The world of medical billing and coding is a fast-paced one within which billers and coders process the exchange of data between patients and the companies that provide them with their health care benefits.

Medical billing and coding specialists are responsible for reading patient charts, medical history, the diagnosis of each patient, and the care prescriptions if any, they receive after diagnosis. Based on this information, they then begin a process of transcribing the specifics into a medical code (ICD-10) that is understood and applied by both the patients’ doctors and their insurance companies. All of this is done so that patients receive the care they need, and insurance companies are charged the correct amount of money for that care.

What is medical billing & coding?

Billers and coders are the technicians that keep the cogs of the medical machine turning. Without them, data would not be properly recorded, patients might not receive the care they need, and insurance companies would have no way of knowing how much and when to pay for services.

They get to see hundreds of patient’s healthcare journeys, from start to finish, and aid in making sure that they are getting the care they need. They also ensure that their insurance companies are paying what they need to.

What are the Responsibilities of a Billing and Coding Specialist?

As with all careers, the particular set of responsibilities you are required to handle will depend on the facility in which you work. Thankfully, regardless of where a medical biller or a medical coder is employed, the core of their work remains the same. Here are a few of the most important aspects of billing and coding;

  • Examine patient charts/records
  • Interact with doctors, healthcare providers, or PAs in order to make sure information is recorded correctly
  • Track patient information with each visit and upload that data into the system
  • Understand the code needed to communicate properly with insurance companies for services rendered, then accurately enter that code into the system
  • Maintain the ability to manage a high volume of detailed information, while keeping it organized
  • Ensure that the correct codes are being used for each specific situation
  • Maintain patient confidentiality throughout the process

What is the process to become a billing and coding specialist?

The process to becoming a medical billing and coding specialist consists of four steps.

  1. Decide if you want to become certified
  2. Graduate from a medical billing and coding program
  3. Complete an internship or get work experience
  4. Take the certification exam and become certified

Step 1: Decide if you want to become certified

Making the choice to embark on a new career can be scary. It requires work, dedication, and, for most people, stepping outside of their comfort zones. However, if the challenges and responsibilities of working in the billing and coding world sound fulfilling to you, then your next step is to decide whether or not you want to become certified.

It is possible to work as a medical biller or coder without certifications, but both options have their pros and cons. Let’s discuss these further.

Pros and cons of choosing not to become certified

Pros
  • You will not have to go through the one year course it takes to obtain a certification.
  • You will not have to deal with student loans, fees, and the cost of textbooks.
Cons
  • The main con to this choice is less job security
  • You will be competing with people who have been certified. Certified individuals usually get the job over those who aren’t
  • Pay for non-certified specialists is usually lower than their certified peers

Pros and cons of choosing to earn your certification

Pros
  • More job security.
  • An edge on the competition
  • A certification tells potential employers that you are dedicated and goal-oriented
  • You can demand more pay due to your certification
  • Employers hire people they can trust to do the job right. Your certification tells them you know what you are doing.
Cons
  • The typical billing and coding certification course will take about a year
  • Like all formal education, there is a financial cost involved. You may have to be prepared to take out a loan and learn what programs you might qualify for help from.

Top 100 Affordable Medical Billing and Coding Programs

The list below is our Top 100 Most Affordable Medical Billing and Coding Schools List. We came up with this list using IPEDS and NCES.ed.gov educational data and statistics and information provided by the schools themselves that was more accurate (Tuition cost vs Net Price) and used our own custom methodology.

Methodology

We ranked every accredited medical coding and billing program that had online courses available, offered job and career services and offered night and weekend courses. This then presented a large list of schools. We then ranked each school in multiple categories like tuition cost (we used a cost of living multiplier), student to faculty ratio, full and part-time certification rates and a few others. After all that, we then added all the scores.

We feel like this presents a great picture of the best medical billing and coding programs in the country with a focus on affordability within realm of accredited and quality schools. Congratulations to all the schools on the list for we know every list is subjective but we really feel like every school on the list is worthy of your enrollment without hesitation.

If you are represent an institution featured on our list, we invite you to grab a free copy of the top 100 badge and proudly post it on your school’s website so that current and future students can share in the excitement of this prestigious award. Medicalfieldcareers.com is committed to the continued growth and success of the medical billing and coding profession. Join us in saluting the 100 outstanding institutions showcased on this list!

