Gain the Skills You Need to be a Certified Medical Coder
Train with The University of Southern Mississippi for a career in medical coding and learn the specialized skills you need to assign the standardized codes used to bill for healthcare services. With over 37,000 new jobs* expected in this field by 2020, the rapidly expanding healthcare industry relies on these professionals.
Choose our training for:
- AHIMA-approved curriculum – Approved by the American Health Information Management Association, our medical coding training program has been shown to prepare students for national certification and employment.
- National certification preparation – Graduate prepared to earn your Certified Professional Coder (CPC) or Certified Coding Associate (CCA) credentials and prove you have the skills employers are looking for.
- Expert-designed and supported career training – Our program was built by AHIMA-Approved ICD-10-CM/PCS Trainers and other experts with decades of experience to ensure you gain the skills you need to excel in this field, and your instructors are available by phone, email, and chat to help you learn the material.
- Employer-trusted education – Some of the largest and most respected healthcare employers in the nation (including the leading provider of healthcare services in the U.S. and one of the nation's largest managed healthcare companies) are using this curriculum to train their employees! Choose training that even employers are using!
Our online Professional Medical Coding and Billing training is among the best, and you can successfully gain the skills you need to start your new career. Call 601-266-4186 or request free information today for more details!*U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics
- What is medical coding and billing?
Medical coding and billing is the process of translating information from patient records—treatments, tests, procedures, and diagnoses—into the standardized codes used to bill patients and third-party payers such as insurance companies and Medicare.
- What is the job market for medical coders and billers?
The U.S. Department of Labor's 2012-2013 report on the medical records and health information technology field, which encompasses both medical coders and medical billers. The report predicts:
- A growing job market as industry employment is projected to grow by 21% from 2010 to 2020. In addition to these new jobs, there will also be open positions as people retire or leave the profession.
- A high demand for coding services, sustained by an aging population and the increasing number of tests, treatments, and procedures.
In addition to this growth, there is also already an existing shortage of medical coding professionals. This shortage is estimated to be about 30% and is expected to increase to at least 53% with the industry's shift to ICD-10.
- What is ICD-10 and how will it affect the medical coding industry?
Medical coders use a number of standardized code sets. One of these, ICD-9, will be transitioning to ICD-10 on October 1, 2014. All healthcare and insurance facilities must transition to the new code set on that date, and this is a huge undertaking as the number of codes is increasing (from about 17,000 ICD-9 codes to over 155,000 ICD-10 codes), the specificity of the codes is increasing, and there are thousands of personnel that need to be trained on the new code set in addition to updating all of the systems that are in place.
As a new student, it's important for you to start learning the ICD-10 code set now. This will allow you to earn your credential (the CCA exam will switch to ICD-10 on April 1, 2014 and the CPC exam will switch on January 1, 2015) and jump right into your first job ready to code in ICD-10.
- How much can I earn as a medical coding and billing professional?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report—encompassing both inpatient and outpatient medical coders and billers—states that the middle 50% of professionals in the field earn between $25,570 and $42,170 a year. However, it is important to remember that as you gain credentials and experience, your earning capacity increases. Industry organizations have published the following average salary information.
American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)
This recent survey reports the average coder salaries by credentials offered by AHIMA. Career Step graduates are eligible to sit for the CCA credential directly after graduation. CCA certified coders have a reported annual salary of $40,196.
American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC)
This recent survey is more focused on outpatient coding and reports that entry-level, certified coders earn $34,551 annually, while those who have earned the CPC credential (which Career Step graduates are eligible to sit for directly after graduation) earn an average of $45,347 annually.
- Do I have to be certified?
The Career Step courses are specifically designed to prepare students for national, entry-level coding certification exams, even though certification is not always a prerequisite for employment. The exams most commonly taken directly after graduation by Career Step graduates are the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) exam offered by the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) and the Certified Coding Associate (CCA) exam offered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).
Although graduating from a Career Step medical coding and billing training program does not automatically award you a coding credential, the courses are specifically designed to help you gain the foundation and skills you need to earn the appropriate credentials. In a recent Career Step survey, 90% of respondents who had taken a certification exam after graduation from Career Step's training programs reported passing the exam and earning their credential.
- What are the advantages of training with Career Step?
Career Step has been providing quality healthcare education for over 20 years, and we've trained over 13,000 medical coding students since 2004. Our online training format allows you to study at your own pace and on a schedule that fits your busy lifestyle. Our Professional Medical Coding and Billing course is:
- AHIMA approved – One of the only online certificate programs approved by AHIMA, this approval assures you that Career Step's program has been evaluated by the largest professional association in the industry and they determined that program graduates are well prepared to earn their credentials and start working at entry-level medical coders.
- Expert-designed – Our program was built by AHIMA-Approved ICD-10-CM/PCS Trainers as well as a number of other experts who have decades of experience working in and teaching medical coding to ensure you gain the skills you need to excel in this field.
- Employer trusted – Some of the largest and more respected healthcare employers in the nation (including the leading provider of healthcare services in the U.S. and one of the nation's largest managed healthcare companies) are using Career Step's curriculum to train their employees! Choose training that even employers are using!
- What kind of skills and experience do I need to enter the Career Step program?
In order to be admitted, you must be at least 18 years of age and have a high school diploma or a General Education Development Certificate (GED). There are no specific skills or experience that are considered prerequisites for entry into the Career Step training program.
- How is the Career Step program structured?
