What Is Medical Coding, and Is it Right for Me? | Medical Coding and Billing Career Info, Job Description, Salary, and Learning Requirements Skip to main content

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Medical Coding and Billing Careers: Is a Career in Medical Coding or Billing Right for Me?

The field of health care is vast and includes many different types of health care professionals. Support staff are needed to keep hospitals and doctors' offices running smoothly; medical coding and billing specialists are vital to the function of health services. Both careers allow people to earn a living in health care, while often retaining the ability to work from home.

What Is Medical Coding and Billing?

Medical coding and medical billing are two separate jobs, but they work hand in hand as crucial parts of how health services are documented and paid for. Medical coding and billing professionals ensure that insurance claims are coded, filed and paid appropriately.

Once you understand the meaning of the medical coding and billing job descriptions, you may be wondering, "Is medical coding and billing for me?" To get a better grasp on the answer to that question, start by thinking about what you'll need to learn for a medical coding career or a medical billing job, and how you'll go about acquiring these skills

Medical Coding vs. Medical Billing

Medical coding and medical billing are both fundamental parts of the industry of health care that help keep records orderly and ensure that providers are reimbursed for the services they deliver, but which career is right for you may depend in part on your personality type. Medical billing requires being comfortable dealing with financial records and talking on the phone to resolve issues, while medical coding requires a more analytical, detail-oriented mind. If you're still trying to decide which is better for you, medical billing vs. medical coding, it really comes down to which of these career paths plays to your personal strengths.

Medical Coding Career Outlook
Medical Billing Career Outlook

How to Start Learning Medical Coding and Billing

To begin a career in medical coding and billing, it is important to build the practical skills needed. Through online medical coding and billing courses, students are introduced to course material that will prepare them for their future careers and the certification exams that show they are skilled in their chosen field. Learning on your schedule with an online medical coding certificate program or a medical billing certificate program offers students the flexibility needed to move towards their career goals.

What Personal Skills Are Necessary for Medical Billing and Coding?

If you're interested in a career in medical billing and coding, some skills you may find useful are:

  • Attention to detail
  • Communication
  • Computer literacy
  • Accounting and bookkeeping
  • Knowledge of medical terminology
  • Problem-solving
  • Teamwork

How to Decide Which Medical Coding and Billing Program is Right for Me?

When deciding if a career in medical coding and billing is what you’d like to pursue and where to learn medical coding and billing, keep these questions in mind:

  • Does the institution offer medical coding and billing education that will help me pass the certification exams?
  • What kind of learning experience do I need to help me succeed?
  • Does this institution fit my budget? Does it offer financing options?
  • What lessons does this institution cover in its medical coding and billing course outline? Will it go over the medical coding duties and medical billing responsibilities that will be part of my day-to-day career and prepare me for the workforce?
  • Is there an instructor available to help medical coding and billing students that may require additional guidance?
  • Does this institution offer career assistance?

Where to Learn Medical Coding and Billing

If you are interested in careers in medical coding and billing, U.S. Career Institute encourages you to choose an education program that not only covers medical coding and billing guidelines for beginners, but also fits with your learning style and empowers you to improve your career options. Whether you are interested in a medical specialties associate degree or in a medical coding and billing certificate program that will prepare you to take the professional exams required, we are confident that U.S. Career Institute can pair you with an affordable, self-paced online medical coding and billing program that allows you to learn anywhere, anytime.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Medical Biller or Coder?

How long it takes to learn medical billing or coding depends on your certificate program of choice, your own schedule, your previous work experience, and your time commitment. It could take anywhere from a few months to a few years.

Medical Coding and Billing Program Resources

Medical Coding and Billing Job Opportunities

If you're wondering why medical billing and coding is a good career choice, just look at the increasing number of medical billing and medical coding positions all over the country.

Is Medical Coding and Billing in Demand?

Yes. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for these careers is promising, and the BLS projects that demand will continue to increase over the next few years at a higher rate than the national average for other careers.

The Medical Coding Career Path

What Is the Medical Coding Job Description?

A medical coding specialist is responsible for reviewing a patient's file and translating the medical provider's notes into codes that indicate to insurance companies what services were provided. A medical coding career is focused on the seamless transfer of medical documentation between entities responsible for providing care and those responsible for paying for that care.

Medical Coding Program Resources

Where to Get Certification: Which Medical Coding Certification Is Best?

At U.S. Career Institute, we recommend earning certification from the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), the world's largest credentialing organization in the field. AAPC offers a wide variety of certification options and specializations to ensure that you know how to handle different medical coding responsibilities. Your education through U.S. Career Institute will prepare you to sit for professional certification exams offered by AAPC and will prepare you for success in the field of medical coding.

