Do You Need to be Certified in Health Informatics?

6 min read
Do you need to be certified in health informatics

One of the most common questions from those interested in the field of health informatics is, “Do I need a health informatics certification?” The answer varies depending on where you want to work and in what capacity. However, in general, because the field of health informatics is so new, many employers are still trying to determine what skill set to screen for and as a result, look for certifications as a third-party endorsement of a candidate’s knowledge and abilities. In addition to validating a candidate’s skills, a certification can help experienced informaticians stand out from the competition.

Yet, when it comes to earning a certification in health informatics there are a number of options to choose from.

Health Informatics Certificate vs. Health Informatics Certification

First, let’s quickly go over the difference between a certificate and certification.

The Institute for Credentialing Excellence, an organization focused on providing education, networking, and other resources related to credentialing, describes the distinction between these two terms as follows:

  • A certification program is designed to test the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to perform a particular job, and, upon successfully passing a certification exam, to represent a declaration of a particular individual’s professional competence. In some professions, certification is a requirement for employment or practice.
  • In contrast to certification and licensure, an assessment-based certificate program is an educational or training program that is used to teach learning objectives and assess whether those objectives were achieved by the student.

The Institute also provides a chart that offers a more detailed breakdown and a short video titled “Certificate vs. Certification: What’s the Difference?

Health Informatics Certification Options

Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS)

HIMSS offers two certification paths. Their first certification, CAHIMS, is for those interested in entering the informatics field but lack experience and training.

Certified Associate in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CAHIMS)

Designed for emerging professionals who may or may not have experience within the industry. CAHIMS is designed to be a pathway for careers in health IT.

certificate renewalRenewal: Must be renewed every 3 years
exam formatExam Format: 2-hour test with 115 multiple choice questions
eligabilityEligibility: Must hold a high school diploma or its equivalent.
Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS)

The second HIMSS certification, CPHIMS, is for experienced practitioners and is a professional certification program for experienced healthcare information and management systems professionals.

certificate renewalRenewal: Must be renewed every 3 years
exam formatExam Format: 2hour test with 115 multiple choice questions
eligibilityEligibility: Must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and:
  • Have five years of information and management systems* experience, with three of those years in a healthcare setting.


  • Hold a graduate degree or higher from an accredited college or university and have three years of information and management systems experience, with two of those years in a healthcare setting. 

American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)

As the name implies, the ANCC certification is the perfect choice for current practicing nurses interested in the informatics field. As opposed to HIMMS certifications, ANCC tailors their program specifically for RNs.

Registered Nurse Board Certified (RN-BC)
renewalRenewal: Must be renewed every 5 years
exam formatExam Format: Computer based test consists of 175 questions
eligabilityEligibility: To be eligible for the ANCC informatics certification, you must hold a current active RN license; hold a bachelor’s or higher degree in nursing or  a relevant field; have practiced the equivalent of 2 years full-time as a registered nurse; have completed 30 hours of continuing education in informatics nursing within the last 3 years and meet one of the following practice hour requirements:
  • Have practiced a minimum of 2,000 hours in informatics nursing within the last 3 years.
  • Have practiced a minimum of 1,000 hours in informatics nursing in the last 3 years and completed a minimum of 12 semester hours of academic credit in informatics courses that are part of a graduate-level informatics nursing program.
  • Have completed a graduate program in informatics nursing containing a minimum of 200 hours of faculty-supervised practicum in informatics nursing.

American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)

The AHIMA Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) certification was designed for those interested in managing patient health information, analyzing data and administering computer information systems. As AHIMA notes, RHIAs are “a critical link between care providers, payers, and patients.” They also offer an entry-level certification, RHIT, for those looking for a career as a health information technician. Professionals seeking these certifications are generally focused more on health information management (ensuring the quality of medical records, coding diagnoses and procedures in patient records for reimbursement, etc.). A CAHIIM-approved master’s degree in health information management is required to sit for the RHIA exam.

Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA)
renewalRenewal: Must be renewed every 2 years
exam formatExam Format: 4 hour, 180 multiple-choice questions
eligabilityEligibility: Successfully complete the academic requirements, at the baccalaureate level, of an HIM program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM).

Successfully complete the academic requirements, at the master’s level, of an HIM program accredited by CAHIIM and following a specific set of criteria.


  • Master’s level candidates must use the Master’s Program Exam Application below


  • Graduate from an HIM program approved by a foreign association with which AHIMA has a reciprocity agreement.

American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA)

The AMIA is also working towards the launch of a new certification intended for advanced informatics practitioners who have significant education and experience in the field. According to AMIA, this new certification dubbed the Advanced Health Informatics Certification (AHIC) will “join the Medical Subspecialty of Clinical Informatics as the standard-bearer for the highest and most rigorous level of evaluation for health informatics professionals.”

Advanced Health Informatics Certification (AHIC)
renewalRenewal: TBD
exam formatExam Format: TBD
eligabilityEligibility: Must actively practice health informatics with an operational focus on information and knowledge problems that directly impacts the practice of health care, public health, and personal health; and have earned:


  • A master’s degree or higher in a primary health profession and a master’s degree or higher in health informatics


  • A doctoral degree in a field characterized as having its primary focus in clinical or health informatics;

and have:

  • 18 months of health informatics experience over a 3-year period that has been completed within the past 5 years in either the United States or Canada

If you are interested in beginning or advancing a career in health informatics, earning your certification will help enhance your resume and demonstrate that you are qualified for a position with top employers in the field. HIMSS recommends getting certified to demonstrate that you meet a standard of professional body of knowledge, have reached a milestone in your professional development, distinguish yourself in an increasingly competitive marketplace, and expand your career opportunities.

Exploring Your Future in Health Informatics?

Download free Career Guide: “A Career in Health Care Informatics: How Big Data & Technology Are Creating New Opportunities to Work in Health Care”