Informatics Careers: What it Takes and How to Get There

Informatics professionals understand the users’ needs and their skillset is in demand

Informatics is a relatively newer field, so it’s not surprising this question is often raised: What is informatics? In its broadest sense, informatics is the science, practice, or process of collecting, organizing, storing, analyzing, preserving, retrieving, and governing data and records relevant to an organization. But, informatics is distinctive from similar disciplines in that it’s all about the end user.

For instance, informatics professionals turn data and information into actionable knowledge from a user-centered perspective within the context of a specific discipline or industry, such as health or sports. In other words, they uncover critical information that can improve the user experience — ultimately leading to achieving company goals.

What kinds of work do informatics professionals do?

Jobs in informatics can be found across multiple industries, including health, sports and privacy. No matter the industry, informatics professionals may find themselves doing the following types of work:

· Apply technology informatics skills to solve user-centric information and data problems

· Develop and implement information assurance and ethics and privacy solutions

· Identify user needs and create and test new prototypes to meet those needs

· Develop, manage and evaluate electronic records programs

· Conduct informatics analysis and visualization focused on user experience

What does it take to be an informatics professional?

An interest in exploring connections between people and technology is a common trait among informatics professionals. Building on an initial interest in human/computer interaction, individuals can learn specific informatics knowledge and skills like those taught in graduate programs. For instance, at the San Jose State University School of Information, students in the Informatics Master’s degree online program “focus on design thinking skills to learn how to meet the needs of end users,” explains Linda Main, associate director.

Informatics professionals need an understanding of:

· Big data analytics and management

· Human-centered design

· Electronic records management

· Digital assets management

· Information security and governance

In addition, informatics professionals need to have:

· Strong project management skills

· Interpersonal communication skills

· Design (or redesign) aptitude for workflow processes to optimize data gathering, management, and strategic value

· Proficiency in creating and working within budgets

Where are the informatics jobs?

Informatics jobs are on the rise as regulatory and business requirements make gathering, managing, and drawing conclusions from specific types of data a strategic imperative. This is especially the case in medical and healthcare fields where informatics is being used to improve patient access to their online medical information.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook (April 2018), employment of medical and health services managers is projected to grow 20 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Besides health informatics, jobs are also expanding to these disciplines and potential job opportunities:

· Sports informatics

· Behavioral informatics

· Business informatics

· Privacy informatics

· Community informatics

· Geoinformatics

· Imaging informatics

· Museum informatics

· Research informatics

· Social informatics

· Urban informatics

Titles for informatics professionals vary by industry and company, as well as by area of specialization or work setting. In addition to looking for jobs with informatics in the title, job seekers might want to also search for health information manager, medical records specialist, information architect, sports analytics researcher, web application developer, clinical data analyst, among others.

Also, some job listings are using “data” rather than “informatics” in the job title. For example, employers may post a job opening for a data analyst, data manager, data science specialist, data strategist, and research data specialist.

What is the salary range for informatics professionals?

Salaries for informatics professionals are (like most salaries) influenced by a host of variables: geographic region, levels of responsibility, industry, size and type of employer, degree of skills specialization (and demand for that specialization), and level of expertise/experience.

For example, a search for nursing informatics manager among three top salary and job sites shows salaries of $82,000 (Payscale.com), $68,000 (Glassdoor.com), and $56,000-$104,000 (Indeed.com). A research informatics analyst in Colorado makes $63,000-$86,000, while a clinical informaticist in New York City makes an estimated $73,000-$91,000, according to SimplyHired.com.