If you would like to become a medical coding specialist, you can start a career in the healthcare industry that is among the fastest-growing in the country with medical billing and coding classes in Alabama. The time to enroll is now because the growth of the career is at an all time high. See the details below.

Becoming a medical coder or biller in Alabama

Although medical billers and coders are not required by law to hold a certification in order to work in Alabama, most of the state’s employers do prefer to hire certified individuals. As is the case throughout the United States, the medical billing and coding profession in Alabama is regulated on a national level.

Certifications for billing and coding are recognized from several different national bodies. Employers in the state recognize a wide range of certifications from the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), National Healthcare Association (NHA), American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), and the Medical Association of Billers (MAB).

What is the process for becoming a certified billing and coding specialist in Alabama?

The process for becoming a medical biller or coder in Alabama can be summarized in the following four steps.

Step 1 – Decide if you plan to become certified

Making a decision whether or not to get certified is the first step you’ll want to take if you’d like to begin a career as a medical billing and coding specialist. This choice could impact your future in two ways: the types of jobs you’ll be eligible to apply for, and how long it’ll take for you to become employed.

Not surprisingly, there are many more advantages than disadvantages to holding a certification. Being certified is also becoming viewed as a necessity by some facilities who regard it as a means to safeguard their practices against potential litigation and increasing insurance rates.

Even medical institutions that retain the services of non-certified medical coding and billing specialists are starting to change their stances. In such instances, it is now quite common for the workplace to require their medical billing and coding staff to enroll in training and get their certification so as to remain employed.

Nonetheless, it is possible to begin looking for a job as a non-certified medical billing and coding specialist immediately should you have opted against signing up for professional education. The remainder of the process outlined in this guide only applies if you make the choice to get certified.

Step 2 – Finish the necessary education

Medical billing and coding programs award a few different types of credentials to their graduates: an associate-level degree, a bachelor’s degree, and a diploma (alternately referred to as a “certificate”). Even though each credential can make you eligible for entry-level medical coding and billing positions, there are a number of significant distinctions between them.

Diplomas and Certificates

The traditional program that awards a certificate or diploma usually lasts roughly 12-15 months and concentrates only on getting students ready to manage the routine tasks of a biller or coder.

These courses are offered at a wide range of institutions, and may also be provided online. In contrast, associate and bachelor’s degree programs call for pupils to take extra courses in non-related fields.offered both on-campus and online through a wide variety of institutions.

Associate Degree

Geared toward students who want to work in specialized settings and advance into other roles, associate degree programs are comprehensive and last at least two years. As traditional degree programs, coursework for this credential is typically provided by junior colleges and vocational schools.

However, with the additional commitment necessary to get an associate degree, comes an even greater number of benefits.

Bachelor’s Degree

Bachelor’s degree programs typically last a minimum of four years, and expect students to acquire a profound command of medical billing and coding theory, and additional basic college material. Since these programs are offered solely by four-year colleges and vocational programs, the cost of getting this credential is typically significantly greater.

Those who earn bachelor’s degrees in coding and billing are typically regarded as future management prospects and are commonly compensated like it.

No matter the option you choose, be certain that you base your choice on your long-term career aspirations and financial situation. In the event you have to begin your career as soon as possible, and are worried about tuition fees, then the diploma program is probably the best choice. Many medical coding and billing specialists elect to go back to school in the future and earn a degree after starting with a diploma, so bear this in mind as well.

The best option is typically the associate or bachelor’s degree in situations when you have a precise career objective which will require a degree at some time.

How to decide on a billing and coding program

Medical coding and billing education in Alabama is governed by the Commission of Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) and the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC). For you to become able to challenge for certification, you need to first finish a training program that is approved by one of these organizations. Click on a link above to search accredited programs.

