Are certifications less crucial for healthcare IT jobs?

Timothy Stettheimer, CIO for St. Vincent's Health System in Birmingham, Ala., has more confidence in IT certifications than referrals and in-person interviews when it comes to hiring.

"How do you know you're hiring a good person? You can get a referral, but so what? Someone can interview well, but so what? How do you really know?" Stettheimer said. "But when you can say, 'I've hit these [IT education] targets,' that shows a commitment to advancement."

He admits that some certifications get a bad rap, and are seen as useless or too granular. "I mean, how many Cisco certifications are there out there? I've lost count now. It's great for a technology specialist-level profession, but for a leadership profession, it's not so helpful," he said. But, Stettheimer believes if you're not growing professionally, you're not doing your job.

Flush with federal funds and under the gun of federal regulatory deadlines, the in IT jobs creation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' job placement services.

The bureau projects that IT jobs in healthcare are expected to grow by 20% a year through 2018, "much faster than average." There are currently 176,090 IT jobs in healthcare, according to the agency.

Since November 2009, the number of healthcare IT positions has increased 67%, according to online job search engine, which lists 7,200 open healthcare IT positions out of 4.9 million jobs on its website.