#1-20

#1 – Score 829

Ogeechee Technical College

In-State Tuition ’16-’17
$2872
Tuition Adjusted for Cost of Living
$2,497

School Website
Financial Aid Info

One Joseph E. Kennedy Blvd.
Statesboro, GA 30458
(912) 681-5500 or (800) 646-1316

# of Billing/Coding Certificates Awarded ’16-’17
20
Grad rate
50%
Student/Faculty Ratio
13:1
Job Placement
Yes
Career Counseling
Yes

#2 – Score 813

Central Georgia Technical College

In-State Tuition ’16-’17
$2,714
Tuition Adjusted for Cost of Living
$2,642

School Website
Financial Aid Info

80 Cohen Walker Drive
Warner Robins, Georgia 31088
(478) 988-6800

# of Billing/Coding Certificates Awarded ’16-’17
55
Grad rate
27%
Student/Faculty Ratio
14:1
Job Placement
Yes
Career Counseling
Yes

#3 – Score 811

Albany Technical College

In-State Tuition ’16-’17
$2,654
Tuition Adjusted for Cost of Living
$2,441

School Website
Financial Aid Info

1704 South Slappey Boulevard,
Albany, Georgia 31701
(229) 430-3500

# of Billing/Coding Certificates Awarded ’16-’17
23
Grad rate
37%
Student/Faculty Ratio
15:1
Job Placement
Yes
Career Counseling
Yes

#4 – Score 807

Fox Valley Technical College

In-State Tuition ’16-’17
$4,436
Tuition Adjusted for Cost of Living
$4,125

School Website
Financial Aid Info

1825 N Bluemound Dr,
Appleton, Wisconsin 54912-2277
800-735-3882

# of Billing/Coding Certificates Awarded ’16-’17
50
Grad rate
54%
Student/Faculty Ratio
12:1
Job Placement
Yes
Career Counseling
Yes

#5 – Score 799

Lakeshore Technical College

In-State Tuition ’16-’17
$4,125
Tuition Adjusted for Cost of Living
$3,836

School Website
Financial Aid Info

1290 North Avenue,
Cleveland, Wisconsin 53015-1414
920-693-1000

# of Billing/Coding Certificates Awarded ’16-’17
30
Grad rate
49%
Student/Faculty Ratio
13:1
Job Placement
Yes
Career Counseling
Yes

#6 – Score 779

Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College

In-State Tuition ’16-’17
$4,598
Tuition Adjusted for Cost of Living
$4,276

School Website
Financial Aid Info

505 Pine Ridge Drive,
Shell Lake, Wisconsin 54871-8727
800.243.9482 or 715.468.2815

# of Billing/Coding Certificates Awarded ’16-’17
17
Grad rate
54%
Student/Faculty Ratio
8:1
Job Placement
Yes
Career Counseling
Yes

#7 – Score 770

Savannah Technical College

In-State Tuition ’16-’17
$2,704
Tuition Adjusted for Cost of Living
$2,487

School Website
Financial Aid Info

5717 White Bluff Rd,
Savannah, Georgia 31405-5594
(912) 443-5700

# of Billing/Coding Certificates Awarded ’16-’17
36
Grad rate
32%
Student/Faculty Ratio
16:1
Job Placement
Yes
Career Counseling
Yes

#8 – Score 756

Mid-State Technical College

In-State Tuition ’16-’17
$4,340
Tuition Adjusted for Cost of Living
$4,036

School Website
Financial Aid Info

500 32nd St N,
Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin 54494
888-575-6782

# of Billing/Coding Certificates Awarded ’16-’17
20
Grad rate
42%
Student/Faculty Ratio
12:1
Job Placement
Yes
Career Counseling
Yes

#9 – Score 739

Southwest Wisconsin Technical College

In-State Tuition ’16-’17
$4,340
Tuition Adjusted for Cost of Living
$4,036

School Website
Financial Aid Info

1800 Bronson Blvd,
Fennimore, Wisconsin 53809-9778
608-822-3262

# of Billing/Coding Certificates Awarded ’16-’17
19
Grad rate
61%
Student/Faculty Ratio
16:1
Job Placement
Yes
Career Counseling
Yes

