What Are the Educational Requirements for Medical Coders?

Education is crucial to both employment and advancement in much of today’s workforce. While engineers, lawyers, and doctors typically make great money, it is often the result of years and years of study. Many people do not have the time or money necessary for 6+ years of schooling after high school, yet everybody wants a lucrative career; fortunately, medical coding offers such an opportunity.

High School Diploma or G.E.D.

Absolutely essential for the medical coding field is a high school diploma or G.E.D. That should not come as a surprise as both are recognized requirements for most training and/or higher education. That being said, the fundamental aspects of coding can ordinarily be learned in a course of study that lasts up to eighteen months (oftentimes, much less). While a prospective student should be wary of short term “crash” programs, proficiency doesn’t necessarily take years to master.

Higher Education / Degree Programs

The CAHIIM website has a searchable program directory for CAHIIM accredited degree programs where a person can pursue a baccalaureate degree in healthcare information management (HIM). Incidentally, there is a growing belief that an associate degree or higher is extremely important for job seekers, and as such, this is the direction the industry is beginning to take. Generally speaking, this is a good thing. Medical billing and coding is becoming an increasingly important part of healthcare administration, and the need for a larger skill set is simply a consequence of this growth. Those who understand and respect this need will benefit in the years to come.

Certifications

While earning a certification is not required by most employers, it can be a great way for an entry level (or other) professional to set themselves apart from other applicants and hone their skill set. Further, a salary survey conducted by the AAPC reports that certified coders earn approximately 17% more money than non-certified coders.

Some of the most recognized certifications are provided by the AAPC, who also offer a number of courses – both classroom and online – to prepare an individual for the Certified Professional Coder (CPC┬«) examination, as well as other specialty certifications. The AHIMA has a number of certification programs as well, all of which can enhance the qualifications of an individual. The AAPC and AHIMA are not the only institutions that offer these educational opportunities, however, as a quick internet search will uncover several other reputable programs, such as Medical Coding Experts.

Continuing Education

Developments in medical coding suggest that the technical skills required will mandate a person to take additional classes in order to stay on top of things. As a result, it is highly advised that anyone pursuing a career in the field adopt a habit of taking continuing education courses, the purpose of which will be to keep connected to the profession and conversant in new developments. Still, the educational requirements are such that a person who is willing to put in the work can quickly become proficient; surely, advancement and career satisfaction will result.

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