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How Can I Start a Career As a Medical Biller and Coder?

Medical billers and coders assign codes to different medical diagnoses and procedures, use the code to put the patient in a DRG (diagnosis-related group), and then bill insurance companies and or individuals for the procedures. Some medical billers and coders receive on-the-job training, but employers tend to prefer candidates with some postsecondary training.

Education

Training should start in high school with courses in computers, health, chemistry, math, and biology. Aspiring medical billers and coders should consider earning a certificate or a diploma in medical billing and coding. Many of these programs are offered online, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). Some employers offer on-the-job training, but college training demonstrates commitment, knowledge, and drive. College courses can provide a basic understanding of the concepts needed to work in the field:

  • How the human body works
  • Medical terminology
  • Legalities in the health professions
  • Standards in health data
  • Data abstraction
  • Medical coding
  • Medical billing
  • Statistics
  • Database management
  • Computers

Important Facts About This Occupation

Median Salary (2018) $40,350 (For Medical Records and Health Information Technicians)
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 13% (For Medical Records and Health Information Technicians)
Similar Occupations Medical Assistant, Medical Office Administrator, Medical Transcriptionist
Work Environment Office setting
Key Skills Knowledge of medical terminology; attention to detail; ability to type quickly

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Vocational Training

There are many organizations offering certification for medical billers and coders. The Board of Medical Specialty Coding & Compliance (BMSC, www.medicalspecialtycoding.com) offers certifications for individuals with two years of experience. There are different certifications depending on the candidate's particular medical area of interest, such as anesthesia, cardiology, family practice, or radiology. Though certification is not required, it is recommended and employers may prefer it. There are many other organizations offering certification in the field of medical billing and coding:

  • National Healthcareer Association (NHA, www.nhanow.com)
  • American Health Information Management Association (www.ahima.org)
  • Professional Association of Healthcare Coding Specialists (PAHCS, www.pahcs.org)
  • American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC, www.aapc.com)

Career Advancement Opportunities

According to PayScale.com and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical billers and coders can often advance in the medical field to become medical office managers and health information technicians. Advancement requires additional education and possibly licensing or certification.