#10 – Score 733

Northcentral Technical College

In-State Tuition ’16-’17
$4,313
Tuition Adjusted for Cost of Living
$4,011

School Website
Financial Aid Info

1000 Campus Dr,
Wausau, Wisconsin 54401-1899
715-675-3331

# of Billing/Coding Certificates Awarded ’16-’17
26
Grad rate
33%
Student/Faculty Ratio
15:1
Job Placement
Yes
Career Counseling
Yes

#11 – Score 728

Oconee Fall Line Technical College

In-State Tuition ’16-’17
$3,921
Tuition Adjusted for Cost of Living
$3,607

School Website
Financial Aid Info

1189 Deepstep Rd,
Sandersville, Georgia 31082
877-399-8324

# of Billing/Coding Certificates Awarded ’16-’17
8
Grad rate
34%
Student/Faculty Ratio
9:1
Job Placement
Yes
Career Counseling
Yes

#12 – Score 727

Augusta Technical College

In-State Tuition ’16-’17
$2,704
Tuition Adjusted for Cost of Living
$2,487

School Website
Financial Aid Info

3200 Augusta Tech Drive,
Augusta, Georgia 30906
706-771-4000

# of Billing/Coding Certificates Awarded ’16-’17
11
Grad rate
39%
Student/Faculty Ratio
16:1
Job Placement
Yes
Career Counseling
Yes

#13 – Score 717

Atlanta Technical College

In-State Tuition ’16-’17
$2,756
Tuition Adjusted for Cost of Living
$2,535

School Website
Financial Aid Info

1560 Metropolitan Pkwy SW,
Atlanta, Georgia 30310-4446
404-225-4400

# of Billing/Coding Certificates Awarded ’16-’17
18
Grad rate
44%
Student/Faculty Ratio
18:1
Job Placement
Yes
Career Counseling
Yes

#14 – Score 709

Madison Area Technical College

In-State Tuition ’16-’17
$4,281
Tuition Adjusted for Cost of Living
$3,981

School Website
Financial Aid Info

1701 Wright Street,
Madison, Wisconsin 53704-2599
608-246-6100 or 800-322-6282

# of Billing/Coding Certificates Awarded ’16-’17
36
Grad rate
21%
Student/Faculty Ratio
11:1
Job Placement
Yes
Career Counseling
Yes

#15 – Score 698

Georgia Northwestern Technical College

In-State Tuition ’16-’17
$2,764
Tuition Adjusted for Cost of Living
$2,542

School Website
Financial Aid Info

One Maurice Culberson Drive,
Rome, Georgia 30161
866-983-4682

# of Billing/Coding Certificates Awarded ’16-’17
17
Grad rate
36%
Student/Faculty Ratio
18:1
Job Placement
Yes
Career Counseling
Yes

#16 – Score 698

Columbus Technical College

In-State Tuition ’16-’17
$2,704
Tuition Adjusted for Cost of Living
$2,487

School Website
Financial Aid Info

928 Manchester Expy, Columbus,
Georgia 31904-6572
706-649-1800

# of Billing/Coding Certificates Awarded ’16-’17
27
Grad rate
21%
Student/Faculty Ratio
16:1
Job Placement
Yes
Career Counseling
Yes

#17 – Score 694

Western Technical College

In-State Tuition ’16-’17
$3,776
Tuition Adjusted for Cost of Living
$3,511

School Website
Financial Aid Info

400 Seventh St. North,
La Crosse, Wisconsin 54601
608-785-9875

# of Billing/Coding Certificates Awarded ’16-’17
3
Grad rate
41%
Student/Faculty Ratio
9:1
Job Placement
Yes
Career Counseling
Yes

#18 – Score 692

Lanier Technical College

In-State Tuition ’16-’17
$3,169
Tuition Adjusted for Cost of Living
$2,915

School Website
Financial Aid Info

2990 Landrum Education Dr,
Oakwood, Georgia 30566
770-533-7000

# of Billing/Coding Certificates Awarded ’16-’17
6
Grad rate
32%
Student/Faculty Ratio
14:1
Job Placement
Yes
Career Counseling
Yes