The Career Step program is offered entirely online, providing 24/7 access to all material and allowing you to progress through the curriculum on your own schedule and at your own pace. The program is broken into modules, or course subjects, and has been designed by AHIMA-Approved ICD-10-CM/PCS Trainers as well as a number of other experts with decades of experience working in and teaching medical coding. This experience has led us to a 3-part program design:
- Foundations – This first section of the program will teach you things like computer fundamentals, the health information management process, and reimbursement methodologies to ensure you thoroughly understand how medical coding fits within healthcare and have the basics down.
- Biomedical sciences – In order to correctly assign codes, you'll need a good understanding of medical terminology, anatomy, pathophysiology, and pharmacology, and this section of the course teaches all of that from a coding perspective.
- Code training – This final section introduces you to all of the different code sets and teaches you how to use them. You'll practice coding actual medical records and reports (provided by our employer partners) and use the 3M encoding software so you have lots of hands-on experience and graduate ready to earn your credential and start working.
We've specifically designed the Professional Medical Coding and Billing course to ensure you gain exactly the skills you need to start working as a medical coder.
- What type of student support does Career Step offer?
Career Step student support includes access to:
- Student Support Instructors and Advisors have professional experience in the industry and are uniquely qualified to answer questions about both the curriculum and the industry. They provide timely answers to questions about the program material and offer a number of personal consultations throughout the training to help students master important concepts.
- Technical Support Advisors are knowledgeable, experienced, and available six days a week to help you work through any technical or computer issues encountered within the training program.
- Graduate Support Advisors help you transition to the workforce after graduation. Your Graduate Advisors will help prepare the best resume, develop solid interview skills, and teach you valuable job search techniques.
Though the course is entirely online, you'll never be on your own. Career Step's student support team is available to offer personal, ongoing support all the way through the training program.
- How long does it take to finish the course?
The AHIMA-approved Professional Medical Coding and Billing program includes 635 hours of curriculum. Since the program is completely self-paced and the online training format allows you the flexibility to study as much or as little as your schedule allows, the time it takes you to complete the course will vary from other students. Some students are able to complete their training program in as little as 4 months (working on the course full-time, 8 hours a day 5 days a week) and others, who are more limited in the time they can devote to the course, take longer (for example, students who can devote about 20 hours a week may finish in about 8 months).
Every student who enrolls in Career Step's Professional Medical Coding and Billing program receives an initial 12-month period of enrollment. Though the programs are designed to be completed in 4 months of full-time study, you'll have a full year to complete your training. If you need extra time to complete the course after your initial one-year enrollment, we have 4-month extensions available for purchase.
- How do I find work after graduation?
Career Step offers personalized, post-graduation resources for your job search, including:
- Personal consultation with a Graduate Advisor
- New job opening notifications
- Personalized interview tutorials and training
- Individual resume and cover letter review, tips, and advice
- Access to Career Step's help hotline for a full year after graduation
These resources offer the personalized help you need after graduation to transition to the workplace. With this individualized help and attention, the majority of our graduates are hired within a few months of graduation.
- What materials and computer specifications are required to complete the course?
Your enrollment includes everything you will need to train for a successful career in medical coding and billing. Your enrollment includes:
- Access to expert-created curriculum
- 4 printed textbooks
- Complete library of industry standard codebooks
- Access to 3M encoding software
- Online access to the 3M reference library (includes over $1500 worth of references)
- One-on-one help from student and technical support
- Valuable graduate resources
Since the course is completely online, your computer will play an important role in your learning experience. We recommend the following minimum computer system specifications:
- Active internet connection (High speed/Broadband connection recommended)
- 800 X 600 minimum resolution (1024 X 768 or higher recommended)
- Sound card and speakers (Earphones recommended)
- Available USB port
- Adobe Flash Player (ver. 10 or higher)
- Windows Media Player (ver. 10 or higher) or Quicktime Player (ver. 7 or higher)
- PDF reader
- Internet Explorer 7.x/8.x/9.x
- Microsoft Windows (XP®, Vista®, 7 with latest service pack)
Note: Mobile browsing devices are not currently supported. However, Career Step is investigating the implementation of mobile device support, and these specifications will be updated once a decision has been reached.
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- "I love Career Step! When I enrolled, I thought that this was going to be a hard, lonely road. I was wrong. When I enrolled, I joined a team and gained a family. I was never alone. If I needed help or had a question, all I had to do was email student support or post on the forum. Everybody was so friendly and knowledgeable. They always gave you the feeling that they were only there for one reason—to see you succeed." Read More Reviews »
- "I never thought an online teaching program would work for me, but . . . it taught me the discipline needed to be successful in the industry. I am looking forward to working in this field very much. Thank you!" Read More Reviews »
- "I researched schools for two years before signing up for the Medical Billing and Coding course with Career Step. I wanted to make sure I received training from a school that would set me apart from other candidates. . . . I have noticed that recruiters are highly impressed with my skills, and even though I recently graduated, I have several job opportunities in the works! . . . Thank you Career Step!" Read More Reviews »
- "Career Step has provided me with a wonderful opportunity to start a new career. Thanks to the intense course, I feel confident in starting my new career. . . . I know I would not be able to do this work if your course had not been so complete." Read More Reviews »
- "We've hired a number of Career Step graduates, and we've been very happy with the quality of the work that they've done at our organization. We love the way that the program tests and evaluates them along the process, and it's really helped us select those who are really shining stars." Read More Reviews »