How to be a medical coder in 10 easy steps
Have you ever wondered how to become a medical coder? If so, we’re here to help! This article will walk you through the basics of this job and also highlight some top tips that can get you started on your way to becoming an expert medical coder. By the end of it, you’ll know everything you need to know about pursuing this career and starting down the road to success!
1) Learn the basics of medical coding
Getting certified as a medical coder is actually easier than you might think. To get your certification, you just need to complete some education and pass an exam. This is where Medical Billing & Coding Boot Camp comes in. At Boot Camp, instructors walk students through all of the basics that they need to know about coding and billing.
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Once you’ve learned how to become a medical coder, there are several ways for you to apply your new skills. You can work directly for a hospital or physician’s office; you can find work at an insurance company; or you can even open up your own business! For more information on how to become a medical coder, check out Medical Billing & Coding Boot Camp today!
2) Use free resources to learn medical coding
Learning how to become a medical coder can seem daunting, especially if you don’t know where to start. Although medical coding schools exist, it’s possible to learn medical coding for free. Some hospitals and medical practices provide opportunities for beginner coders by offering training programs or internships.
For example, IntelliCodes offers internship programs that give you hands-on experience as well as tools and resources so you can continue your education even after you complete your placement. However, even if there aren’t any training opportunities available at nearby hospitals, there are several free resources that can help you get started learning on your own time .
The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) offers certifications and continuing education courses online, which makes it easy to learn medical coding from home. Additionally, professional organizations like Medical Billing Advocates of America (MBAA) offer online resources for beginners who want to pursue careers in medical billing.
If you want to become a medical coder but don’t have much experience with computers or technology, remember that most entry-level positions require little more than basic computer skills. Even if you haven’t used Excel before or never taken an online course before, remember that practice makes perfect! The best way to improve your skills is through practice and repetition—and most importantly: do not give up!
3) Do self-study courses for healthcare careers
Self-study courses are available for healthcare careers. If you’re already working or want to start a career in medical billing, it may not make sense to quit your job and enroll full-time in school right away. Self-study courses provide an opportunity for you work part-time and learn on your own time. Start with basic topics like anatomy and physiology before moving on to more advanced classes about medical coding and reimbursement.
The National Association of Healthcare Coding Specialists offers self-study courses online with flexible course formats, including live webinars, recorded lectures, flashcards, practice exams and more. NAHCS also has chapters across most states where students can network with other coders and professionals working in healthcare industry. Other organizations, such as PCCA Medical Billing & Coding School, offer accredited certification programs for medical coders and medical billers.
These programs range from three months to two years depending on what level of education you want (an associate’s degree versus a bachelor’s degree). Online options also include correspondence courses through schools like Rasmussen College and universities such as Excelsior College that allow students to earn degrees without ever stepping foot into a classroom.
Before committing to any program, research whether it is accredited by ABHES (Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools) or CAHIIM (Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education). In addition, speak with current students who have taken these programs so you know what to expect when pursuing your education.
4) Become certified as a medical biller
While there are plenty of opportunities for people with a love of data to work in healthcare without becoming an RN, if you want to advance professionally and earn more money, it will require advanced education.
Courses in medical coding usually take place after normal working hours or on weekends. In some cases, you may need two years worth of coding experience before you’re allowed to enroll; others will accept students straight out of high school, but they tend to be expensive.
If that sounds too hard or expensive, stick with your passion for numbers and go into nursing. You’ll still have access to patient records, which means you can stay involved in medical billing as a side gig while maintaining your day job. And who knows? You might find yourself so inspired by what you see at work that one day you decide to make a career change!
5) Get accredited by NABP
The first step to entering the field of healthcare coding is to become accredited by one of three accrediting bodies recognized by NABP: AHIMA, CCI, and AAPC. The standards and exams are handled differently by each organization.
By choosing AHIMA, you’ll take both an exam and fulfill a certification requirement; choose either CCI or AAPC, however, and you only need to pass an exam. Regardless of which body you go with, it’s important to note that all have their own eligibility requirements. In order to sit for any exam, for example, you must have graduated from high school or hold a GED certificate and possess basic computer skills.