#19 – Score 682

Arkansas State University-Mountain Home

In-State Tuition ’16-’17
$2,784
Tuition Adjusted for Cost of Living
$2,394

School Website
Financial Aid Info

1600 South College Street,
Mountain Home, Arkansas 72653
870-508-6100

# of Billing/Coding Certificates Awarded ’16-’17
7
Grad rate
49%
Student/Faculty Ratio
16:1
Job Placement
Yes
Career Counseling
Yes

#20 – Score 671

Shoreline Community College

In-State Tuition ’16-’17
$3,735
Tuition Adjusted for Cost of Living
$3,921

School Website
Financial Aid Info

16101 Greenwood Ave N,
Shoreline, Washington 98133-5696
206-546-4101

# of Billing/Coding Certificates Awarded ’16-’17
27
Grad rate
31%
Student/Faculty Ratio
14:1
Job Placement
Yes
Career Counseling
Yes

#21-100

RankSchool Name and WebsiteAddressGrad
Rate
Student to
Faculty Ratio
Cost of Living
Adjusted
Tuition
Total Score
21Gwinnett Technical College5150 Sugarloaf Parkway,
Lawrenceville, Georgia 30043-5702
36%20 to 1$2,572.32667
22South Georgia Technical College900 South GA Tech Parkway,
Americus, Georgia 31709
57%16 to 1$4,225.56655
23Southeast Technical Institute2320 N Career Ave,
Sioux Falls, South Dakota 57107-1301
46%15 to 1$5,202.60649
24Georgia Piedmont Technical College495 N Indian Creek Dr,
Clarkston, Georgia 30021-2397
40%16 to 1$2,622.00640
25Marion Technical College1467 Mount Vernon Ave,
Marion, Ohio 43302-5694
22%11 to 1$3,942.40637
26Renton Technical College3000 NE Fourth St,
Renton, Washington 98056-4123
63%14 to 1$5,077.80633
27Moraine Park Technical College235 N National Avenue,
Fond du Lac, Wisconsin 54936-1940
58%16 to 1$3,951.57631
28Western Iowa Tech Community College4647 Stone Ave,
Sioux City, Iowa 51102-5199
30%17 to 1$3,738625
29Wichita State University-Campus of Applied Sciences and Technology4004 N Webb Rd. Bldg 100,
Wichita, Kansas 67226
43%16 to 1$6,517.47618
30Aims Community College5401 W. 20th St.,
Greeley, Colorado 80634
26%16 to 1$2,838.68617
31Rend Lake College468 N Ken Gray Pkwy,
Ina, Illinois 62846
58%17 to 1$3,750616
32Clark College1933 Fort Vancouver Way,
Vancouver, Washington 98663-3598
25%13 to 1$3,672.90610
33Lake Washington Institute of Technology11605 132nd Ave NE,
Kirkland, Washington 98034-8506
34%12 to 1$4,261.95605
34South Arkansas Community College300 S West Ave,
El Dorado, Arkansas 71731-7010
21%15 to 1$2,425.20598
35Northern Maine Community College33 Edgemont Dr,
Presque Isle, Maine 04769-2016
45%12 to 1$3,394.72598
36San Jacinto Community College8060 Spencer Hwy,
Pasadena, Texas 77505
28%17 to 1$3,113.70596
37Black River Technical College1410 Hwy 304 East,
Pocahontas, Arkansas 72455
27%15 to 1$2,497588
38Everett Community College2000 Tower Street,
Everett, Washington 98201
35%15 to 1$3,830.40580
39White Mountains Community College2020 Riverside Drive,
Berlin, New Hampshire 03570
49%7 to 1$7,711.20580
40Lake Land College5001 Lake Land Blvd,
Mattoon, Illinois 61938
42%20 to 1$7,613579
41Danville Area Community College2000 E Main St,
Danville, Illinois 61832-5118
34%17 to 1$7,275566
42San Juan College4601 College Blvd,
Farmington, New Mexico 87402-4699
24%17 to 1$1,385.56563
43Spoon River College23235 North County 22,
Canton, Illinois 61520-8622
41%16 to 1$9,390561
44Phoenix College1202 W Thomas Rd,
Phoenix, Arizona 85013
18%18 to 1$2,010.24556
45Minnesota State Community and Technical College1414 College Way,
Fergus Falls, Minnesota 56537-1000
36%19 to 1$5,177.86551
46Central Arizona College8470 N Overfield Rd,
Coolidge, Arizona 85128-9030
15%16 to 1$2,419.20548
47Santa Barbara City College721 Cliff Drive,
Santa Barbara, California 93109-2394
35%27 to 1$1,538.88548
48Olney Central College305 N West Street,
Olney, Illinois 62450
59%13 to 1$9,399545
49Hagerstown Community College11400 Robinwood Dr,
Hagerstown, Maryland 21742-6514
37%17 to 1$5,755.20540
50East Los Angeles College1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez,
Monterey Park, California 91754-6099
31%30 to 1$1,366.40536
51Mountwest Community and Technical CollegeOne Mountwest Way,
Huntington, West Virginia 25701
20%15 to 1$3,421.44533
52Gogebic Community CollegeE4946 Jackson Rd,
Ironwood, Michigan 49938
37%15 to 1$5,503.74533
53Anoka Technical College1355 Highway 10 West,
Anoka, Minnesota 55303
31%18 to 1$5,367.98530
54Terra State Community College2830 Napoleon Rd,
Fremont, Ohio 43420-9670
24%12 to 1$3,769.92529
55Hawkeye Community College1501 E Orange Rd,
Waterloo, Iowa 50701
26%17 to 1$4,259.54527
56Great Falls College Montana State University2100 16th Ave S,
Great Falls, Montana 59405
16%15 to 1$2,973.50521
