Medical coders help keep the financial side of a healthcare practice going. Without someone to translate medical documents and writeups into insurance codes, the clinic can’t earn revenue for its services.
Even though the job may not be the most exciting profession, medical coders have a solid place in healthcare. Here’s all the info you need to start as a medical coder.
How To Get Started
First off, medical coders have to be good at reviewing pages and pages of medical documents. The documents you get from the healthcare team will be the foundation medical coders base their billings. So, that means that a medical coder needs to be OK with reading all day.
Trained medical coders can work for almost any healthcare practice, but thinking about what kind of clinic you want to work at ahead of time can help, too. Some codes come up more frequently for different practices, so lining up your interests with your ideal workplace can help keep you motivated while you learn the job.
Training, Certification, and Permits
In a healthcare job, you can expect to go through a good amount of training to become a medical coder. In general, medical coders get into the field by taking a coding certification program through a local college or tech school.
Additionally, an American Academy of Professional Coders certification puts you in a position to specialize in one type of coding. That certificate appeals to many employers right now, making it a good certification to get. It’s worth noting that some programs include certification in their fees while others don’t, so keep an eye out for those details.
Finally, medical coders have ongoing education requirements to keep their certifications.
Medical coding is a year-round job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists roughly 416,400 medical coding jobs as of 2020, with the space growing by 9% per year on average. So, medical coding isn’t a job that’s going to fall out of favor any time soon.
The job will put you at a desk in a clinic or hospital for many hours a day. Some billing companies that receive outsourced documents have remote options for the job, but those jobs are rare due to the difficulty of transferring sensitive medical documents remotely.
Overall, medical coding is a good job for full-time workers. The median pay for medical coders was $21.75 per hour in 2020, which is well above minimum wage. You can support yourself well while working as a medical coder.
However, medical coding is not a good fit for a side hustle or part-time job. Many employers want to bring full-time medical coders onto their teams due to the effort and care that has to be used when billing. Penalties are high for practices that don’t bill correctly.
So, while medical coding won’t suit those out there looking for a side gig, it can be a great choice for a career change. With just one to two years of education, you can get into a job well above minimum wage and won’t be phased out of the workforce soon!