You must also be able to read and write English at an eighth-grade level or higher. Additionally, certain professional licenses may help your chances of passing—for example, EMTs can earn credentials through APHIS (American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography) while respiratory therapists can get credentialed through ARRT (American Registry for Radiologic Technologists).
Regardless of your background—or whether you opt for full accreditation—the cost will vary depending on which organization you choose.
6) Earn an associate degree in healthcare careers
First and foremost, you need to make sure that you are well-versed with your chosen career path before even thinking about attending school. This is especially true for healthcare careers like medical coding because there are so many nuances and intricacies involved.
For example, if you’re going into physical therapy, it’s a good idea to know what you’re getting into: long hours, expensive equipment, high turnover rates. If you have your eyes set on becoming an occupational therapist, then it’s important that you know how much schooling is required, how much it will cost and how long it will take.
Before making any big financial decisions, do your research so that you won’t regret anything further down the line. Once you’ve got a handle on your field of interest, look into schools near you or online. Make sure they offer programs that align with your goals and interests. Some schools might offer certificate programs while others may require associate degrees; some may require one or two years of experience while others may not accept applicants without three years of experience under their belt.
There are many factors to consider when deciding which program to pursue, but don’t worry—you’ll find something! The key is taking time to compare all of your options carefully so that you can find something that fits both your budget and schedule perfectly.
7) Discover various job opportunities related to medical coding
Medical coding and billing is one of those careers that you’re likely to see popping up in job listings from time to time. As more offices and hospitals shift toward digital records, coders play an important role in helping sort through stacks of paper charts and patient information.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 14% growth for medical coders between 2014 and 2024, a faster than average pace. To find out more about how you can make your way into medicine as a coder, follow these ten simple steps.
8) Create your resume, portfolio, and cover letter
The world of healthcare and coding is one of rare skill sets, so if you’re serious about getting into it, you’ll want to make sure your resume, portfolio, and cover letter are up-to-date. Let hiring managers know exactly how experienced you are (and how long you’ve been at it), and don’t forget to include any certifications or other awards or honors.
If potential employers see that you have what they need—as well as knowledge of related skills like Excel spreadsheets or health insurance billing—you’re much more likely to land a job offer. And don’t forget social media! You can post your work online so that recruiters will easily find it.
As for that portfolio? It’s worth having because you’ll eventually want to show it off when looking for a new job or during an interview. Plus, having a visual representation of your work is often easier than trying to explain how things worked out over email.
To sum up: These three things aren’t just tools for applying for jobs; they’re also proof of what you can do and may even come in handy later on down the road when looking for another position or dealing with clients. They’re all important documents that every good candidate should keep updated as their career moves forward.
9) Know about salary ranges, job opportunities, and certification requirements
While you can become certified as a medical biller or coding specialist with only an associate degree, many employers prefer hiring candidates who have bachelor’s degrees. While certificate programs and online courses can help, working in healthcare or one of its many related fields provides invaluable experience. In order to get hired by hospitals, healthcare facilities, and insurance companies, you’ll need good interpersonal skills and excellent communication abilities.
You’ll also want an understanding of health-related issues along with information on proper coding practices. Ideally, you should work at least one internship with a certified professional before applying for your first job as well. This will ensure that you know what employers expect from new hires. If you’re interested in learning more about how to become a medical coder, check out our guide here.
10) Start your career as a Medical Coder
Take courses with National Healthcareer Association (NHA) . The organization offers several Coding courses from an introductory level through more advanced options. For those who are looking for online education, they offer classes such as Certified Professional Coder (CPC) or Certified Professional Coding Specialist (CPCS).
Upon completion of these programs you will also become certified by AHIMA as well. There are many others organizations that offer similar certifications and training. Search your local community college or healthcare facility to find additional opportunities in your area. Ask teachers or professors if they can help connect you with job prospects. Some hospitals do not advertise their coding openings on online sites but they may reach out directly via networking and references.
In order to become a top medical biller and coder, you must have knowledge on a number of topics. This means, not only do you need excellent communication skills, but also exceptional mathematics skills. You should know how billing and coding works from start to finish.
In addition, you need knowledge on HIPAA and what it takes for your organization/company to be compliant with such legislation as well as how insurance companies can impact your firm’s bottom line. Finally, being able to use specific software is something that will greatly benefit new and practicing coders alike.