Health care administrative specialists perform many of the same tasks as other administrative assistants, such as taking messages, preparing reports and filing paperwork. But unlike other support staff, these medical secretaries -- as they’re often called -- also undertake many duties exclusive to the health care industry. They take medical histories, handle insurance information, assist in patient intake and transcribe medical dictation, which means knowledge of clinical terminology is essential to succeed in this role. In fact, many employers require it.
In 2012, half of all medical secretaries earned an average of $31,250 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For the top 10 percent, salaries often exceeded $45,880 annually. Those in the bottom 10 percent of earners didn’t fare as well, bringing home less than $21,890. But the average was closer to $32,670 a year.
Salaries by Position
Not all health care administrative specialists work strictly as medical secretaries. Instead, they take on various roles within a medical setting. A survey by Office Team, a national recruiter for administrative support, provides an idea of how the earnings shake out. As of 2013, those working as medical secretaries started out at $31,500 to $40,000 a year -- similar to the BLS figures. As executive assistants, who typically support C-level staff, medical secretaries earned $37,750 to $51,250 annually. When working as enrollment specialists, salaries started at $26,750 to $34,750 annually. Surgery schedulers brought home $29,750 to $34,750 to start, while credentialing specialists, who verify the credentials of providers and facility privileges of practitioners, earned $31,750 to $39,750 a year.
Besides specialty, earnings can vary by location. For example, medical secretaries in Alaska earned the highest salaries for this occupation, at an average of just over $40,000 a year in 2012, reports the BLS. Health care administrative specialists in Washington state ranked second, with an average of just over $39,000, while those in the District of Columbia fared almost as well, earning nearly $39,000 annually. The same, however, doesn't hold for medical secretaries in Arkansas, where the average was just over $27,000.
The BLS expects employment opportunities for health care administrative specialists to be excellent, with an average job growth rate of 41 percent through 2020. As far as job creation, this high percentage should work out to 210,200 new jobs over the decade. Expect additional openings to develop as medical secretaries retire or leave the field.
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