According to the latest data from bls.gov and nces.ed.gov, accredited medical billing and coding programs in California are going to have their work cut out satisfy the increasing demand for medical coders and billers. We show the steps to get started and what it will take to finish your education process. Lets get started today!
Becoming a medical coder or biller in California
As is the case throughout the United States, the medical billing and coding profession in Alabama is regulated on a national level. The certifying bodies are listed below
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 coder or biller in California?
The process for becoming a medical biller or coder in California is summarized below.
Step 1 – Do you want to get certified?
The initial step you need to take is to consider whether or not you’re planning to become certified, and the professional education it’ll require. Not only can this choice impact the employment opportunities you will be able to apply for, but it’ll also determine the amount of time it’ll take before you are able to start working.
As you can probably assume, deciding to take some time to get certified provides several considerable advantages. Thanks to the amount of litigation that medical providers face and the related rise in insurance premiums, the majority of employers now want their medical billing and coding specialists to have a certification.
This is additionally true for employers who have traditionally hired non-certified staff. In these instances, it’s now very typical for the employer to ask their medical billing and coding staff members to register for training and get their certification in order to continue to be employed.
If you still choose against getting your certification, then the next step is to begin applying for employment opportunities for non-certified medical billing and coding specialists. The balance of the process described in this guide only applies if you have made the decision to get certified.
Step 2 – Finish the necessary education
There are three different kinds of credentials that may be earned by graduating from a formal medical billing and coding course – a diploma (or “certificate”, as they are also called), two-year associate degree, and a four-year bachelor’s degree. Either kind of credential is accepted by the majority of employers, but you should be cognizant of the disadvantages and advantages of each.
Diplomas and Certificates
Diploma or certificate programs can oftentimes be completed in 12 months or less, and target their curriculum entirely on the competencies and knowledge necessary to begin your career. Due to the fact that these are typically the most-popular kind of programs with students, they are typically provided both on-campus and online by a range of schools. By comparison, associate and bachelor’s degree programs call for pupils to take other classes in non-related fields.
If your main career goal is to advance into a specialized field of medicine or a professional-level position, two-year associate degree programs are usually the best way to go. Admission prerequisites and costs for these courses are more substantial since they are usually offered by either junior colleges or trade schools.
Having an associate degree can offer a number of benefits that one might not enjoy with only a certificate or diploma, however.
For students who want to build the strongest understanding of coding and billing, while at the same time pursuing a nicely balanced education, bachelor’s degree courses are typically the best option. Since these programs are provided exclusively by four-year educational institutions and trade programs, the expense of obtaining this degree is typically much greater.
Holding a bachelor’s degree is frequently viewed by employers as a huge asset, and one could frequently anticipate higher salary and responsibilities because of this.
Regardless of the approach you decide on, make sure to base your decision on your extended professional objectives and financial circumstances. In the event you need to start your career right away, and are concerned about college tuition fees, then the diploma program might be the right choice. Many medical coding and billing specialists elect to return to school in the future and get a degree after starting out with a diploma or certificate, so keep this option in mind as well.
Should you have a definite long-term professional objective on your mind, however, then committing to an associate degree program can be the best choice.
How to pick a coding and billing program
Medical billing and coding programs in California are mandated by state law to be approved by several groups including the Commission of Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) and the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC). In order for you to become eligible to test for certification, you will need to first graduate from a training course that is authorized by one of these bodies. Click on the links to search for accredited training.
There are several things you should consider if you are choosing a program to attend. When comparing your possible choices, you should take the following into consideration:
- Attend training that is accredited by CAHIIM or AAPC
- Get the % of course grads passed their certification exam
- Fit courses and studies into your personal schedule
- Get costs to fit your budget
Just like any decision, you need to initially determine what your main concerns are. If the cost of classes is the most crucial factor to you, make that the first thing you learn about a program. Next, go on to the second-most significant thing (e.g. class availability, etc.) and use that criteria to further narrow your choices.
Return to this approach with every criteria that’s essential for you, and you’ll eventually have just a couple of programs to make a choice between. Making sure that the course you go with suits your personal circumstances can tremendously boost your chances of graduating.
Step 3 – Finish an internship or accumulate some job experience
A prerequisite for most coding and billing certification exams is that the test-taker needs to have previously completed job experience or completed a professional internship. Consequently, it is strongly suggested that you either find an internship or a non-certified training position during your schooling.
