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How to Become a Medical Coder

Updated on September 6, 2012

A medical coder is a professional in the accounting/administrative area of health care who transfers medical services performed by doctors or other health care providers into alpha numeric codes. These codes are used to determine that amount of money charged to an insurance company for the services. A coder is responsible in general for the accurate transfer of health information between among patients, health care providers, insurance companies, and lawyers so that proper payment can be made. Along with many other administrative positions in the health care fields, this job type is showing increasing demand in recent years.

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Where to Begin

To be thorough, it should be noted that getting educated to become a medical coder really starts in high school. A high school diploma is necessary for the position. High School class work in subjects like biology and anatomy are useful, as well as ordinary math and writing skills.

Medical Coding Courses and Certifications

The next step is to complete a medical coding course either at a four year college, a community college, or online. Someone obtaining an associate’s degree in medical coding has a promising job outlook, and someone getting a 4 year degree, perhaps in some subject area such as health information systems or something similar has an even better chance of obtaining a high paying position. Look around at your local state university, private colleges, community colleges, and adult education institutions for courses in medical coding. Note that these courses may be combined with other disciplines such as medical billing or transcription.

The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), a large medical coding training and certification organizations, is also something to consider. This organization offers classes in medical coding all across the country at a variety of specialized locations tailored to fit a busy schedule. They offer both in class and online construction. This is only one example – there are many such organizations that offer all kinds of educational options. Again, like other administrative medical fields, this is an expanding employment area with plenty of jobs, and there are many educational organizations springing up to meet the demand.

There are no state mandated examinations that you have to pass to become a medical coder. However private certification exams are given by a number of educational institutions. These exams are useful in demonstrating your level of knowledge. The main thing to focus on if you would like to pursue this field, is just getting educated in it. The exams given by the institution you are attending are usually acceptable as proof of competency.

Finding a Job

Now that you’ve completed your training it’s time to look for a job. The traditional avenues of job for finding a job as a medical coder are what you might expect: Write up a resume showing your educational experience (and of course any related experience), search in the newspaper and/or online for job openings, and apply to them. An interview will be scheduled and you’ll be on your way.

In addition there is the possibility of doing medical billing in a more freelance context, as an independent contractor. You can search online freelancing sites, craigslist, medical job listing sites and so on for opportunities of this nature, or simply market yourself as an independent medical coder to local hospitals, doctors’ offices, clinics, insurance companies, and so on. You can set up a home office with internet access, a fax machine, and so on, and do the administrative work there. In today’s economy, independent contractors are an option that businesses are considering more and more as a good alternative to keeping somebody on a fixed salary. And considering that medical coding is in high demand you should be able to find opportunities for independent work. It may be a good idea to get at least some standard nine to five work in a single medical office under your belt before venturing out on your own, but that’s really your decision.

Medical coding is a good career to peruse if you like working with numbers, paying attention to detail, and dealing with professionals in the health care industry. A quick online search will show you the many educational and job opportunities available in the well paid and rewarding job area. Don’t hesitate to explore it if it seems like something you might be interested in.

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    • profile image

      jamu47 

      5 years ago

      Thanks For Tips On How To Become A Medical Coder. GOOD STUFF! :-)

      Medical Coder Salary

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