Medical Billing and Coding Degree Programs Offer Opportunities for Workers

Earning a certification as a health information technician can open up incredible opportunities. While these careers don’t require an advanced college degree, medical coders and billers enjoy excellent job security and high salaries while playing a crucial role in healthcare delivery. With online programs, students can earn the credentials they need to find employment in a matter of months. The resources on this page can help you learn more and start an exciting new career.

Understanding the Job Outlook for Medical Billing and Coding Professionals

Medical coders work closely with a healthcare team to review patient files and translate that information for insurance providers. They don’t actually program computer code — the “coding" refers to the universal set of codes used by insurance companies. Medical billers process insurance claims; some people work as both medical coders and medical billers.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of medical records & health information technicians is projected to grow by 8 percent from 2019 to 2019. That’s significantly faster than the national outlook for all occupations — and it means that medical coders can expect excellent job security over the course of their careers.

Other reasons to consider a career in medical billing and coding:

  • Competitive Salaries - Per the BLS, the 2020 median pay for medical records and health information technicians was $44,090 per year. Many experienced coders earn more — salaries vary, but the median pay is much higher than the average pay for people without college degrees.

  • Fast Training - Most medical billing programs require 40-80 hours of coursework. Some people complete certificate programs in as little as three weeks — but online courses allow students to finish their coursework at their own pace.

  • Remote Work Flexibility - Medical coders and billers frequently work from home. The jobs are well suited to remote work, but due to the high demand for health information techs, people who prefer working in an office or hospital can typically find employment in those settings.

  • Fulfilling Work - Medical coders don’t interact directly with patients, but they’re critically important members of a healthcare team. Whether you’re working in a hospital, a private office, or even from your own home, medical coding can be enriching and satisfying work.

Many coders obtain additional credentials to work in specialized fields. For example, if you’d prefer to work in a dentist’s office, you can earn a Certified Dental Coder certificate to find employment in dentistry. Technicians can build their resumes over the course of their careers to find high-paying employment in virtually any medical field.

How to Become a Medical Records Professional

Medical coders don’t need college degrees — postsecondary education can be helpful, but most employers simply require a medical coding certification. This usually isn’t a legal requirement, but certification shows that you have the necessary knowledge to begin work right away.

Entry-level credentials teach the basic knowledge that coders need to work in healthcare, and many courses include instruction on ethics, privacy, and other important concepts. Many courses offer practice exams to help students prepare.

At the conclusion of the course, the student must pass the exam to earn their certificate. Online programs are particularly useful for entry-level coders and billers, since students can learn at their own pace and ensure that they’re fully prepared for the final exam.

After earning an entry-level credential, students can take additional courses to earn specialty credentials. Many coders begin work right away, then add other credentials to their resumes while working in the field. However, even at the entry level, medical coding can be a lucrative career.

Finding Online Programs for Medical Coding

Online programs can give you the tools you need to find employment in the fast-growing field of health information technology. As discussed earlier, many courses can be completed in a matter of weeks — or you can opt for a slower schedule, which can be helpful if you’re working another job or balancing life responsibilities.

Internet-based medical coding programs offer flexible coursework, and tuition is typically affordable. However, online medical coding courses work differently. To keep costs down and improve your chances of landing a job, you’ll need to do some research.

To get started, look for at least 3-4 medical coding programs. Online resources can be helpful for finding options. Evaluate each program, reading about tuition, coursework, timeframe, and details about the available certifications. By reading carefully, you can find a reputable program that fits your schedule — and start your new profession with complete confidence.