Health IT jobs continue to be in demand and salaries remain extremely competitive. But the high pay doesn’t come to those without skill, training, and certifications. For those looking to enter the health IT field, project management is something worth looking into. In fact, for the third year in a row, they’ve reported the highest average salary at $113,188 — as well as the highest average bonus of $16,974, according to our 2016 Health IT Salary Survey.

What does it take to reach project management status in the health IT field? With the highest average salary, it’s no surprise there’s more to it than checklists and watching over employees’ shoulders. If you’re considering jumping into a career track in health IT project management, here’s what you need to know before getting started:

What the job entails

Health IT project managers take on a lot of responsibility. Their job is to oversee the implementation of new systems — many of which are EMR and EHR — and technology from the planning stages to the evaluation and all the steps in between.

A project manager isn’t paid well to simply see that a project reaches completion. Rather, their job is to produce quality results with maximum efficiency, on time and on budget.

Jumping into the healthcare industry today, you’ll find the largest IT project for many facilities is converting paper patient records to electronic databases. For a project manager, the work isn’t done once the systems are implemented. It’s an ongoing process of managing records and keeping the system updated.

Skills you need

Many people make the mistake of thinking IT employees only need technology skills. But project managers rely heavily on solid communication. Managing many projects and making sure everything is being completed correctly means being able to communicate well with team members, clients, and other stakeholders.

If a project manager is unorganized, there’s a high chance the entire team and project have been thrown off track. Leadership and communication skills only work when everything is organized and running smoothly. In an already high pressure environment, good organizational skills will help keep you calm through project processes.

Most of us can’t name a job where something unexpected never pops up. Project management is no different. Shifting focus from one crucial detail to another is a large stressor in this field. Actually, our 2016 Health IT Stress Report found constantly changing work priorities to be a top contributor to stress at work, with 39 percent saying it was one of their top three factors.

Health IT project manager certification requirements

Most of the official standards for project management are governed by the Project Management Institute (www.pmi.org). On this site you can find various certifications, one of which is The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification — one of the most popular and well-respected.

Once you’ve acquired an overall project management certification, like the Project Management Professional (PMP), you can branch out and get certified in specific areas of the field. For example, Professional Business Analyst (PBA) focuses on business analysis, Risk Management Professional (RMP) teaches risk management, and Scheduling Professional (SP) is for scheduling experts.

When it comes to salary — the more certifications, the better. Our salary data suggests holding health IT certifications does increase income. Respondents with four or more certifications are more likely to earn $100k+ and respondents with no certifications are more likely to earn less than $75k.  

Deciding on your next career move can be intimidating, but it’s important to remember your key skills, passions, and even personality traits. With the right certifications, communication, and organization skills — this may be the path for you.

What do you think it takes to work in health IT project management? Let us know in the comments below!

Do You Have What It Takes To Be In Healthcare Project Management? by