57Ozarks Technical Community College1001 E. Chestnut Expressway,
Springfield, Missouri 65802
30%17 to 1$3,664.32516
58William Rainey Harper College1200 W Algonquin Rd,
Palatine, Illinois 60067-7398
29%19 to 1$9,528511
59Hutchinson Community College1300 N Plum St,
Hutchinson, Kansas 67501
38%18 to 1$2,933.44510
60Milwaukee Area Technical College700 W State St,
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53233-1443
11%12 to 1$4,116.18508
61Lincoln Land Community College5250 Shepherd Rd,
Springfield, Illinois 62794-9256
31%19 to 1$5,784500
62North Idaho College1000 West Garden Avenue,
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814-2199
23%14 to 1$4,300.32493
63Ridgewater College2101 15th Ave NW,
Willmar, Minnesota 56201
43%20 to 1$5,208.90493
64Washington State Community College710 Colegate Dr,
Marietta, Ohio 45750
25%12 to 1$3,960492
65Olympic College1600 Chester Ave,
Bremerton, Washington 98337-1699
21%19 to 1$3,798.90490
66Ivy Tech Community College50 W. Fall Creek Parkway N. Drive,
Indianapolis, Indiana 46208-5752
16%17 to 1$3,757.50488
67Lower Columbia College1600 Maple Street,
Longview, Washington 98632-0310
28%14 to 1$4,337.55488
68Lansing Community College419 N Capitol Ave,
Lansing, Michigan 48901-7210
18%12 to 1$5,877.60486
69Columbus State Community College550 E Spring St,
Columbus, Ohio 43215
21%19 to 1$3,351.04486
70Coastal Bend College3800 Charco Rd,
Beeville, Texas 78102
24%27 to 1$2,566.62486
71Saint Paul College235 Marshall Ave,
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55102-9808
28%27 to 1$5,294.26486
72Johnson County Community College12345 College Blvd,
Overland Park, Kansas 66210-1299
22%20 to 1$2,937486
73Central Texas College6200 West Central Texas Expressway,
Killeen, Texas 76549-4199
16%17 to 1$2,851.80480
74Paris Junior College2400 Clarksville St,
Paris, Texas 75460
32%24 to 1$3,492478
75Nunez Community College3710 Paris Rd,
Chalmette, Louisiana 70043
15%23 to 1$3,692.70467
76Spokane Community College1810 North Greene Street,
Spokane, Washington 99217-5399
26%20 to 1$3,562.65466
77Oakton Community College1600 E Golf Rd.,
Des Plaines, Illinois 60016-1268
22%15 to 1$9,746463
78Washtenaw Community College4800 E Huron River Dr,
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105-4800
16%18 to 1$3,615.84456
79College of Lake County19351 W Washington St.,
Grayslake, Illinois 60030-1198
28%18 to 1$8,736454
80Highland Community College2998 W Pearl City Rd,
Freeport, Illinois 61032-9341
33%14 to 1$5,655453
81Waubonsee Community CollegeRte 47 at Waubonsee Drive,
Sugar Grove, Illinois 60554-9454
31%22 to 1$7,230452
82Highline College2400 S 240th St,
Des Moines, Washington 98198-9800
30%14 to 1$4,043.55452
83Kishwaukee College21193 Malta Rd,
Malta, Illinois 60150-9699
29%18 to 1$8,160450
84University of Alaska Fairbanks505 South Chandalar Drive,
Fairbanks, Alaska 99775-7500
30%11 to 1$6,274.80447
85Quinebaug Valley Community College742 Upper Maple St,
Danielson, Connecticut 06239-1436
22%15 to 1$4,533.84443
86New Mexico State University-Dona Ana2800 N. Sonoma Ranch Blvd.,
Las Cruces, New Mexico 88011
15%21 to 1$1,849.92442
87Flathead Valley Community College777 Grandview Dr,
Kalispell, Montana 59901
24%11 to 1$5,211.70440
88South Texas College3201 W Pecan,
McAllen, Texas 78502-9701
15%22 to 1$3,773.30437
89Northern Essex Community College100 Elliott Street,
Haverhill, Massachusetts 01830-2399
18%19 to 1$5,062.56432
90Indiana University-Southeast4201 Grant Line Rd,
New Albany, Indiana 47150
32%14 to 1$6,365.70432
91Lamar Institute of Technology855 E Lavaca,
Beaumont, Texas 77705
23%16 to 1$4,397.98431
92Cape Cod Community College2240 Iyannough Rd,
West Barnstable, Massachusetts 02668
24%12 to 1$9,819.84429
93Springfield Technical Community College1 Armory Sq,
Springfield, Massachusetts 01105
21%15 to 1$6,080.16429
94Manchester Community College - New Hampshire1066 Front St,
Manchester, New Hampshire 03102
29%11 to 1$7,257.60428
95Holyoke Community College303 Homestead Ave,
Holyoke, Massachusetts 01040
23%15 to 1$4,772.12419
96Central Maine Community College1250 Turner Street,
Auburn, Maine 04210-6498
23%17 to 1$3,469.20419
97Laramie County Community College1400 E College Dr,
Cheyenne, Wyoming 82007-3299
27%15 to 1$3,173.76413
98City College of San Francisco50 Phelan Ave,
San Francisco, California 94112-1898
32%24 to 1$1,789.76412
99Canada College4200 Farm Hill Blvd.,
Redwood City, California 94061-1099
26%26 to 1$1,505.28411
100Grays Harbor College1620 Edward P Smith Drive,
Aberdeen, Washington 98520-7599
37%16 to 1$3,933.30410

