Employers usually require prospective medical billing employees to have some form of postsecondary education. One common type of program available is a 2-year Associate of Science in Medical Billing and Coding. High school graduates with strong English skills may choose to enroll in a traditional classroom program or a distance learning option. Seminars may be required during the curriculum.
Associate of Science in Medical Billing and Coding
Many hospitals, physicians' offices and long-term care centers hire medical billing and coding professionals to translate procedures and patient information into billing and insurance codes. Courses teach the coding methods most currently used across the industry. Many programs in medical billing and coding also provide general education courses to provide graduates with a well-rounded education. Common courses include the following:
- Health services organization
- CPT coding and billing
- ICD-9 classification
- Healthcare economics
- Legal concepts in healthcare
- Information technology for medical office assistants
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Graduates of a medical billing and coding associate's degree programs may qualify for several entry-level positions in the field of health information technology and medical record-keeping. Some of these include:
- Medical records specialist
- Medical billing and coding specialist
- Claims processor
- Medical office assistant
- Health care information technician
As of 2015, the average annual wage for all medical records and health information technicians was $40,430, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Job openings in this field were expected to increase 15% from 2014-2024.
Certification and Continuing Education
The American Academy of Professional Coders offers certification opportunities for professionals within the medical billing and coding field. Certification in the field is not required but is sometimes encouraged. Medical billing and coding specialists interested in advancing their careers into healthcare management might consider enrolling in a bachelor's degree program in health informatics or health information management.
Associate's degree programs in medical billing and coding provide students with a practical understanding of healthcare organizations, medical terminology, standard procedures and medical office administration processes. Professional certification is available for students wishing to pursue it, as are bachelor's degree programs in related fields, both of which can improve employability.