How Does a Medical Coder’s Salary Vary by Experience?

There is a lot of information about the pay granted to medical coders and most of it is quite good. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median wage of a medical coder is slightly over $32,000 a year. This is fairly encouraging news, especially for a job that does not, as of yet, require a college degree. The Bureau’s pay figures could make a person believe that this type of money will be paid out even to those who are looking for their first job in the field. The sobering news is that this is not the way it works in the business world. Median is the middle ground in the compensation picture, which means that roughly half  of people will make more than the Bureau’s figure, and the other half will make less. Factors other than just simple knowledge of facts will determine who gets the higher salary, and experience is one of them.

Why Experience Pays

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Experience weighs heavily on compensation because it impacts the ability to take what is learned in training and apply it to the day-to-day tasks of the profession. Knowledge alone doesn’t make money in medical coding; accuracy does. Experienced coders must be familiar with the working habits of the doctors and other healthcare professionals working for or with the medical facility. Such relationships built over the years helps cut down on the time spent processing bills and other records. As such, experience helps assure profitability increasing efficiency and lowering error rates – both of which make a difference to a company’s bottom line.

How Much More Can an Experienced Coder Make?

Experience eventually works to the advantage of a medical coder and the results can be rather dramatic. According to recent salary surveys conducted by AAPC, a certified professional with one year of experience makes approximately $30,000 on average. After five years, the average is roughly $10,000 dollars more. Add additional education to this experience and the job becomes even more lucrative. The higher pay as the years progress, particularly if the individual is committed to lifelong learning, can make medical coding a very financially rewarding career.

Other Factors That Influence Pay

Something else to remember regarding wages and experience is that there are other variables that come into play – three of which include:

  1. Job Setting: For example, it can happen that a medical coder working in an outpatient hospital will make more than an experienced coder working in home health.
  2. Geographical Location: The cost of living in some parts of the country may force an employer to pay more than those in other areas. This means a worker with less experience could technically earn more money than one with more.
  3. Work Ethic: The person who is reliable, works overtime, and is highly accurate with their coding is the kind of person who will earn higher than average raises.

These are all part of the equation that goes into determining compensation levels. Nevertheless, it is safe to say that additional years of experience and more time spent applying the skills of the trade, will result in a higher level of pay.

Final Words

Careers span a long length of time and the better the compensation, the more likely a person is to stay in that occupation. Salary surveys suggest that experience is a factor in determining a coder’s salary and there is no reason to think that will change anytime soon. Add some additional education into the mix and the resulting paycheck can grow even larger with time.

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