The best IT certifications for a healthcare professional

The need for qualified individuals to manage sensitive data and the networks it is stored on is greater than ever

By Jackie Roberson

Healthcare IT is undoubtedly one of the fastest growing specializations in both the healthcare and IT fields. With the advent of electronic medical records, connected health devices, BYOD, and a host of other innovations, healthcare networks are among the most complex — and the most at-risk for breaches and malware. 

With so much at stake, the need for qualified individuals to manage this sensitive data and the networks it is stored on is greater than ever. Even so, the field remains competitive, and those who wish to land the best paying jobs need to prove their knowledge and experience in the field and their ability to adapt to the ever changing health IT landscape. One of the best ways to do this is by earning certifications. 

With so many certifications to choose from, it can be challenging to determine which are the best for a career in health informatics. Opinions and specific job requirements vary, but in general, the following certifications are the most sought after. 


The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification is one of the most sought-after IT security certifications, and is essentially a requirement for anyone who wants to advance within the field of information security. To earn this credential, you must have at least five years of work experience (four if you have a related degree) in one or more of the eight domains of the CISSP exam: Security and Risk Management, Asset Security, Security Engineering, Communications and Network Security, Identity and Access Management, Security Assessment and Testing, Security Operations, or Software Development Security. 

2. CompTIA A+ and CompTIA Healthcare

CompTIA A+ is one of the most popular entry-level IT certifications. With this certification, you demonstrate that you understand some of the most common hardware software and hardware technologies, and can support those technologies. 

CompTIA A+ is also the foundation certification for the CompTIA Healthcare IT Technician (that requirement is waived if you have at least 500 hours of hands-on experience in IT). The Healthcare IT Technician certification covers such subject areas as data flow in health IT, regulatory requirements, IT operations, medical business operations, and security. As certifications go, this particular credential is one of the less labor-intensive options, as it only requires passing a 75 question exam in 60 minutes, and can generally be prepared for using only online training resources. 


The Certified Information Systems Manager is often considered on par with the CISSP, and is the second highest paying IT certification. Information risk management as the foundation of information security is the focus of this credential, but it also touches upon the governance of information security, the development and management of information security programs, and incident management. The primary difference between the CISM and CISSP is that the CISM is more business oriented, and geared toward manager-level professionals responsible for the big picture of information security, whereas the CISSP has a more technical focus and covers a broader spectrum of topics. 

The CISM requires individuals to have at least five years of experience in information security, with at least three in the areas covered by the exam. 

4. PMP

Healthcare IT is often heavily project-based, and the increasing complexity of these projects makes the Project Management Professional an in-demand certification for health IT professionals.

The PMP credential is challenging to earn, but it can lead to a significant salary boost, and increased opportunities within the realm of health IT. To earn this certification, you need a four- year degree, 4,500 hours of experience leading and directing projects, and 35 hours of formal project management training, in addition to passing the exam. 

There are several other health IT-related certifications that are valuable to anyone who wishes to work in the field, including HealthCare Information Security and Privacy Practitioner (HCISPP) and the Certified Professional in Healthcare Information & Management Systems (CPHIMS). However, in terms of prerequisites and marketability, these certifications have not yet achieved the viability that more widely accepted certifications like CISSP or CISM have. 

Not to mention, the skills and knowledge demonstrated by one of these other certifications is transferrable across industries, meaning that when you invest the time and energy to earn one, you’re investing in a wider variety of career options overall. 

Jackie Roberson is a content coordinator with Seek Visibility.


July 8, 2016

Topic Area: Information Technology

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