bachelor’s degree, or do you have an associate’s degree already? This factor can significantly influence your choice.

Job Market Demand 

Research the job market conditions in your desired area or region. This is because the job availability might vary depending on your location. Before making your decision, ensure that your choice aligns with the current job market opportunities in your area of interest. 

Career Growth Opportunities

Evaluate the career growth opportunities associated with each certification. 

RHIA certification often paves the way for higher-level positions such as Health Information Manager, Compliance Officer, or Director of Health Information Services. 

In contrast, RHIT certification may lead to specialized technical roles, like Medical Coder, Health Data Analyst, or Health Information Technician. Reflect on where you see yourself in the healthcare IT hierarchy and which role resonates with your ambitions. 

Personal Preferences 

Ultimately, your personal preferences should be the guiding force in your decision. Consider what aspects of healthcare IT you find to be the most fulfilling.  Do you think you will thrive in leadership roles, where you are responsible for overseeing the management of patient data? If so, RHIA might actually be the right choice for you. 

However, if you revel in the details of data analysis, coding, and day-to-day maintenance of health records, you might actually be better suited to pursuing the RHIT certification. 

Remember, your personal preferences will be crucial to your success and satisfaction in the health IT space. 

Read more: Benefits of getting IT Certifications in 2024

Salary Potential

The earning capabilities and prospects linked to each certification are quite an important consideration. Hence, let’s take a better look at the salary prospects you can achieve with these two certifications in hand.

RHIA Certified Professionals: Earning Prospects

Here are the potential salary figures RHIA certified professionals can land varying in different locations within the US. The following data has been taken from ZipRecruiter

Location

Average Annual Salary 

Santa Cruz, CA

$70,949

Sunnyvale, CA

$69,082

Livermore, CA

$68,263

San Buenaventura, CA

$68,255

Barnstable Town, MA

$67,374

Kent, WA

$66,554

Vacaville, CA

$66,419

Manhattan, NY

$65,212

RHIT Certified Professionals: Earning Prospects

Similarly here are the potential salary packages RHIT certified professionals can achieve, differing based on location within the US. The following data has been taken from ZipRecruiter as well:

Location 

Average Annual Salary 

Santa Cruz, CA

$70,949

Lake Marcel-Stillwater, WA

$70,527

Sunnyvale, CA

$69,082

Livermore, CA

$68,263

West Pasco, WA

$67,735

Barnstable Town, MA

$67,374

Kent, WA

$66,554

Vacaville, CA

$66,419

To Conclude

In the world of healthcare IT, the choice between RHIA and RHIT certifications is a critical decision. RHIA emphasizes comprehensive health information management, while RHIT specializes in coding and technical aspects. To make the right choice, consider your personal career goals, educational background, specializations, industry demands, and the need for continuous learning. 

Remember, your decision is about shaping your role in healthcare’s digital evolution. Whichever path you choose, both RHIA and RHIT certifications open doors to a rewarding career in the dynamic world of healthcare information management. Your expertise and dedication are vital to the future of healthcare. Best of luck in your journey!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

While both certifications are offered by AHIMA and are aimed at healthcare IT professionals, RHIA offers is best if you’re looking for a more managerial role whereas RHIA is ideal if you’re looking to work in a research-centric, technical role.

The annual salary for a RHIA professional is $52,650 per year in the United States.

The RHIA certification not only acts as a great add-on to your resume but can actually open doors to new career opportunities and act as a supporting argument for negotiating a better salary package. Hence, for healthcare professionals, the RHIA certification is a great tool to help advance your IT career in the medical sector. 

The annual salary for RHIT professionals is $51,536 per year in the United States. 

The RHIT is definitely worth it if you’re looking to work in a more technical position in the healthcare IT space that is more focused on research and analysis. In addition, the RHIT validates your relevant skills in the field and act as a segue to better and more lucrative career opportunities. 

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