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How to Become a Health Unit Clerk

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

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Once you’ve earned your Medical Assistant diploma, you’ve opened the door to several additional healthcare job opportunities that can advance your career and increase job satisfaction. One such position is  Health Unit Clerk, sometimes referred to as a “Hospital Unit Clerk” or “Hospital Ward Clerk.” Health Unit Clerks ensure 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. You can also click here to read about other career options 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 providing several other patient services. Because the efficient operation of a clinical care unit significantly impacts the quality of care these units offer, solid 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 medical and nursing staff to provide safe, efficient, and optimized patient care.

Other Health Unit Clerk responsibilities include providing transcription services, distributing mail, maintaining a safe work environment, and managing admissions, transfers, and discharges.

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
  • Maintaining strict protocols to ensure a safe work and patient care space
  • Maintaining compliance with state and federal regulations
  • Preparing unit supplies and distributing mail
  • Bookkeeping

Where Do Health Unit Clerks Work?

Health Unit Clerk positions work 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 and enable you to work remotely from home.

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

Becoming a Medical Assistant (MA) can also prepare you with the skills and medical knowledge needed to work as a Health Unit Clerk. The position puts you in daily contact with an interdisciplinary team of medical professionals who value training, knowledge, and the overall understanding of medical practices. Doctors and nurses place great trust in Health Unit Clerks, as they rely on clerks to ensure consistent levels of consistency and accuracy required for the efficient operation of the unit and improved patient outcomes.

Health Unit Clerk Schooling & Certification

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

The switch is relatively easy for MAs to broaden their healthcare careers and become Health Unit Clerks. Employers usually require a high school diploma or equivalent, but additional education to become a Health Unit Clerk is not always mandatory.

ZipRecruiter notes that most employers prefer applicants with previous clerical experience in the healthcare industry. You will have an advantage here – having already gained clerical knowledge and skills while earning your MA diploma.

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

No certification credentials are required for Health Unit Clerks, though some employers favor Health Unit Clerk certifications when choosing between job candidates. The National Association of Health Unit Coordinators (NAHUC) can provide it if you decide to pursue Health Unit Clerk certification.

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 clerks. According to the BLS, the average hourly wage for an office clerk is about $19.00, which works out to an average annual salary* of about $39,000. The income for successful office clerks in the 90th percentile of earners can climb to over $28 per hour with an annual salary* of more than $58,000.

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. $23.25 $48,360
Colorado $22.54 $46,870
Washington $21.64 $45,000
Massachusetts $21.51 $44,740
North Dakota $21.18 $44,060

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 $24.03 $49,980
San Jose, CA $23.92 $49,740
Denver, CO $23.49 $48,850
Boulder, CO $23.23 $48,310
Seattle, WA $22.87 $47,570
Washington D.C. $22.17 $46,120
Boston, MA $22.16 $46,100
Carson City, NV $22.03 $45,810
Napa, CA $21.95 $45,660
Bismarck, ND $21.87 $45,480

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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 decline by 8% between 2021 and 2031. However, about 354,000 openings for secretaries and administrative assistants are projected each year.

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.

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.