Medical Billing Specialist: Education and Career Facts

Medical billing specialists perform essential billing and finance-related functions for physician offices and hospitals. Get more info about this career field, explore educational options, and review the qualifications for voluntary certification. Check the career outlook for medical billing specialists, and find out how much they typically earn in a year. Schools offering Insurance Billing & Coding Specialist degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Medical billing specialists work with their office and insurance companies to handle payments for healthcare services. You can receive training for this position as part of a certificate or associate's degree program, either of which should prepare you to take a certification exam. Your coursework will cover medical and payment topics, preparing you for your career.

Programs Certificates and associate's degree programs are available
Courses HIPAA rules, fraud and abuse, drug classifications, healthcare coding, electronic data interchange, the hospital revenue cycle, medical terminology, human anatomy
Median Salary (2018) $36,836


What Are Medical Billing Specialists?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical billing specialists fall under the medical records and health information technician category ( In general, your duties as a medical billing specialist are to file health claims and payments, and to communicate with insurance agencies concerning physician and hospital reimbursement for patient treatment. Although medical coders are sometimes classified with this career, being a medical billing specialist indicates that you will work specifically in the billing side of the business.

What Should I Look for in an Educational Program?

You should enroll in a program that prepares you to take the American Medical Billing Association (AMBA) exam to earn the Certified Medical Reimbursement Specialist (CMRS) designation. Your educational program will include information on:

  • Medical terminology
  • Federal insurance policies and regulations
  • Fraud detection
  • Medical coding
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Business management systems

Certificate programs may be only one year, while an associate's degree will take up to two years to complete. An associate's degree program takes longer to complete due to the additional liberal arts coursework that is required. Certificate programs may be as short as nine months since they focus exclusively on medical billing coursework.

Do I Need to Become Certified?

While many physicians and hospitals prefer to hire billing specialists who are certified, certification is not required. Passing the Certified Medical Reimbursement Specialist exam gives your resume a higher status among job applicants and can lead to higher pay. The certification exam can be taken any time after you complete your academic degree or certificate program.

According to the Certified Medical Reimbursement Specialist exam guide, you need to submit 15 continuing education credits (CEUs) each year for re-certification. Continuing education credits are classified as seminars, webinars, online classes and other courses taken each year for re-certification.

What is the Career Employment Outlook and Salary Like?

Generally speaking, the field of medical records and health information technology is projected to increase 13% in employment opportunities from 2016-2026. This is due to the heightened medical needs of an aging baby boom generation in the United States and the increase in insurance payment and payment technologies that are integrated into the healthcare system. reports that pay varies depending on the position of the medical billing specialist, experience and certification. The median pay for medical billing specialists was approximately $36,836 in 2018. Overall salaries ranged from $27,974 - $51,329, also according to

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