Similar Careers in Allied Health

Billing/Coding Information by State

Step 2: Graduate from a medical billing and coding program

The second step in becoming a medical billing and coding specialist is to complete a formal training program that is accredited by either the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) or the Commission of Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management (CAHIIM). In order to become eligible to sit for one of the five nationally-recognized certification exams, you must earn a credential from a program recognized by one of these two national accrediting bodies.

Credentials awarded to medical billing and coding program graduates typically fall into three categories. A brief overview of each of these categories appears below.

Certificate & Diploma programs

Certificate and diploma programs are the most-common type of medical billing and coding training courses offered. These types of programs are offered by a variety of institutions, including: trade schools, community colleges and other vocational training centers.

The typical medical billing or coding certification course can usually be completed in 12 months or less, and awards a credential that qualifies the recipient for most entry-level positions in the industry.

See our guide for online medical billing and coding training.

Associate’s degree programs

Associate’s degree programs are also popular with students who wish to pursue a career in the billing and coding industry. These two-year courses differ from certificate and diploma programs in three important ways:

  • Duration (associate’s degree programs last twice as long)
  • Material covered (associate’s degree programs are more comprehensive)
  • Cost (associate’s degree programs usually have higher tuition and associated costs)

While the financial and time commitments required to complete an associate’s degree program are substantially higher than those for a certificate or diploma course, the rewards are usually higher as well. For example, many employers prefer to hire candidates with more education and also tend to compensate these individuals with higher pay.

