Medical coding technology degree programs are often known as health information technology programs. These programs are offered at community colleges and technical schools and take at least two years to complete. To qualify for admission, along with possessing a high school diploma or GED, applicants may have to take prerequisite courses in medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, and business computer applications. A criminal background check may also be required of applicants.
Graduates with health information technology associate's degrees may qualify to seek professional certification after they've gotten some experience in the field.
Associate of Medical Coding Technology Degree
Associate's degree students learn about codes used in medical records and insurance processing, and gain knowledge of medical office software, classification systems and disease processes. Students learn through classes, lab work, and supervised experience in medical facilities. A few general education courses are required. Typical courses include:
- Quality assessment
- Healthcare delivery systems
- Coding and classification systems
- Legal and ethical issues with healthcare systems
- Health information management
- CPT procedural coding
Popular Career Options
Medical coders are expected to have good employment opportunities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of medical records and health information technicians is projected to increase by 15% between 2014 and 2024. These workers earn an average salary of $37,110 as of May 2015, per BLS data.
Other possible career titles include:
- Health information technicians
- Medical records technicians
- Coding specialists
- Medical coders
- Health information coders
Continuing Education Information
Graduates of associate's degree programs may join the work force immediately or pursue further education. Once they've obtained experience, they can obtain advanced specialty certification or pursue bachelor's or master's degree programs in health information technology and become health information managers. Most employers prefer their medical records and health information technicians be certified as a sign of the individual's knowledge of medical coding technology.
Certification as a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) can be obtained through the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) by completing formal training and passing a written examination. Other certifying organizations include the Board of Medical Specialty Coding & Compliance (BMSC), the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) and the Professional Association of Healthcare Coding Specialists (PAHCS). The BMSC and the PAHCS both offer specialty coding certifications.
Medical coders, or health information technicians, gain education and training through an associate's degree program that covers topics ranging from medical software to ethics. Graduates who get certified may be able to obtain more competitive jobs or professional advancement.