Pharmacy Technician vs. Medical Records Coding: Which Career is Right for You?

Boxing gloves with pharmacy and records icons

                                                                                                                                                                              So you’ve been thinking about a career in the growing healthcare industry. You’ve heard that certain fields are booming and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Perhaps you want to get in the game as quickly as possible and are looking for a way to complete your education in two years or less.

In an effort to answer your burning questions, we profiled two career paths that are growing fast and dominating the job postings: pharmacy technician and medical records coding. The best part about both of these careers is that you can be qualified to do both in two years.

If you are deciding between these two in-demand careers, here’s what you need to know.

Pharm tech vs. medical coding: education and certification required

There is no national requirement for pharmacy technician certification but many employers lean toward candidates that studied in formal programs. The Certified Coding Associate (CCA) through AHIMA for medical records requires completion of an accredited diploma or six months of experience.

Bottom line: A certificate or diploma will be enough to get you started in either field. You can set yourself apart from the competition by completing an industry-recognized certificate for a pharmacy technician or complete an accredited medical coding program that will prepare you for the CCA exam.

Pharm tech vs. medical coding: Job duties and location

Pharmacy technicians have some face-time. They take customer orders but also work behind the scenes to manage the distribution of medication and collate information about each patient.Medical records coding and billing experts work more behind the scenes. They work primarily with the processing of records as opposed to spending time interacting with patients.

Bottom line:When making a choice between these two careers, think about the amount of time you want to spend interacting with people. A career as a pharmacy technician may be better for you if you like to be out front interacting with your community. On the other hand, if you prefer less interaction with people and like to focus more on computer software and solving logistical problems you may be better off pursuing a career in medical records coding.

Pharm tech vs. medical coding: Skills needed

Pharmacy technicians:
  • Prescription filling
  • Scheduling
  • Mathematics
  • Patient care
  • Packaging
Medical records coding and billing:
  • Medical coding
  • Health information technology
  • ICD-9-CM coding
  • Medical records
  • Health information

Bottom line: Job postings for pharmacy technicians indicate more soft skills focused on patients such as scheduling and patient care. Medical records job skills weigh heavier on the specific industry knowledge needed for medical coding and health information.

Pharm tech vs. medical coding: Median salary and career outlook

Pharmacy technicians make an average of $29,320 and the industry is expected to grow by more than 29 percent through 2020.Medical records coding and billing experts make an average salary of $34,160 with industry growth projected as high as 28 percent through 2020.

Bottom line: Both careers are expected to have above-average growth for the foreseeable future. Your decision between the two careers can be based on the best fit for you with regard to education, location and skills.

Pharm tech vs medical coding: Making your decision

Now that you have all the information in front of you, take a look at which career is the best fit for your individual skills, personality and lifestyle. If you see yourself working hands-on with customers go the route of pharmacy technician; but if you want to stay behind the scenes, medical billing and coding could be your calling.


*Source: (analysis of 31,375 pharmacy technician job openings and 67,440 medical records and health information technician job openings, Sept.1, 2012 to Aug. 31, 2013)

About the author

Katy Katz

Katy is a Content Marketing Specialist at Collegis Education who writes student-focused articles on behalf of Rasmussen University. She enjoys creating engaging content to help former, current and future students on their path to a rewarding education.


Related Content

Related Content

This piece of ad content was created by Rasmussen University to support its educational programs. Rasmussen University may not prepare students for all positions featured within this content. Please visit for a list of programs offered. External links provided on are for reference only. Rasmussen University does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced. Rasmussen University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, an institutional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