Bachelor’s degree programs

The bachelor’s degree program is probably the least-common approach taken by aspiring billers and coders due to the amount of time and cost required to earn a degree. These four-year programs cover a wide range of academic material beyond simply billing and coding, and are offered by fewer institutions as well.

Nonetheless, this option can be appealing if your long-term career goal is to hold a management position in the health information or healthcare administration fields. Many employers require a four-year degree in a related discipline from any management candidate.

What to Look for in Billing and Coding Programs

There are several things you might want to consider before enrolling in a program. Taking the time to research the programs available to you can greatly enhance your chances of not only finding success in school, but also in your career.

The following is a list of the major factors you should consider when comparing programs.

1. Program Accreditation

There are two very important organizations that you should be aware of when looking for program accreditation: The CAHIIM and AAPC.

The Commission of Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) and American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) evaluate the curriculum, facilities and faculty at all medical billing and coding programs across the country. Their endorsement, given in the form of accreditation, indicates that a program satisfies the current industry and governmental standards for excellence in training.

Furthermore, only students who graduate from a program accredited by one of these two bodies are eligible to sit for one of the major national certification exams.

2. Course Availability

Everyone’s personal life and responsibilities are different. Some people looking into starting a program might be young, have no children, and few financial obligations. These students can afford the time it takes to enroll in a program that might be on campus, and require that students take on a full-time class load.

There are people who are deciding to start a program as a change of career in a life they have already started. These people might have children, mortgages to pay, or other responsibilities that would prohibit them from showing up to a campus every single day or taking a full-time class schedule load.

Thankfully there are many options. As stated before, there are online options that can be taken to cater to your schedule needs, and there are of course on campus options that require you be in class at certain times on certain days – no excuses.

Whatever your life’s current schedule looks like, make sure to examine it carefully before choosing a program. Pick the one that will aid you in excelling, not make your life even more hectic.

3. Cost

This factor is very similar to course availability. Some programs will be more expensive than others. Regardless of your financial situation when looking into enrolling in a program, it is important that you speak with a financial advisor who is affiliated with the program to discuss what payment options are available to you and if you can afford them.

Step 3: Complete an internship or get work experience

Completing an internship while studying billing and coding is an important part of the training process. Internships are usually unpaid, but allow students to gain actual working knowledge of the environment they are studying.

Despite the fact that these internships will take time, and offer no money in return, they look great on resumes. Internships are essentially a financial investment that allows possible employers to test a student’s abilities to make informed and important decisions on the job. For this reason, many programs state that an internship or some form of on the job work experience is a prerequisite before you can receive your certification.

Step 4: Take the certification exam and become certified

When all is said and done, and you have chosen a program, completed an internship or work experience, you will be required to take an exam. This exam, if passed, will award you the honor of being officially certified.

The Certified Professional Coder’s exam (CPC) is quite the undertaking, but also an amazing achievement to have on your resume as it shows an intense dedication to the field and is looked very highly upon by employers. There are 24 sections that this extensive exam covers, all pertaining to specific aspects of the medical industry. You will be expected to study and know all of them. The CPC can take over six hours to complete. It’s serious business, and it shows you mean serious business, too.

Finding a Job as a Biller or Coder

You’ve taken the courses, completed the internship, have some work experience under your belt, and have your medical billing and coding certification. You’re now one of the elites in your line of work, who are considered professionally prepared to take on the responsibilities that billing and coding entails.

So, what’s your next step? Well, you have to inch your way into the field now. Just like many other career fields, there are thousands of people doing the same thing as you right this very second. Due to this, your job is to do as much as you can at this point to make sure you stand out from the sea of applicants.

At this stage, some people consider undergoing secondary training or gaining more work experience in the field you are interested in working under as a biller or coder. For instance working at the front desk of a doctor’s office for a little while is not a bad idea. This, in itself, is a form medical records work and adds experience to your resume. A few other options to help you gain more experience and weight behind your resume are

  • Asking an already working professional biller or coder if you can shadow them for a day or two. Take notes and examine the process they go through on a day to day basis. This is a firsthand experience you can’t get in a classroom or online.
  • Calling local doctor’s offices or healthcare clinics, explain to them that you are looking for volunteering opportunities to gain some secondary work experience. Reaching out and making connections, as well as making yourself available is an important part of this field. Volunteering entails free work, meaning you gave your time willingly, which demonstrated dedication on resumes.

