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Everything You Need to Know to Become a Medical Coder

Dec 9, 2016 | Harrison College

Everything You Need to Know to Become a Medical Coder

Some people are just inherently good with technology. But what if you’re a tech whiz who wants to take advantage of the record-breaking job growth in the health care field?


If you can identify with the above statements, then medical coding might be the perfect fit! You can capitalize on your tech talent while also taking advantage of a rewarding and growing industry.


But if you’ve already begun to explore what it takes to break into the medical coding field, you’ve likely discovered it can be somewhat confusing to navigate. In an effort to make the path to this promising career a bit clearer, we dug into the research to assemble a simple overview of everything you need to know to become a medical coder.


How to become a medical coder: Education requirements


Medical coders must be proficient in a number of key areas. On top of the necessary technical skills, they must have excellent analytical skills, extreme attention to detail and strong interpersonal skills. It’s also imperative to maintain a high level of integrity because they work with confidential patient data.


These are all things you’ll learn as you embark on the process of earning a medical coding diploma. This credential can be earned in less than two years. This means you could launch your new career as early as next year!


It is also true that many employers prefer job candidates who have acquired a medical coding certification from a nationally recognized affiliate like the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC). Additional certifications you can obtain include the Certified Professional Coder (CPC), Certified Outpatient Coder (COC), Certified Inpatient Coder (CIC) and more.


While certifications are not required for all positions in this field, they are a great way to make your resume stand out among other applicants. What’s more, certified medical coders typically earn annual salaries about 20 percent higher than those who have not obtained certification, according to the AAPC.


How to become a medical coder: Salary and job outlook


Professionals working in the medical coding field earn a median annual salary of $37,110 with the highest 10 percent earning more than $61,400 annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). These numbers are higher than the national average of all occupations, which is $32,200.


One of the most promising trends in medical coding, however, is the anticipated job growth. The BLS predicts jobs in this field will grow 15 percent by 2024. This is more than twice the average rate of all occupations.


This growth is mostly due to a combination of the aging population requiring more medical services and an increase in the number of individuals who have access to health insurance as a result of federal health care reform.


How to become a medical coder: Work environment


Medical coders most commonly work in hospitals or physician’s offices. In fact, those two categories made up of more than half of the recorded medical coding jobs in 2014. Other work environments include surgery centers, dental offices, home health agencies, mental health facilities and other long-term care facilities.


But many don’t realize there are also opportunities for some medical coders outside of the clinical setting. These include insurance companies, consulting firms, public health organizations and government agencies. There has even been an increasing number of work-from-home opportunities for medical coders in recent years.


The majority of a medical coder’s work is conducted — as you might expect — in front of a computer screen, as their time is mostly spent abstracting clinical data from patient charts.


How to become a medical coder: Where are the jobs?


Now that your path toward a medical coding career is a bit more clear, you’re probably wondering where all the medical coding jobs reside. In such an in-demand field, a qualified candidate should be able to find work as a medical coder just about anywhere. But some areas are more promising than others.


We used real-time market intelligence to analyze more than 125,000 medical coding job postings from the past 12 months to determine the states with the highest volume of medical coding jobs.*

Here are the top 15:

  1. California
  2. Texas
  3. Florida
  4. New York
  5. Illinois
  6. Pennsylvania
  7. Ohio
  8. Arizona
  9. Michigan
  10. New Jersey
  11. Georgia
  12. Massachusetts
  13. Colorado
  14. Indiana
  15. Tennessee


Take the next step in your technology career

If you’ve determined that a career in medical coding is right for you, you’ve already taken one of the most important steps toward becoming a medical coder. And now that you’ve learned all about the required education, salary and job prospects, work environment and job hot spots, it’s time to find a program that can help you launch your career.


Visit our Medical Billing and Coding Diploma page to learn how Harrison College can help equip you for this rewarding health care career.

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