The healthcare industry is hot, hot, hot right now and it can be a great area of focus for administrative professionals. Learn what a recruiter in the healthcare sector has to say about making the move from traditional administrative roles to healthcare admin jobs.

With strong job growth and rising salaries, it's no wonder many administrative professionals are curious about what the administrative healthcare field has to offer. So, what does it take to land healthcare admin jobs?

We spoke with Allan J. Gregory, vice president and healthcare practice manager for Central New Jersey with Robert Half (OfficeTeam's parent company), to get answers to some of the most common questions people have about working in the healthcare sector in administrative positions. Here's what he had to say:

Q: What advice would you give to an administrative professional looking to break into the healthcare industry?

Allan: I would strongly suggest the professional team with an experienced healthcare staffing agency, so the candidate can best utilize the recruiter's relationships in the marketplace to secure potential interviews. Recruiters will be able to open doors for new healthcare industry professionals that otherwise would be difficult to open.

Q: Is previous healthcare experience often requested by clients?

Allan: Yes, in most cases it is. For traditional front desk medical office positions, the requirements will be less stringent than those required for coding positions, for example. There certainly will be cases in which a candidate with only a healthcare externship experience will be considered for the front desk, but not generally for a coding position.

Q: In what ways is the work different for administrative professionals in the healthcare sector than in more traditional business settings?

Allan: The healthcare administrative professional often will be tasked with learning and understanding the nuances of medical insurance. They will be asked to perform insurance verifications and pre-authorizations as part of their daily job duties. Also, healthcare administrative professionals will generally be asked to work on specialized medical software packages, such as Nextgen, eClinicalWorks and Medisoft, whereas traditional office employees will spend most of their computer time using MS Word, Excel and Outlook.

Q: How is it the same?

Allan: Professional demeanor, appearance, the ability to multitask and a customer service orientation are of paramount importance in both healthcare and non-healthcare jobs.

Q: What qualities and skills do clients most commonly ask for in administrative healthcare candidates?

Allan: They want knowledge of EMR (electronic medical records) systems, the ability to handle a high volume of incoming patients and phone calls, and experience within the same specialty area (i.e., a cardiology practice will seek a candidate who has previously worked in a cardiology office).

Check out our current listings for healthcare admin jobs:

Q: What type of education is sought after by employers?

Allan: For the administrative healthcare professional, specialized healthcare administrative coursework is preferred, but not necessarily required. For those seeking medical coding positions, Certified Professional Coder (CPC) or Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) are highly desired and valued.

Q: What positions are in greatest demand?

Allan: Medical receptionist, medical front desk coordinator and medical secretary, along with medical coders.

Q: What trends are you seeing in the healthcare industry that will affect hiring demand this year?

Allan: The ACA (Affordable Care Act) has given access to many individuals who may otherwise not have visited a doctor's office or hospital. Due to this increase, healthcare administrative staff requirements have also increased, along with the workload that follows this increase in patient visits.

Q: What do you enjoy most about working with candidates and clients in the administrative healthcare field?

Allan: The administrative healthcare field is full of wonderful, caring individuals who have chosen this field to help and assist others. You will find the employees and managers tend to be friendly and welcoming.

This post has been updated to reflect more current information.