Many accredited medical billing and coding programs make it possible for students setup internships with community businesses. It’s highly recommended that you talk to your educator to determine which opportunities are available to help you to get the experience needed to become approved for certification evaluation.
Step 4 – Finish the official certification process
In the State of California, you’ll be legally required to pass one of the nationally-administered tests for medical coding and billing certification. The exams consist of segments on all major areas of knowledge you would’ve studied in your training program.
Several of the major national certification assessments recognized in California are outlined below.
Certified Professional Coder (CPC) and Certified Professional Biller (CPB) from AAPC – Undoubtedly one of the most-recognized, and most-valued of the medical billing and coding certifications, the CPC and CPB credentials are provided by the AAPC.
Certified Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS) from NHA – The NHA credential is recognized by businesses throughout the nation, and indicates that its holder has a wide-ranging set of medical billing and coding competencies.
Certified Coding Associate (CCA) from AHIMA – The CCA certificate is a nationally-respected certification that qualifies its holder for a broad variety of jobs in medical coding.
Insurance and Coding Specialist (NCICS) from NCCA – The NCICS credential symbolizes a chosen specialization in the skills required to excel in the billing and coding world.
Certified Medical Billing Specialist (CMBS) and Certified Medical Records Technician (CMRT) from MAB – The CMBS and CMRT credentials symbolize advanced proficiencies in the responsibilities that are required to take care of the record-keeping and insurance billing at a medical facility’s office.
Medical coder and biller salary and jobs in California
There is a very high demand for medical billing and coding specialists around the country and in California. Through 2024, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 20% growth in additional opportunities for medical billing and coding specialists in California. The bulk of new opportunities are likely to be created in hospitals and physicians offices. The balance of openings may appear in the state and federal government job market.
The potential to become acquainted with EHRs (electronic health records) makes the medical coding and billing profession a good choice for people considering advancing into other roles in the health information industry.
To review salary information for California by location and county, please take a look at the table below.
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA MSA||Hourly||$15.86||$27.19||$48.34|
|Redding, CA MSA||Hourly||$12.08||$25.51||$35.53|
|San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, CA Metropolitan Division||Hourly||$15.66||$24.72||$37.86|
|Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA MSA||Hourly||$13.17||$24.36||$40.66|
|Oakland-Fremont-Hayward, CA Metropolitan Division||Hourly||$14.34||$23.51||$39.63|
|Vallejo-Fairfield, CA MSA||Hourly||$16.48||$23.34||$40.81|
|Sacramento--Arden-Arcade--Roseville, CA MSA||Hourly||$14.11||$23.13||$38.11|
|Salinas, CA MSA||Hourly||$14.12||$23.12||$37.06|
|Northern Mountains Region (BOS)||Hourly||$11.97||$22.44||$30.91|
|Napa, CA MSA||Hourly||$17.43||$22.29||$40.42|
|San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA MSA||Hourly||$12.73||$21.37||$36.49|
|Bakersfield-Delano, CA MSA||Hourly||$12.75||$21.32||$35.89|
|Mother Lode Region (BOS)||Hourly||$15.79||$21.25||$24.44|
|Stockton, CA MSA||Hourly||$12.45||$20.54||$31.39|
|Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA MSA||Hourly||$13.46||$20.49||$35.81|
|Merced, CA MSA||Hourly||$11.90||$19.86||$26.16|
|Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA MSA||Hourly||$13.03||$19.81||$36.33|
|Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA Metropolitan Division||Hourly||$12.56||$19.44||$37.71|
|Madera-Chowchilla, CA MSA||Hourly||$11.51||$18.82||$28.49|
|Santa Rosa-Petaluma, CA MSA||Hourly||$13.99||$18.62||$31.00|
|Modesto, CA MSA||Hourly||$12.17||$18.24||$33.47|
|San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, CA MSA||Hourly||$12.88||$18.22||$28.40|
|Visalia-Porterville, CA MSA||Hourly||$12.19||$17.82||$26.10|
|Chico, CA MSA||Hourly||$12.27||$17.02||$30.08|
|Fresno, CA MSA||Hourly||$11.61||$16.69||$25.39|
|Yuba City, CA MSA||Hourly||$12.50||$16.50||$23.37|
|North Coast Region (BOS)||Hourly||$12.40||$15.98||$25.39|
|El Centro, CA MSA||Hourly||$10.51||$15.01||$25.40|