Medical Coding and Billing Career: Is It Right For You?

Posted on 07.23.2019

Medical billing and coding are two of the fastest-growing careers in the medical field that don’t require a medical degree. While both can be great jobs to have, you might be wondering if becoming a medical biller and coder is right for you. Check out what a medical biller and coder does, and if it feels like a good fit.

While both medical billing and medical coding are careers that are in healthcare administration, the roles of each are vastly different. Medical coders translate patient care from physicians into CPT (current procedural terminology) codes. Their main focus is to make sure that the medical services that are provided to a patient are recorded and accurately coded.

A medical biller, on the other hand, is responsible for working with the codes a medical coder provides and creating a claim for billing and insurance purposes. They make sure that the hospital, physician’s office, or medical establishment gets the highest reimbursement possible for an insurance claim. They have to understand how insurance companies work and determine claims.

In some offices, they choose to hire one person to cover both positions, but in some locations, the medical biller and medical coder are different positions.

Benefits of Working as a Medical Biller or Medical Coder

There is a high demand in the medical field for qualified and experienced medical billers and medical coders. That means that once you go through a quick certification and training course, you can quickly find a job that works for you. These jobs are also great because, with very little training, you can earn a high hourly salary.


Medical billing is a job in high demand. Across the country, everything from private practices to large hospitals all need certified medical billers. There is a nationwide shortage of medical billers and the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the market’s need for qualified medical billers will continue to increase much faster than the average job.

What is the difference between medical coding and medical billing?

A medical coder interprets medical treatments and translates them to official codes, while a medical biller takes those codes and files claims for the treatment given. A medical coder is much more focused on numbers and the insurance fees and costs of treatment than the actual treatment.

What is it like to be a medical biller?

Depending on the company or practice that you are working for, the workday for a medical biller can be very different. For most, you have to start in an office and establish your expertise and knowledge of the field first, and then the office you are working for might offer a work at home option.

There are occasionally offers and positions that do allow you to do the entire job from your home at the start, but they are rare and sometimes not reputable jobs—and should definitely be researched before you become invested in them.

Is learning medical billing difficult?

Some people are worried that medical billing might be too difficult to learn. Becoming trained in medical billing takes anywhere from a few months to as long as two years to complete. A large part of your success in medical billing depends on your own investment in the courses and training that you are receiving.

Medical billing deals with regulations and money, so if numbers and figures are not your thing, it might not be a good fit for you.

What is required for education and certification?

Training and certification are required to work in medical billing. There are various programs online and at universities that can give you the training that you need to become a medical biller. CareerStep provides an online certification program that allows you to take courses at your own pace.

A minimum education of a high school diploma or GED equivalency is required before additional training. Other than the educational requirements, there are no age restrictions to work as a medical biller.

The standards of insurance companies, as well as the legal requirements for patient information and security, are constantly evolving. With those changes, you are required to keep up to speed with those advancements.

How much is the average pay for a medical biller?

The average pay for a medical biller is around $16 hourly. This rate can change depending on the location that you are working in and the company that you are working for, as well as your experience and education.

What is the competition like with this job choice?

Depending on the location that you live in, the competition in this field can be very fierce, or not exist at all. In general, for most markets, there is not an extreme amount of competition for a job opening. The biggest thing a medical office is looking for is that you have the education that is needed to do the job, and that your personality fits with their office environment.

Is medical billing a stressful job?

Medical billing can be a stressful job for some. The deadlines and pacing of the work does require some getting used to, but it is not overwhelming or excessive.


Medical coding is in high demand in a growing medical field. Trained professionals are needed in offices, practices, and hospitals across the country. A medical coder is an important connection between the doctor that a patient worked with, and the billing and insurance process of healthcare.

What is it like to be a medical coder?

A medical coder reviews a patient’s medical records from the physician or doctor and then assigns codes to diagnoses and procedures performed. This requires knowledge of medical procedures and practices and puts a medical coder in direct contact with doctors and physicians.

Is learning medical coding difficult?

