For those interested in pursuing careers in health care, medical billing and coding certification is certainly an area to consider. This type of program typically covers medical terminology, health care systems, medical records management, computer applications, health care reimbursement, and procedural and diagnostic coding, among other topics. The courses are designed to help prepare students for entry-level administrative positions with hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices. Please keep in mind, however, employers may prefer to hire medical billers and coders with professional certification or an associate degree. Accredited medical billing and coding schools should prepare you for this.
Types of Certificates
There are a number of medical billing and coding online certificate programs from which to choose. This type of curriculum is particularly flexible for working adults, busy parents, or those with travel restrictions. With a certificate program, classes will focus exclusively on industry-related topics. This includes medical billing and coding training in diagnostic and procedural coding, electronic records management, medical terminology, human anatomy, and health care law and ethics, to name a few. Common eligibility requirements are listed below for your review:
- High school diploma or equivalent
- Transcript or GED test scores
- Application form and fee
Most medical billing and coding certificate programs can be finished in about six months to one year if you remain enrolled on a full-time basis. Of course, other factors like the number of courses in the curriculum or any breaks taken from the program will also influence this time frame. Online learners have access to the virtual learning platform at any time and from any location with internet access. This allows them to work around their professional and family schedules. Any externship components can be arranged with medical offices in your own area.
What’s Next for Certificate Holders?
Once you have completed an accredited certificate program in medical billing and coding, you should be prepared to sit for one of the nationally-recognized certification exams. Most employers will prefer job candidates with these credentials. Certification is offered through the American Health Information Management Association, American Academy of Professional Coders, and the American Medical Billing Association. Once certified, you will be eligible to fill a number of entry-level administrative positions with hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices, and other health care facilities.
Job growth is expected to remain strong in coming years. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted a 21% increase is the demand for medical records and health information technicians from 2010 to 2020. This is significantly stronger than the 14% growth anticipated for all occupations over this projection period. The mean annual salary for those working in this position was $36,770 in 2012. The majority of jobs were found with general medical and surgical hospital and doctors’ offices. It is important to keep in mind, these statistics may not reflect the actual job market or pay rates in your area. This can all depend on where you live, your level of experience, and the specific employer.