Where to Start Your Job Search

According to medicalbillingandcoding.org, aside from bolstering your resume, two of the best places to look for work in the billing and coding industry are two organizations we’ve already discussed, and you should be familiar with by this point; the AAPC (American Association of Professional Coders) and the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)

It cannot be stressed enough that reaching out and making connections are an important part of your role at this point. Get your profile set up on LinkedIn, politely ask people already working in the industry for advice, and be persistent.

Sites like careerbuilder.com are also great resources for individuals starting their search for a job in a specified field. Upload your resume onto this site and check it every day for updates and new job listings in the billing and coding field. Careerbuilder.com will also email you if potential job opportunities are listed that match your resume well.

Here are a few more sites that can aid you in landing an interview for a job in billing and coding

  • Indeed – another site very similar to careerbuilder.com. It includes a large database of job listings that are added according to the field. You can search through them and apply to as many as you like.
  • Monster – yet another site similar in function and style to Indeed and careerbuilder.com.
  • Simply Hired – This site features job listings that are a little more in depth. Their front page alone boasts “One search, millions of jobs.” This website allows you to enter advanced criteria into your search, like years of experience and level of schooling attained.
  • Government Jobs – If you would like to work for a federal or state funded clinic or hospital, then this website can help you locate one that’s hiring.

There is quite a few other legitimate job listing websites out there, and we recommend familiarizing yourself with all of them. However, before you upload a resume or input any personal information – like an email address or phone number – make sure you do a little research on the site. See what the reviews about it are saying. Just to make sure you aren’t signing yourself up for a ton of spam in your inbox.

What Type of Job Setting is Right for You?

Believe it or not, billers and coders that work in the medical industry do not all operate under the same conditions. Some working environments will be very mellow – like an independent physician’s office in a small town. Other environments can be hectic and very stressful; hospitals and urgent care centers can maintain this type of environment to billers and coders. Generally, however, no matter what type of medical facility you work in, it will be on-site. Meaning you’ll be right smack dab in the middle of all the action there in the office.

Due to this, you have to decide which working environment is right for you. You will also have to be open to possibly working in an environment you might not particularly like for a short time, as many new employees do when they first enter a field.

Luckily there are plenty of resources online that can help you determine which type of environment you want to work in. For instance on healthjobsstarthere.com “Job seekers can use a unique questionnaire, which assesses personality and work environment preferences to match candidates with potential employers.”

The general consensus is that regardless of what environment you end up working in, be it a calmer one or a hectic one, your responsibilities will most likely be about the same. It’s the volume of work, and the level of stress you are prepared to deal with that you want to assess within yourself before deciding which coding and billing environment is best for you.

That being said, get out there, bolster that resume, send it out to as many places as you can, and get to work! Landing the perfect job is about persistence, drive, and proper preparation. If you do end up landing an interview, out last bit of parting advice for you is that you make sure to do a little homework before walking into it. Research the facility you are interviewing for, what it is that they do, and make sure you understand what your role will be as a member of their team.

The National Employment Outlook for Billing and Coding

All Allied Health Schools has stated in a recent article that “The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17, the median expected annual salary for medical billers and coders is $35,900.” However, these earning will vary, as with almost all professions, according to the level of education you have, your experience in the field, and if you have a specialty within the field.

Another piece of useful information is the fact that there has been a recent change in the billing and coding programs used by doctors and healthcare providers. This system is called The Internal Classification of Diseases (ICD) and it is used to identify and properly code all the information pertaining to patients, their health, diagnosis’, procedures performed, and all other data needed to track an individual in the medical industry.

Before this change, the ICD-9 was being used to track all data. However, the ICD-10 is the current form of software being used, and this has caused a leap in demand for more billing and coding specialists, which is great news!

On top of this, you can trust that the demand for billing and coding specialists will continue to rise, as with the demand for all types of employment in the medical field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics claims that job opportunities and demand for any form of medical technician are expected to make an exponential growth leap of 15 percent through 2024. This is much faster than average for nearly any other career outlook in the US.