Medical Coding Education

There are many medical coding education opportunities to choose from, both in the classroom and online. Before handing over your hard earned cash, you want to be sure to know what you are signing up for. Some schools offer medical billing certificates but that is not the type of medical coding education I am referring to here. This article is about how to become a Certified Professional Coder or CPC®.

Before making the decision to become a medical coder, it's a good idea to take a look at your situation as it relates to your career goals, current job, and experience. Consider the following:

If you have no medical billing experience at all, medical coder certification will give you an edge over other job candidates without experience.

Maybe you bill for a specialty with very little coding complexity. Perhaps certification is overkill for you. Medical coding books in your specialty may be sufficient.

What if you have some medical billing experience and plan to start your own billing service. In that case, medical coding education will give you a competitive advantage.

Questions & Answers
Becoming A Certified Professional Coder

What is a Certified Professional Coder or CPC®?

A Certified Professional Coder or CPC® is a nationally recognized certification that is obtained by taking standardized courses through a recognized organization. You must then pass state certification exams that are proctored and take up to six hours to complete. In addition, you must complete 32 continuing education units or CEUs every two years to maintain your accreditation. This is necessary to stay current with coding changes. CEUs can be accumulated by attending workshops, local chapter meetings, and state and national conferences.

Where can I obtain training for certification?

Medical coding certification is offered by several organizations. Nationally recognized organizations include the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) and American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). There are other schools that offer training programs. Just be sure that the preparation courses are for the CPC® certification.

What other types of certification are there?

There are medical coder certifications for Inpatient Hospital Coder, Insurance Claim Analyst, Insurance Fraud Investigator, Auditors, and several other career opportunities. Check the AAPC and AHIMA websites for more details.

What can I expect to make in salary?

According to the AAPC, the annual salary for medical coders ranges from $40,000 to $73,000, based on educational credentials, certification status, experience, and geographic location.

What methods of training are available?

There are classroom and online classes available to prepare you for the exam. Classes vary in length. Check with the AAPC or AHIMA websites for more details.

How do I know if this type of medical coding education is right for me?

A medical coder must be detail oriented and work with a high degree of accuracy. It is an added advantage to be well organized and a self-starter.

How should I prepare for my medical coding education?

I think previous job experience is the most beneficial. You learn the business on someone else's dime. If that isn't possible, you should prepare yourself by taking courses in medical terminology, anatomy, and physiology.

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