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How to Become a Medical Coder

Medical coders are in high demand due to the Baby Boomer generation’s significantly longer lifespan than that of its predecessors. Between 2016 and 2026, there will be a projected 16% increase in need for medical coders. Find out how to become a medical coder and the typical compensation to expect.

Medical coding is a fast expanding industry that is essential to the healthcare industry’s back-end operations. The employment is perfect for those who prefer to work in non-patient-facing positions within the healthcare industry, but it does demand a detail-oriented approach and specific technical skill set.

It’s not tough to become a medical coder, but you do need some qualifications and an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a science-related field. This manual will show you how to select the top medical coding programs and further education opportunities, as well as the stages to becoming a medical coder.

Medical Coder Job Growth & Salary

Medical records and health information experts have a median yearly pay of $44,090, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). From 2019 to 2029, employment in the sector is anticipated to expand by 8%, which is twice as fast as the average for all occupations.

Verifying medical coding pay around the United States and changes in employment for this area will help you map out your career path, regardless of whether you intend to relocate.

The vast baby boomer group is aging quickly and outliving their parents by a wide margin. In general, the health care sector is experiencing tremendous growth, and medical coders are no exception. Between 2016 and 2026, the demand for coders is anticipated to increase by a whopping 16 percent, according to BLS. That is significantly more than the anticipated expansion in the whole job market. Computer-savvy professionals with expertise in fields like health information are anticipated to be in particularly high demand.

How to Become a Medical Coder
How to Become a Medical Coder

How to Become a Medical Coder

Step 1. Get a Postsecondary Education

Although a post-secondary degree isn’t always necessary to work as a medical coder, several certificates do demand that candidates have the relevant training. A bachelor’s degree, an associate’s degree, or a certificate program are some of your alternatives. Your best choice might be to enroll in a medical coding program or school that is especially made for people who want to work as medical coders.

Also Read: 30 Career Paths in the Medical Field

Step 2. Get a Basic Medical Coding Credential

After completing your school, you can gain certain fundamental qualifications. Some credentials don’t require any work experience, so as long as you complete the educational requirements, you can sit for the exam. Examples include the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) and Certified Coding Associate (CCA) credentials. You can sign up to take the RHIT if you have an associate’s degree in a Health Information Management (HIM) program.

Step 3: Acquire Work Experience in Medical Coding

You’ll be qualified to start working as a medical coder once you’ve obtained the necessary foundational credentials. There are numerous work environments to pick from, including medical offices, hospitals, and more. Many types of medical coding can now be done from home thanks to the growth of remote work.

Step 4. Obtain Advanced Certifications in Medical Coding

After gaining some job experience, you can pursue more advanced degrees to enhance your career. A few years into your employment is the ideal time to finish some higher-level qualifications, such as the Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) and Certified Coding Specialist – Physician-based (CCS-P), which both require work experience in addition to your school background.

Step 5: Professional Development

After receiving your advanced certification, you can carry on working as a medical coder and, if you so want, pursue your career further. Taking on a leadership role as a manager, consultant, or compliance auditor is one way to develop your career. You might also think about going back to school for a higher degree.

Related: Top Medical Billing and Coding Online Courses in 2023

Selecting Medical Coding Schools

There is no one-size-fits-all program for medical coding schools, just like there isn’t for any educational endeavor. Your choice will be influenced by a variety of factors, including the program’s duration, delivery method, cost, and final license, degree, or certification.

Every state in the United States has a network of community colleges, which is a fantastic alternative for many aspirants to become medical coders. For full-time students, community college programs typically last two semesters and call for the completion of 11–19 credits. These kinds of programs are frequently quite affordable, costing less than $1,000 overall.

However, the price of essential course materials can pile up quickly and occasionally exceed the cost of tuition. Online learning is one method to reduce that cost while also providing much more flexibility. Distance learners can finish a course in medical coding in 10 months, frequently for less than $800. The cost of classroom supplies is frequently much lower with web-based training than it would be with conventional, in-person instruction.

Classes for Medical Coders

The basis for your work is medical billing and coding training. The following are some of the fundamental courses that will help you get the knowledge and training required to work as a medical coder:

Medical Office Procedures

Learn the organization, communication, and compliance requirements of a medical practice.

Gained Knowledge & Skills:

  • Filing methods
  • Database administration
  • Compliance

Diagnostic Coding

Apply the ICD-10-CM, or International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision, Clinical Modification, to learn how to code properly.

