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How to Become a Health Unit Clerk

Duties, Responsibilities, Schooling, Requirements, Certifications, Job Outlook, and Salary

Female healthcare worker with a binder

Once you’ve earned your Medical Assistant diploma, you’ve opened the door to a number of additional healthcare job opportunities that can advance your career and increase job satisfaction. Perhaps one of the most important positions available to an MA is a health unit clerk. Sometimes referred to as hospital unit clerks or hospital ward clerks, health unit clerks play an essential role in making sure caregivers are always equipped with accurate and up-to-date medical records.

As you read this career guide, you’ll gain an in-depth knowledge of the skills required to become a health unit clerk, as well as the educational requirements, projected salaries, and job outlook for this important position.

If a career as a health unit clerk sounds appealing to you, please continue reading. If not, click here to see the rest of the careers featured on our list of top alternative jobs for medical assistants.

Health Unit Clerk Definition

What is a Health Unit Clerk?

Health unit clerks provide administrative and clerical support to physicians and nurses in an in-patient care unit while also providing several other patient services. The efficient operation of a clinical care unit has a significant impact on the quality of care these units provide, so strong administrative and communications skills are highly valued and sought after by employers.

Health Unit Clerk: Job Description

What Does a Health Unit Clerk Do?

The primary responsibility of a health unit clerk is to ensure that all medical records, laboratory reports, and patient records are filed, correctly stored, and easily accessible to physicians and nurses. Health unit clerks work closely with the medical and nursing staff to provide the safest, most efficient, and most optimized patient care possible. Other job responsibilities of the health unit clerk include transcription services, managing admissions, transfers, and discharges, distributing mail, and maintaining a safe work environment.

Health Unit Clerk Duties

Some of the day-to-day responsibilities of health unit clerks include:

  • Gathering, transcribing, and managing patient-care orders
  • Communicating effectively with physicians, nurses, patients, family members, and caregivers
  • Managing, handling, and transcribing medical records
  • Distributing mail
  • Maintaining strict protocols to ensure a safe work- and care space
  • Bookkeeping
  • Maintaining compliance with state and federal regulations
  • Preparing supplies for their unit

Where Do Health Unit Clerks Work?

Health unit clerk positions are widespread and can be found in office settings within healthcare facilities where medical professionals need administrative support. These locations include hospitals, surgical centers, and intensive care units. Additionally, some health unit clerk positions are virtual positions that enable you to work remotely out of your own home.

Healthcare workers touching hands as a sign of teamwork

Why is Health Unit Clerk a Great Alternative Career Path for Medical Assistants?

The process of becoming a Medical Assistant provides you with the skills and medical knowledge you need to work as a health unit clerk. The position puts you in daily contact with an interdisciplinary team of medical professionals who will value your training, knowledge, and overall understanding of the practice of medicine. Doctors and nurses place a great deal of trust in health unit clerks. They rely on clerks to ensure the levels of consistency and accuracy required for the efficient operation of the unit and the improved patient outcomes that result.

Health Unit Clerk Schooling & Certification

How Long Does It Take to Become a Health Unit Clerk?

What Degree Do You Need to Be a Health Unit Clerk?

For MAs to broaden their healthcare careers and become a health unit clerk, the switch is a relatively easy one to make. Typically, becoming a health unit clerk does not necessarily require prior job experience. However, many employers require a foundational knowledge of the medical field – a knowledge base you will have already gained while earning your MA diploma.

Employers will want you to have a high school diploma or equivalent, but additional education specifically geared for becoming a health unit clerk is not always mandatory for the position. There are also no certification credentials required for health unit clerks, though some employers do favor them when it comes down to choosing between job candidates. Should you choose certification, the National Association of Health Unit Coordinators (NAHUC) can provide it.

Health Unit Clerk Salary

How Much Do Health Unit Clerks Make?

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not report the specific salary* data for health unit clerks, but they do report the salary* data for general office clerk. According to the BLS, the average hourly wage for an office clerk is about $18, which works out to an average annual salary* of about $38,000. The income for successful office clerks in the 90th percentile of earners can climb to as high as $27 per hour with an annual salary* of $57,000 or more.

Highest Paying States for Health Unit Clerks

According to the BLS, office clerks earn the highest average wages in these states:

State Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
Washington, DC. $22.93 $47,690
Colorado $21.46 $44,630
Alaska $21.34 $44,380
North Dakota $20.93 $43,540
Washington $20.88 $43,440

Highest Paying Cities for Health Unit Clerks

According to the BLS, office clerks earn the highest average wages in these cities:

City Average Hourly Pay Average Salary
San Francisco, CA $23.83 $49,560
Napa, CA $22.87 $47,570
Boulder, CO $22.67 $47,160
Denver, CO $22.26 $46,310
Seattle, WA $21.98 $45,720
San Jose, CA $21.97 $45,690
Anchorage, AK $21.95 $45,670
Carson City, NV $21.45 $44,620
Vallejo, CA $21.37 $44,460
Santa Cruz, CA $21.27 $44,250

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Health Unit Clerk Job Outlook

What is the Job Outlook for Health Unit Clerks?

While the US Bureau of Labor Statistics does not publish job outlook data for health unit clerks, they provide employment projections for medical secretaries. This position features many of the same job responsibilities as health unit clerks. The BLS reports that the overall employment of medical secretaries will increase by 10% between 2019 and 2029.

Start Your Career by Earning Your Medical Assistant Diploma

For anyone who is highly organized, detail-oriented, and an excellent communicator, becoming a health unit clerk can be a great career path for you.

If you’re ready to take the next step towards becoming a health unit clerk, start by earning your Medical Assistant diploma in as little as 10 months at Eagle Gate College.

Click here to learn more about our Medical Assistant program.