logo-accreditation-acen logo-accreditation-ccne chart-credential-laddering-associates-bachelors-masters 0 Credits90 Credits180 Credits48 CreditsStart HereHIGH SCHOOL GRADSStart HereTRANSFER STUDENTSStart HereSECOND DEGREE PURSUERSEnd HereASSOCIATE'S DEGREEStart HereMASTER'S DEGREEPURSUERSEnd HereBACHELOR'S DEGREEEnd HereMASTER'S DEGREE chart-credential-laddering-associates-bachelors 0 CreditsStart HereHIGH SCHOOL GRADSStart HereTRANSFER STUDENTS90 CreditsStart HereSECOND DEGREE PURSUERSEnd HereASSOCIATE'S DEGREE180 CreditsEnd HereBACHELOR'S DEGREE chart-credential-laddering-msn chart-credential-laddering-nursing-programs chart-credential-laddering-nursing DNPMSNRN to BSNLPN to RN BridgeAccelerated BSNProfessional Nursing ADNPractical Nursing DiplomaPre-LicensurePost-Licensure icon-colored-outline-bank icon-colored-outline-certificate icon-colored-outline-circle-dollar-sign icon-colored-outline-folder-search icon-colored-outline-hand-heart icon-colored-outline-head-blocks icon-colored-outline-head-cog icon-colored-outline-head-heart icon-colored-outline-health-plus-leaves icon-colored-outline-hospital icon-colored-outline-lifelong-learning icon-colored-outline-light-bulb-analytics icon-colored-outline-location-pin icon-colored-outline-maginify-glass icon-colored-outline-magnifying-glass icon-colored-outline-monitor-healthcare icon-colored-outline-monitor-paper-search icon-colored-outline-nurse-rays icon-colored-outline-padlock-shield icon-colored-outline-person-presenter-screen icon-colored-outline-scales icon-colored-advance icon-colored-arrows-cross-curve icon-colored-briefcase-star icon-colored-build icon-colored-bulb-analytics icon-colored-certificate icon-colored-continual-development icon-colored-duo-chatbox icon-colored-folder-mortarboard icon-colored-forward-ribbon icon-colored-gears-clock icon-colored-globe-pen icon-colored-growth icon-colored-hand-bubble icon-colored-hand-stars icon-colored-hands-gear icon-colored-head-blocks icon-colored-head-cog icon-colored-health-plus-leaves icon-colored-hospital-building icon-colored-laptop-cbe-skyscraper icon-colored-laptop-checkmark icon-colored-laptop-webpage icon-colored-location-map icon-colored-location-pin icon-colored-monitor-paper-scan icon-colored-mortarboard-dollar icon-colored-national icon-colored-people-chat-bubbles icon-colored-person-cheer-star icon-colored-person-laptop-checkboxes icon-colored-person-screen-instructor icon-colored-person-whiteboard icon-colored-phone-chatbox icon-colored-police-light icon-colored-prep icon-colored-presenter icon-colored-regional icon-colored-save-time icon-colored-shirt-hat icon-colored-skyscraper icon-colored-state icon-colored-student-centered icon-colored-support icon-colored-world-experience icon-triangle-arrow-up-plant icon-triangle-calendar-pencil icon-triangle-clock-rotating-arrows icon-triangle-display-gears icon-triangle-hand-right-speech-bubble icon-triangle-laptop-coding-brackets icon-triangle-mortarboard icon-triangle-paper-ribbon icon-triangle-person-cheer-star icon-triangle-person-juggle icon-triangle-triple-people-chat-bubble ras-logo-flame ras-logo-horizontal ras-logo-stacked icon-modality-campus icon-modality-field icon-modality-online icon-modality-residential icon-social-facebook-square-colored icon-social-facebook icon-social-google-plus-square icon-social-google-plus icon-social-linkedin-square-colored icon-social-linkedin icon-social-twitter-square icon-social-youtube-play-colored icon-arrow icon-bank icon-camera icon-filter icon-general-chart icon-general-connect icon-general-degree icon-general-discuss icon-general-email icon-general-find icon-general-hat icon-general-heart icon-general-laptop-building icon-general-laptop icon-general-leader icon-general-map icon-general-money icon-general-paperwork icon-general-people icon-general-phone icon-general-speak-out icon-head-heart icon-info-circle icon-mail-forward icon-mglass icon-play-solid icon-quote-mark-left icon-quote-mark-right icon-scales icon-share-square-o icon-simple-chat icon-simple-desktop icon-simple-find icon-simple-hamburger icon-simple-phone icon-spinner icon-tag icon-testimonial-quotes icon-util-checkbox-white icon-util-checkbox icon-util-checked-white icon-util-checked icon-util-chevron-down icon-util-chevron-left icon-util-chevron-right icon-util-chevron-up icon-util-circle-arrow-down icon-util-circle-dot icon-util-language-switch icon-util-loading icon-util-open-window-button icon-util-open-window-link icon-util-pdf-button icon-util-pdf-link icon-util-refresh icon-util-x rebrand-arrows