Depending on your own investment and skills, becoming a medical coder does not have to be difficult. Medical coders convert complex medical information into a set of codes. To do this, a medical coder has to be able to remember the codes as well as the meaning and use of each code.

Being a medical coder requires you to be accurate in everything that you do, while still paying attention to the small details. For some people, it is not difficult to achieve that high level of attention to detail and becoming a medical coder is easy.

What are the requirements to become a medical coder?

A medical degree is not required as part of this career, but a training certificate is required or preferred by almost all employers.

There are a variety of schools and programs that provide ways for you to become certified as a medical coder, each with a different set of requirements for both time and money. CareerStep’s online medical coding and billing program is designed to be completed in only four months of full-time study. But, we know that you might not be able to dedicate a full-time schedule to study, so we allow you to finish the program at your own pace, up to 12 months.

To get into a certification program, you will need a high school diploma or a GED equivalency. Because the insurance and medical fields are constantly growing and adapting to new research, treatments, and legal requirements, there is a constant need to keep updated in the field of medical coding. There are on-going training and education requirements to make sure that you stay trained and up to date.

Where do most medical coders work?

Most medical coders work as part of the administrative face of clinics, hospitals, billing offices, or occasionally at home. Depending on the standards of the office that they work for, medical coders might be required to wear scrubs or business professional outfits.

How much is the average pay for a medical coder?

Pay scales of medical coders vary by employer, geographic location, and experience. On average, a medical coder will make around $21 an hour.

What is the competition like with this job choice?

It is estimated that medical coding is going to grow and will need 6,000 additional jobs annually. The problem is that there are only 2,000 graduates of various coding programs to fill those jobs. While there might be some competition for the highest paying jobs in populated areas, there is a very high demand for this job, with not enough qualified applicants.


What are the similarities between medical billing and medical coding?

Both medical billing and medical coding are a great way to be involved with the medical field without needing an advanced medical degree. You do not have to go to medical school for either medical billing or medical coding.

Another great similarity between the two careers is that they are in high demand. With the growing medical field and the increase of retirement and health issues common to an aging population from the baby boomer generation, there is a nationwide need for both billers and coders

Both medical coders and billers are an essential part of a patient’s experience. They both deal with the safety of personal medical information while making sure that billing and payment for services and diagnoses are done correctly. In many offices, there is only one person who handles both the medical coding and billing as a single job.

Even in training and certification, some programs, like CareerStep’s online training program, allow you to get training for both medical coding and billing at the same time.

What are the differences between medical billing and medical coding?

Medical billing deals more with the money and finances of a patient visit with the insurance company, and clinic, office, or hospital, while medical coding focuses on translating the patient’s records from a physician’s or nurse’s notes to accepted code. While they deal with different aspects of the billing and administrative jobs, medical billers and coders have very similar skills and responsibilities.

Can you work remotely with either field option?

Both jobs do offer options to work remotely or from home. Typically, these opportunities are only given after a medical biller or coder has worked in the office and established themselves as an expert in their field.

There are occasionally some options to start work at home, but generally, you will first need to start at an office before you are offered a remote position.

Is the job outlook better for either job?

Both medical billing and medical coding will continue to grow and be in high demand and have a very good job outlook for the next decade. There will be 81.7 million Americans that will enroll in Medicare by 2030, which will continue to create a need in the healthcare market for both jobs. With a growing population that will need medical care and assistance, there is a direct need for medical staff and administration to serve them.

What is the ease of finding opportunities if you relocate to another city or state?

There are no specific state standards for either medical coding or billing. Your certificate and education qualify you to work in any city, in any state. With the growing need for medical coding and billing specialists, you will likely be able to find a job no matter where you move.


A medical billing specialist takes the medical code provided by a medical coder and then bills insurance and other third-party payers, like Medicare or Medicaid.

What traits make a great medical biller?

Attention to detail and accuracy with those details is essential. An error in medical billing can cost a patient thousands of dollars. Errors due to inaccurate billing can cause an increase in insurance denials, write-offs, and overpayments. A medical biller needs to make sure that the correct information is shared with the correct parties in a timely manner so that errors can be avoided.