Gained Knowledge & Skills:

  • correctly enter the diagnosis code
  • Acquire knowledge of coding systems.
  • Recognize the features of the ICD-10-CM

Anatomy and Human Physiology with Medical Terminology

You will study the medical terminologies associated with various body parts and systems, including the neurological system, musculoskeletal system, and more. These courses are frequently taught as a pair.

Gained Knowledge & Skills:

  • Learn to recognize various bodily systems and parts using the correct terminology.
  • Recognize the structure of the body
  • Learn medical vocabulary and anatomy to properly enter codes.

Medical Insurance and Billing

You will gain knowledge of all the insurance alternatives offered by commercial providers, as well as public programs like Medicare and worker’s compensation, and how these programs fit into the health care networks’ revenue cycle.

Gained Knowledge & Skills:

  • Recognize how insurance functions in relation to billing
  • Apply the codes for the worker’s compensation or disability programs.

Current Procedural Codes

You can learn the fundamentals of coding by reading Current Procedural Codes.

Gained Knowledge & Skills:

  • Study the CPT and HCPCS 11 manuals.
  • Learn the basics of how coding operates.
How to Become a Medical Coder
How to Become a Medical Coder

Required Certifications for Medical Coding

You’ll be able to find employment and acquire the skills you need to keep it if you become a certified medical coder. With medical coding, you can obtain numerous certifications:

Certified Professional Coder

You need have two years of professional experience to receive full certification. Additionally, the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) advises getting an associate’s degree. The in-person exam is $399, while the online exam is $299. Additionally, you must pay the $180 membership fee to join the APPC.

Certified Coding Associate

You must possess your high school diploma or an equivalent in order to take the Certified Coding Associate (CCA) exam. Additionally, having one of the following credentials is ideal:

The exam costs $199 if you have an AHIMA membership. Test costs for non-members are $299.

Registered Health Information Technician

You must possess one of the following qualifications in order to take the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) exam:

  • Completed a Health Information Management associate degree program that was certified
  • Completed a foreign program deemed acceptable by the AHIMA
  • Both members and non-members must pay $229 for the exam.

Medical Coding Resources and Training

You’re not alone if you’re a seasoned programmer looking to sharpen your skills or a prospective student searching for the educational program that perfectly fits your needs. For coders or those aspiring to jobs in the sector, there are many associations, organizations, academies, and professional services available.

American Association of Professional Coders

A tool created especially for coders in the healthcare industry is the American Academy of Professional Coders. For people involved in medical coding, billing, auditing, practice management, and healthcare compliance, the academy provides a wide range of tools.

American Medical Association

One of the top healthcare organizations in the industry, the American Medical Association, provides a range of services for medical coders in the form of apps, newsletters, and more.

Healthcare Billing and Management Association

A non-profit trade group with 25 years of experience, HBMA provides health care billing and coding professionals with collaboration, education, certification, and advocacy opportunities.

Medical Group Management Association

Association (MGMA) offers statistics, benchmarking data, and other signs of educational performance in addition to certification. Additionally, it creates educational resources for industry experts, facilitates networking opportunities, and plans industry events.

The Professional Association of Healthcare Coding Specialists

The purpose of PAHCS, a network for coding specialists, is to improve documentation, compliance, and reimbursement capabilities. Nearly 20 different certifications are available through the network.

American Academy of Professional Coders

Only medical coders who work for physicians are the focus of the AAPC. Visit to find out more about networking, certification, and continuing education possibilities.

American Association of Clinical Coders & Auditors

To maintain professional coders in conformity with governmental mandated rules and up to date with health care industry standards, AACCA offers certification and training.

How to Become a Medical Coder
How to Become a Medical Coder

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a medical coder get paid?

Typically, medical coders make between $44,000 and $52,000 annually. The duties and location of a medical coder's job influence their pay.

When may someone become a medical coder?

A medical coding certificate program can be finished in nine to 18 months. It could take two years to finish an associate's degree in medical coding or health information technology.

What is the cost of training to become a medical coder?

Programs for learning medical coding might cost anywhere between $4,000 and $18,000 per year. Additionally, there are testing costs associated with certification tests.

Are there online programs for medical coders?

Yes. Many online trade and technical institutions offer medical coding courses.

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