Guide to Starting a Career in Medical Coding & Billing

The healthcare industry isn’t just about doctors and nurses; there’s a wide array of allied health professions throughout the entire industry. One of the best parts is many of careers require two years or less of formal education. From healthcare administration to pharmacy assistance and medical transcription, there are a variety of choices for those interested in the healthcare field but who don’t want to work on the clinical side of things.

Medical coding and billing is one such allied health profession. As a medical biller and coder, you will be responsible for reviewing patient records and assigning codes to the diagnoses for the third-party insurance company. Most medical coders and billers work in a hospital setting, at nursing facilities, or physicians’ offices.

Medical coding and billing is a growing field, and there is a huge need for qualified medical coders. If this is the career choice for you, follow our step-by-step guide on how to start a career in medical coding and billing:

Step # 1
Learn about the profession
: Before jumping into any career, it’s important to collect as much information as you can. Find out what the work is like. Ask questions like: what kind of job prospects and advancement opportunities does the career offer? How much can I earn? What kind of environment do medical coding and billing specialists work in? What kind of skills do I need to enter the profession? Try and find someone from the industry to talk to you and answer any doubts or questions you may have.

Step #2
Enroll in a school
: Once you get a sense of what the profession involves, you can start looking for schools that offer training programs in medical coding and billing. The entry-level requirement for the profession is post-secondary education, so vocational training programs or an associate degree is a good start. Typically, medical coding and billing programs include courses in medical terminology, coding systems, healthcare reimbursement methods, anatomy and physiology, and health data requirements, just to name a few.

Step #3
Volunteer at a hospital
: You can learn a lot from the experience you get volunteering. Volunteering in a hospital or healthcare facility while you’re still in school will help you better understand their day-to-day operations and get an idea of how things work. This is the perfect opportunity to network within the Health Information Management (HIM) department and develop professional contacts.

Step #4
Get certified
: Many employers prefer to hire certified professionals. Several industry organizations offer certifications for medical coding and billing specialists. Two of the most popular credentials include the American Academy of Professional Coders’ (AAPC) Certified Professional Coder (CPC) and the American Health Information Management Association’s (AHIMA) Certified Coding Associate (CCA) certifications. Both of these credentials are awarded when the applicant passes the associated certification exam.

Step #5
Get a job
: That’s the whole point, right? A good way to do this is to look for a school that includes placement assistance services for their graduates. You should also put your resume on job sites as well as participate in professional networking forums to find more job opportunities. Get active in industry circles by networking with other professionals, attending seminars, and becoming a member of local chapters of professional organizations such as AAPC and AHIMA.

The number of jobs in the medical coding and billing industry continues to grow, and there is a need for qualified coders nationwide. There are lots of opportunities in medical coding and billing, and with the right education you can make this a successful career choice.

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