After you’ve completed your medical coding education, you may also opt to pursue certification through the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) is yet another professional organization that offers certification exams for medical coding professionals.

What Is the Average Medical Coding Salary?

The medical coding and billing salaries vary, depending on where you work but, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2019 median pay was $42,630*. Factors that impact the medical coding pay rate include your location, experience, and the size of the facility you work in.

How Much Do Medical Coding and Billing Professionals Make per Hour?

If you're still trying to decide between medical coding and billing, pay rate differences could influence your career choice, as these options have different starting rates of pay. Medical coding’s average pay rate is $21.16 per hour* versus a medical billing pay rate that averages $19 per hour**. Both specialties offer a steady income, but those who want to maximize their earning potential may choose to learn both to become medical coding and billing professionals.

Which Medical Coding Certification Pays the Most?

Professionals who have been certified by the AAPC report a higher medical coding pay rate. You'll find that your medical coding income is higher if you earn more specific certifications and stay on top of maintaining your credentials.

The Medical Billing Career Path

What Does a Medical Biller Do?

While medical coding, by definition, focuses on turning verbal notes into code, a medical billing specialist takes these codes and submits them to the patient's insurance company, then follows up with the insurer and the patient to make sure that the appropriate payments are made.

Medical Billing Program Resources

Where to Get Certification: Which Medical Billing Certification Is Best?

Both The AMBA and the AAPC offer Medical Billing certification, but the AMBA has been certifying professionals in Medical Billing for over a decade and specializes specifically in Medical Billing, while the AAPC has only recently started to offer certification in Medical Billing. The AMBA focuses on 16 fields rather than the 7 fields that the AAPC covers.

How Much Does a Medical Billing Professional Make in a Year?

Medical Billing salaries vary by state, education level, certifications, the type of employer a person works for, and the amount of experience. According to a 2019 estimate from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the annual average salary for Medical Billing Specialists is $38,740**.

Medical Coding and Billing vs. Other Health Careers

If you know you're interested in going into the field of health care, but you aren't sure what kind of career you'd enjoy, it's important to weigh the benefits of each option. Medical coding and billing are popular choices in recent years as demand for these professions has grown, but they are by no means the only options. Since the medical industry is relatively stable, there's plenty of job security and opportunity.

Medical Specialties Associate Degree Program

Medical Coding vs. Nursing

Medical coding and nursing are two completely different careers and choosing between the two depends on what kind of job suits you best. Nursing involves long hours of working with patients and doctors. It requires hands-on work with patients and medical professionals. It is a career that asks a lot and can offer a lot of satisfaction in return. Medical coding involves more flexibility and little to no direct interaction with patients or other health professionals. Medical coding is a career you can prepare for quickly and taking specialized certification exams can lead to advancement and higher wages.

Medical Coding vs. Transcription

Similar to medical billing and coding, medical transcription deals with patient records, but the focus is on listening to doctors audio dictation from examinations, diagnosis’s and procedures and transcribing that information into professionally formatted medical reports. Medical transcription is a niche job, and people in this role may have to handle other duties as well, such as quality assurance to ensure that consultations are done in-line with hospital or clinic regulations.

Medical Coding Questions and Answers

If you're still on the fence about becoming a medical coder or medical biller, our team has created a list of common medical coding questions (FAQs) that you can help you determine if either of these careers is a good fit for you.

Can I Pass the Certification Exams Without a Degree?

It's possible to earn certification without a degree or certificate but considering the knowledge necessary to get the minimum grade on these exams, you'll definitely need some sort of training to learn what you need to know. At U.S. Career Institute, our certificate programs are designed to prepare you for career success, and students who have completed these courses may be more likely to pass the required certification exam.

Will I Have the Ability to Work From Home?

It's entirely possible that you'll be able to work from home, as plenty of coding and billing jobs can be done remotely, either part-time, full-time, or on a case-by-case basis.

Professional Medical Coding and Billing Organizations

If you're interested in the medical coding and billing career path and would like more information to help you determine if either is a career you could see yourself in, you can learn more from these medical coding organizations:

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Or call toll-free 866.250.6851 to learn more.

*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Medical Records and Health Information Technicians, on the internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-records-and-health-information-technicians.htm, (visited December 1, 2020). Statements found in the United States Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook are not a guarantee of any post-graduation salary, in part because the data used to create the Occupational Outlook Handbook includes workers from differing educational backgrounds, levels of experience, and geographic areas of the country.
**Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Office and Administrative Support and Financial Clerks, on the internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/financial-clerks.htm, (visited December 1, 2020). Statements found in the United States Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook are not a guarantee of any post-graduation salary, in part because the data used to create the Occupational Outlook Handbook includes workers from differing educational backgrounds, levels of experience, and geographic areas of the country.