It is very important to look for a few things when figuring out where to register for courses. When comparing your options, you need to take these factors into account:

  • Find courses accredited by CAHIIM or AAPC
  • Find out what percentage of course graduates passed their certification exam
  • Make certain that classes fit into your personal schedule
  • Verify that the programs cost fits within your budget

Much like any decision, you have to initially establish what your main concerns are. If, for example, the cost of tuition is the most critical issue to you, that should be the first thing you learn about each program. You should then consider the second-most important thing to help narrow the list down a little bit more.

Using this approach, it’s easy to cut your options down to only a couple of schools. Ensuring that the program you decide on suits your personal situation can greatly improve your likelihood of graduating.

Step 3 – Complete an internship or acquire work experience

A precondition for almost all medical billing and coding certification examinations is that the test-taker needs to have already had work experience or completed a formal internship. To be able to meet this prerequisite, you will want to consider finishing an internship or being employed in a non-certified job for a community medical employer prior to the conclusion of your education program.

Local companies oftentimes work hand in hand with accredited billing and coding programs to help setup internships or job experience for students. Nonetheless, it’s a good idea to find out as soon as you can if your program will assist you with this certification examination requirement.

Step 4 – Pass the certification examination

Medical billing and coding specialists in Alabama must pass one of the five national certification exams in order to finish their certification. The examinations include sections on all major areas of knowledge you would’ve covered in your training program.

The most-popular main national certification exams recognized in Alabama are listed here.

Certified Professional Coder (CPC) and Certified Professional Biller (CPB) from AAPC – The well-known, highly-respected national certifications are sponsored by the AAPC and are recognized by just about {all organizations}.

Certified Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS) from NHA – The NHA certificate is well known by facilities throughout the United States, and indicates that its holder possesses a comprehensive collection of medical billing and coding skills.

Certified Coding Associate (CCA) from AHIMA – The Certified Coding Associate (CCA) is presented to graduates who have finished a diversified program in medical coding training, and is recognized by almost all organizations.

Insurance and Coding Specialist (NCICS) from NCCA – The Insurance and Coding Specialist (NCICS) grants a certification for medical billing and coding specialists.

Certified Medical Billing Specialist (CMBS) and Certified Medical Records Technician (CMRT) from MAB – The CMBS and Certified Medical Records Technician (CMRT) national credentials symbolize advanced expertise in the tasks that are required to be able to maintain the billing and record-keeping at a medical facility’s office.

Medical coder and biller salary and jobs in Alabama

The demand for medical coding and billing specialists is at record levels in not only Alabama, but throughout the whole U.S. Through 2024, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 14.7% growth in new jobs for medical coding and billing specialists in Alabama. Popular workplaces are: general care facilities, hospitals and physicians offices. The balance of opportunities may surface in the government job sector.

Thanks to the rapid growth of electronic health records (EHRs) inside the healthcare community, the medical coding and billing profession is quite popular for people thinking about working in health information.

To view salary information for Alabama by location and county, please check out the table below.

LocationPay TypeLowMedianHigh
United StatesHourly$10.99$15.17$21.78
Birmingham-Hoover, AL MSAHourly$10.36$13.85$19.95
Tuscaloosa, AL MSAHourly$9.68$13.42$17.79
Auburn-Opelika, AL MSAHourly$10.36$13.19$17.87
Montgomery, AL MSAHourly$9.77$13.11$17.25
Decatur, AL MSAHourly$9.84$12.99$17.37
Huntsville, AL MSAHourly$10.23$12.83$15.90
Dothan, AL MSAHourly$9.93$12.62$16.26
Columbus, GA-AL MSAHourly$9.77$12.60$17.05
Northwest Alabama BOSHourly$8.67$12.41$17.25
Northeast Alabama BOSHourly$9.32$12.27$17.55
Gadsden, AL MSAHourly$9.52$11.97$15.78
Southwest Alabama BOSHourly$8.22$11.96$17.52
Anniston-Oxford, AL MSAHourly$8.33$11.80$18.19
Mobile, AL MSAHourly$9.60$11.59$15.49
Southeast Alabama BOSHourly$8.53$11.42$16.33
Florence-Muscle Shoals, AL MSAHourly$8.44$11.36$15.03