Medical billers and medical coders are in-demand health care professionals who can expect to enjoy great job security well into the future. The health care industry is expanding every year. In fact, health care is the fastest growing industry in the country. This means that getting into health care now is a smart career move. With two years or less of training, you could be ready for a career that pays well, that is meaningful, that is secure, and that will allow you to work hours that match your lifestyle.
A great way to get into the booming health care industry is with a job as a medical biller or medical coder, or more likely as both. Medical billing and medical coding are very similar and most educational programs will train you in both skills, as employers want professionals who can do both. This is the kind of job that will allow you to be a part of health care, but that does not require direct work with patients. If this sounds like the right kind of career for you, here’s how you can get there.
Learn More about Medical Billing vs. Medical Coding
The first step you should take before starting down the path of any new career is to learn more about it. Before you start training in this field, make sure it sounds like something you can do and that you want to do. There are many great reasons to get into medical billing and coding, including steady hours, a good salary, and job security, but it is not necessarily a career that will suit everyone.
Medical Billing vs. Medical Coding:
A medical coder is someone who translates interactions between patients and their health care providers into a special code. This code is called ICD-10, a system that was updated from ICD-9 in 2015. ICD stands for International Classification of Diseases, and it is a system of shorthand codes for various treatments, procedures, and diagnoses.
A medical biller takes codes and insurance information for a patient and submits claims to the insurer. The medical biller also follows up on these claims.
Medical billing and coding is often done by the same person, although in large health care settings, there may be different individuals for each job. Medical billers and coders are both largely self-directed workers and spend a lot of time at computers. This work is great for anyone who likes to work independently with some amount of communication with doctors or nurses. Billers and coders do not work directly with patients. They may work in a doctor’s office or at an offsite location.
Learn what a Career in Medical Billing and Coding Has to Offer
Beyond simply enjoying the kind of work that a medical biller and medical coder does, it helps to also know what the other benefits of the job are. You may have certain ideas about the kinds of hours you want to work or how much you want to earn, and before you choose a career, you should know if it will match the dreams you have for your future.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, people working in medical billing and coding earn a median salary of $37,110 per year, or $17.84 per hour. This is only the midpoint for salaries, so those workers with more training or experience can earn much more than this. Hours for medical billers and coders are mostly typical office hours; however, there may be opportunities to work nights or weekends in large hospital settings. A career like this could allow you to work normal hours, to have a set schedule that doesn’t change week by week, and to have a better balance between your work and your time spent with family.
Enroll in Courses for Medical Coders and Billers
Medical billing and coding courses are necessary for getting this kind of job. Not many employers will offer on-the-job training for this career. It is a skill that must be learned and it takes several months, nearly a year of classes to be adequately trained to do the job correctly. You can choose between a diploma or certificate program that will take a year or less to complete, or an associate degree program that will require about two years of coursework.
Medical billing and coding classes include learning about medical terminology, basic anatomy and physiology, coding for procedures, coding for diagnostics, and how to bill insurance companies. Many programs also include hands-on learning experiences, or externships working in real health care facilities. Taking classes and practicing learned skills are important for showing employers that you are a great candidate for a medical biller or coder position.
Consider Certification as a Medical Biller or Coder
Medical billing and coding is a career that does not require certification in most places. Technically, a degree or diploma is not required either, although few employers will hire someone without any training. Although it is not required, getting certified is something you should consider. It could give you a leg up over other candidates for jobs when it’s time to apply. Certification shows that you know your subject and that you didn’t just go through the motions in your classes.
You can get certification as a medical biller, medical coder, or both, through the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC). This professional organization offers examinations for certifying medical coders, medical billers, medical auditors, medical compliance specialists, and medical documentation specialists. In deciding between medical billing vs. medical coding, it makes sense to get certified in both. This is the best way to ensure you are a desirable candidate for employers.
Start Your Job Search for Medical Biller and Medical Coder Positions
You have several options when it comes to where you receive your training in medical billing and coding. Medical billing and coding courses at Florida Technical College (FTC) are available at two convenient South and Central Florida campuses, but also online. Even better, FTC offers career services so that once you are ready to wrap up your program and graduate, you can get personalized assistance finding your dream job.
Before you graduate, start working with the career services department to get help looking for open positions. The staff in the department will know where to look, and even better, can take your preferences for a job, such as location, and track down a list of perfect jobs to apply for. Starting the search early is important and can ensure that you have a job to start and can begin collecting a salary right after graduation.
Get Your Medical Biller and Medical Coder Portfolio Ready for Employers
Your next step will be to prepare for applying and interviewing for positions. Just taking the medical coding courses and medical billing classes is not enough to be the best candidate for a job. Let the career services department help you craft a great resume and put together a professional portfolio that will demonstrate why you are the ideal person for a given job.
Your portfolio should show all the courses you took and your grades; it should include reference letters from instructors and past employers; it should also include evidence of the externship or hands-on experience you had as part of your training program; and finally, your portfolio should include official transcripts and any documentation needed to prove you graduated and achieved certification through the AAPC.
Practice Interviewing for a Medical Biller and Medical Coder Position
The final piece in the puzzle of getting a career in medical billing and coding is to go through an interview and win that first job. Interviewing is a skill and it requires practice to get good at it. Your resume, your portfolio, and all your educational experiences will not matter if you do not interview well. You can learn interviewing skills through the career services department, but you can also practice on your own. Have a friend or family member come up with a list of questions an employer may ask and then role play an interview. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will feel in the real interview, and the better your chances of making a good impression.
Becoming a medical biller and coder is a great career achievement, but it takes work and all of these steps to get there. If you are willing to do the research and find out if this is the right career for you, complete a training program, get certified, and let others help you prepare to apply and interview for positions, you can achieve your dream of having a great health care career.
When you’re ready to get started, contact FTC to learn more about our medical billing and coding classes and how to enroll. By following all these steps and allowing our experienced instructors to guide and train you, a career in medical billing and coding will be just around the corner.