Medical Billing and Coding Schools

As health insurance companies become more complicated to work with and bill, the need for medical billing and coding specialists continues to rise.

Certification, which can take 1 to 2 years through an accredited school or college, is all that is required for most jobs in this field. The average starting salary for a person in this industry is $35,000 a year.

The medical field has become a hot commodity in today’s job market, with demand for jobs in all aspects of the field continuing to grow. In spite of the economic woes being experienced in other fields, the medical field is defying those odds. By 2018, 3.2 million new jobs created will be in the healthcare field.

Of the top 10 jobs in the healthcare industry, medical billing and coding is ranked at number five. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics places job prospects for this field as “very good.” Bureau projections indicate that employment of professionals in this field will increase roughly 20 percent by 2018, making it one of the fastest-growing jobs in the medical field.

What is Medical Billing and Coding?

Medical billing and coding are actually two different jobs that often are performed by the same person. However, each aspect requires separate training.

Medical billers – sometimes called medical secretaries – are responsible for submitting claims to health insurance companies in order to receive payment for the healthcare provided who rendered the services. They also must follow up on those claims to ensure payment is being made and, if not, the patient must then be billed.

Medical Billing does not require special certification and often those who are performing the task received on-the-job training from their current employer. There is no legal requirement for certification to work in this field. However, many schools will offer certificate programs that are intended to provide the groundwork for those who will be entering this field.

Medical coders are responsible for assigning codes to all medical services offered by a healthcare provider. Those codes are then used for the purposes of medical records and insurance billing.


In order to become a medical coder, extensive formal training is required. This training can be obtained from technical institutes, community colleges, specialty schools or online programs. While some in the medical coding profession earn Bachelor degrees, it is not required to work in this field. A solid understanding of anatomy, physiology and medical terms is the most important aspect of this job.

During their education, aspiring medical coders will learn how to use the three medical coding books widely accepted and used in the medical field: CPT, HCPCS Level II and the ICD-9-CM. These books detail medical codes for medical procedures performed and the accounting of supplies used to treat patients during a medical procedure or visit.

While certification is not required to work in the medical coding field, it is highly encouraged. Those who wish to pursue this career path should consider becoming a Certified Professional Coder, which can be achieved by taking and passing the CPC exam. Students who plan to seek certification should attend an accredited college or university program for medical coding.

Two agencies provide accreditation for medical coding and health information management programs. They are the American Health Information Management Association and the American Academy of Professional Coders. In addition, there are six regional accreditation services: Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools; New England Association of Schools and Colleges; North Central Association of Colleges and Schools; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools; Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges; and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Most programs are designed to be completed within two years for students who are enrolled full time. Students who are enrolled part time may take longer to complete the courses and earn their degree. Some online diploma programs also are available.

Job Market

With health insurance reform now in place, medical coders have several options for career paths upon completion of a program and/or the receipt of certification.

Certified professional coders can earn an average of $46,800, according to statistics provided by the AAPC. Nearly 80 percent of all medical coders currently working in the field are certified. Medical coders who have received more advanced certification or education can expect to earn over $54,700 a year. Those who have the highest level of education/certification – called Certified Professional Coder-Instructors – earn an average of $76,000 a year.

Article by Shari Berg,