If you’ve ever considered entering the medical coding field, now is the time. With a projected job growth outlook of about 8% in the next decade (much higher than average), you can expect to see the demand for medical coders rising in the next few years. Why? Because medical coding is an integral part of individual healthcare facilities and the industry as a whole.
As a medical coder, you’ll be responsible for turning doctor’s notes, orders, treatments, prescriptions, and any other forms/written documents by medical professionals into standardized codes to use for billing purposes. Without these standardized codes, billing would be a nightmare, and many patients likely wouldn’t be able to make insurance claims for treatment.
The bottom line is that you’re playing an important role in the healthcare industry, but what are the options with a certification? What kind of work can you do?
Where/How To Get A Certification
Let’s talk about how to acquire a certification. You have a few different options, but most people opt for the faster programs so they can get right to work. Some programs take as little as ten months to complete, and once you pass your exams, you’re certified and can start working right away. Of course, you’ll need to check your state guidelines as well to see if there are any extra requirements.
Medical billing and coding classes are far more affordable than a four-year degree, as well. A certification and an associate’s degree can both (essentially) achieve the same thing, and you’ll spend much less on your classes and materials overall. This is the cheaper and faster option, and perfect for people who want to get into the medical field or who are switching careers.
Find a program that’s right for you. There are many online programs that are more flexible for working professionals, parents, and others who don’t want to spend all of their time in class. There are also work at your own pace courses that you can finish whenever you want.
What Kinds of Certifications Are There?
There are several different certifications that you can pursue as a medical coder and/or biller. These include the following:
Certified Professional Coder (CPC): This option is for those that want to work in a physician’s office. It’s the basic medical coding certification.
Certified Outpatient Coder (COC): This option is for those that want to work in a hospital or long-term care facility.
Certified Inpatient Coder (CIC): This option is for those that wish to work in a hospital or other inpatient care facility.
Certified Risk Adjustment Coder (CRAC): This option is for those who want to work in a hospital; the CRAC will perform professional risk adjustment, documentation review, and determine conditions that qualify for coding.
In addition to these four basic certifications, you can also obtain several specialized certifications, including, but not limited to:
For more information on certifications, you can visit the AAPC website here.
Where You Can Work With A Certification
The great thing about a medical billing and coding certification is that you can essentially work anywhere with it. After all, every healthcare facility needs a biller/coder to properly bill out and code its services, and there are thousands of facilities across the country and the world.
You can obtain certain specializations that will not only increase your options for employment, but potentially your salary, too. Most coders/billers start out at around $43,000 per year, but that’s the base salary without any specialized coding experience or certifications.
Reasons To Pursue This Career
So, why would anyone want to pursue a career in coding and billing? For starters, it’s one of the fastest career paths in the medical field. You can earn a certification in as little as ten months, and since job growth is steady, you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding work after graduation.
Secondly, the pay is good starting out. At $43,000 per year, you’ll be sitting on a decent salary with minimal student debt. Sure, doctors and surgeons can make hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, but they’re usually buried in student debt when they graduate. If you don’t want to drudge through medical school, medical billing and coding might be the best route to take.
Medical billing and coding is crucial to the healthcare industry, and you’ll be playing a vital role in patient care behind-the-scenes. Ensuring that the patients’ care is paid for is just as important as ensuring that it’s available at all! Don’t underestimate the role you’ll play as a biller and coder, and remember—ten to twelve months is no time at all to change your life and your career to something more valuable and rewarding!