Medical coding is a fast-growing occupation that is getting a lot of attention from job seekers these days because there is so much opportunity. Medical coders are responsible for translating the everyday business of medical facilities into the alphanumeric coding system which allows physicians and insurance companies to communicate objectively and clearly. Without medical coders, the operations of hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities would be impossible and medical billers would be unable to do their jobs. Medical coding is sometimes confused with medical billing, but it is a separate occupation.
Why Become A Medical Coder
There are many benefits to considering a career in medical coding. Firstly, you get to work in a healthcare setting and help others. Secondly, this field is growing quickly and there are going to be a lot more job openings in the coming years. You can work in many different work environments, and the salary is quite good if you get a degree. You can get started with relatively little education if you do not have a lot to invest in a degree program.
Medical Coder Work Environment
As a medical coder, you could work in a hospital or a clinic or outpatient facility. You also might work in the office of an insurance company or government program. You may even work from home.
Medical Coder Salary
According to the American Association of Professional Coders (AAPC), the total average salary of all medical coders is $47,870. The BLS provides a lower number, but that is because the Bureau of Labor Statistics groups medical coding into “health information technicians,” a much broader category. The highest salaries are earned by medical coders who earn higher degrees.
Medical Coder Career Outlook
The job outlook for medical coding is great right now. Healthcare is a field that is growing fast, and that means auxiliary jobs like coding are growing too. The BLS currently cites a growth rate of 31% for medical coding and similar professions, and that means up to 37,700 new jobs in auxiliary healthcare fields may open up by the year 2020.
There is a misconception among many job candidates that you do not need a degree to become a medical coder. While you can feasibly get a position without one, you will be far more competitive with a certification, and even more competitive if you have a degree. The salary for a medical coder without a degree is also substantially lower than the salary for a coder with a degree; it is the difference between being able to earn a living wage and barely getting by. Medical coding can be quite a high-earning occupation if you have the best possible training.
This is why you should not look upon a degree in medical coding as optional. At the very least you should pursue your certification and you should strongly consider an associate’s degree. If you have limited time for your education, you can return to school later for a bachelor’s or master’s degree.