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Online Medical Billing and Coding Degree Programs

Find out about what kinds of medical billing and coding degree programs are offered in an online environment. Learn about what topics are covered, how online programs work and whether you will need to be certified after graduation.

What Types of Medical Billing and Coding Degrees are Available Online?

Online medical billing and coding programs are most commonly available as 1-year certificate programs. Some 2-year associate's degrees are also available that include additional general education coursework. In both programs you will develop the knowledge and skills necessary for entry-level employment in hospitals, doctors' offices, nursing homes or anywhere else patients receive medical care.

Degree Types1-year certificate programs, 2-year associate's programs
Common Course TopicsProcedural coding, claims processes, chart auditing, medical coding, overview of medical insurance
Technology RequirementsUpdated computer, Internet access, Microsoft Office Suite
CertificationWhile there is not a state licensing requirements, those with a certification through the NHA, BMSC, or PAHCS may be more desirable job candidates
Median Salary (2018)* $40,350 (for medical records and health information technicians)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 13% (for medical records and health information technicians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Learn?

You'll learn how to code medical procedures and diagnoses according to coding systems such as the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) and Current Procedural Terminology (CPT). The majority of coursework also teaches you procedures for processing insurance claims so that medical offices can be reimbursed for their services. You'll also become familiar with the software used by medical billers and coders. Some programs require you to complete online or on-site internships. Common program coursework for both associate's degree and certificate programs includes the following:

  • Diagnostic coding
  • Procedural coding
  • Claims processes
  • Overview of medical insurance
  • Medical billing software
  • Chart auditing
  • Medical coding
  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Medical office procedures

How Do Online Programs Work?

Many medical billing and coding certificate and associate's degree programs are available completely online. Your courses will be delivered via the Internet and you will interact with instructors and students through e-mail, online discussion boards and chat rooms. As in traditional on-campus programs, you will have textbooks with required reading, written assignments and tests. Most programs do not require a proctor for tests. You will be required to have an up-to-date computer, a reliable Internet connection and Microsoft Office Suite.

Will I Need to Be Certified After I Complete My Degree?

There aren't any state licensing requirements for medical billers and coders. However, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), many employers prefer to hire people with certification.

After graduating from a certificate or associate's degree program and gaining a year or more of work experience, you are eligible to sit for medical coding specialty certification examinations in areas such as cardiology, surgery or pediatrics. Certification is available through organizations such as the National Healthcare Association (NHA), the Board of Medical Specialty Coding (BMSC) and the Professional Association of Healthcare Coding Specialists (PAHCS).

Graduates of an associate's degree program with two years of work experience are qualified to sit for credentialing exams through the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC). The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) also offers a Registered Health Information Technician certification for medical coders. You will be required to obtain regular re-certification and continuing education to maintain your credentials.