Medical coders go by many names, but their responsibilities are generally the same: translating physician notes into “codes” that can be understood and processed by insurance companies. What Is Medical Coding? It’s a demanding job, but with salaries and job openings on the rise, it can be a lucrative career for those with the right skills. Here are just a few ways to determine if medical coding is a good professional path for you.
Medical coding is offered as a two-year degree at some colleges. It’s also frequently bundled with or considered a specialty for health information technology degrees. Not every employer will require a college degree to work as a medical coder, but some professional certifications have it as a prerequisite, so it can be a good foundation of study if you’re interested in sitting for certification exams someday. Additionally, it can provide the education that you do need for a job, which is extensive and ever-evolving as the healthcare industry constantly changes. Last but not least, going to college can offer extra ways to get ahead in the medical coding field, including interning, attending job fairs, and networking with professors and other students.
There’s a lot more to medical coding than just understanding medical terminology. Training programs will require you to learn everything from anatomy to physiology in addition to memorizing things like the Health Care Procedural Coding System, the International Classification of Diseases, and Current Procedure Terminology. You can self-study these topics, but it’s extremely difficult without the structure of a standardized training program. If you can’t find one in your area, consider online medical coding courses that will allow you to learn from home. They’ll teach you to the same standards as other courses while allowing for greater flexibility in your education.
Certification can prove that you have the education or experience required for a high-paying job. One of the most common is the Certified Professional Coder (CPC), but you can also look into becoming a Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) or a Certified Medical Coder (CMC). All of these require an exam, but they have different prerequisites in terms of degrees and years of experience. If you’re interested in a niche area of medical coding, you might also consider certification in a specialty such as an inpatient/outpatient coding or risk adjustment coding.
The demand for medical coders is on the rise, so it’s a great time to explore the industry and see what opportunities are out there. If you feel like it would be a fulfilling career path for you, consider a future in medical coding.