What kind of people are usually interested in this field?

People who have great analytical, critical thinking, and organization skills do great in medical billing. It is important to have a good foundation in math, including consumer math and algebra, as these skills will be used frequently.

Medical billing is also a perfect option for those who want to be part of the medical field but do not want to invest in a long-term, expensive medical degree.


A medical coder is a health information professional who assigns codes that stand for medical diagnoses and procedures. They analyze patient records and then translate the personal medical information into universal codes, which are then passed to medical billing specialists.

What traits make a great medical coder?

Due to the growing and evolving field, some important traits for a medical coder to have include organization, attention to detail, great communication skills (must be able to communicate with both doctors and nurses), analytical skills, integrity, and the ability to be a lifelong learner.

What kind of people are usually interested in this field?

People who are academically inclined and like the science of medicine are a great fit to become successful medical coders. Those who enjoy a good puzzle and strive to find the solution to problems are also great candidates because a medical coder needs to be able to research through both hard copy books of medical coding references as well as online sources. Without complete and accurate details, they are unable to do their job correctly.


What is medical billing?

Medical billing is an essential part of the healthcare industry. It is taking medical coding from a patient’s records and then submitting claims with health insurance companies in order to receive payment for services provided. Medical billing takes a healthcare service and translates it into a billing claim. This ensures that the healthcare facility the biller works for is able to receive reimbursement for the work they performed.

What is medical coding?

Medical coding is the responsibility of reviewing clinical notes and assigning standard codes using a variety of classification systems. Those codes are then transferred to a medical biller who will submit a claim for services rendered.

How do you become a medical biller?

To get into the programs that provide the education and training needed to become a medical biller, you have to have your high school diploma or a GED equivalency. Once you have that, the fastest way to become a medical biller is by taking a medical billing certification training course. While this is not required, many employers prefer applicants with certifications. These trainings can run anywhere from four months to a year in length and can be online or in person. Once you have finished your training, you can start applying for jobs in the career field wherever you want to live and work.

How do you become a medical coder?

Training and certification to become a medical coder are essential to the job. To get the training required for the job, you are going to first need to have a high school diploma or GED equivalency. Certification training will take anywhere from four months up to two years depending on which program you choose to take as well as the workload that you are able to handle.

How much does a medical biller make in a year?

The average salary for a medical biller is around $16 per hour, or $32,000 a year. Depending on your training, experience, and location, this amount can change.

How much does a medical coder make in a year?

The average salary for a medical coder is $21 per hour, or $43,000 a year. Depending on your training, experience, and location, this amount can change.

What exactly does a medical biller do?

A medical biller takes code from a patient’s records and then submits a claim with a health insurance company. That claim becomes a billing claim for the insurance company. The medical biller is responsible for following up on and collecting the reimbursement from the insurance provider.

What exactly does a medical coder do?

A medical coder takes the clinical notes from the physicians, doctors, and nurses in a patient’s records, and translates the notes into a series of standard codes using a variety of classification systems. A medical coder is responsible for making sure that a patient’s interaction and history with the clinic, office, or hospital is recorded correctly because, if it is not, there is a risk of the patient being billed too much, an insurance claim being denied, or even potential legal actions.

Are medical billing and medical coding careers in high demand?

Yes. The medical field is rapidly expanding and has more job openings every year. The average annual job growth rate is 5%. In the field of medical billing and coding, the growth rate is estimated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to be 11%. This means that these careers have a very high growth rate and are estimated to still be in demand for the next decade.

How hard is it to learn medical coding or medical billing?

Depending on your background and personality type, learning medical coding or medical billing can be difficult or easy to learn. For those who are dedicated to their certification education and willing to invest the required time and energy into their training, it may seem easier to complete certification and be ready to enter the work field. If you have a head for numbers and accounting, medical billing might be easier for you as well. If you are interested in the science of medicine and medical procedures, then medical coding might be a better choice for you.