Medical coding is a profession that has enormous appeal to anyone considering a career in the medical field, and particularly those wishing to start an at-home business. Training is not as lengthy as that of a physician and it is definitely a female-friendly occupation. While this is all well and good, the work still has to pay the bills just like any other career, which is why it is important to understand the salary figures before starting a career in this growing profession.
Because of the wide range of educational programs, places of work and hours worked, it is often hard to pin down the exact compensation associated with the profession. It becomes increasingly difficult when you consider the fact that many medical coders work from home, thus eliminating some of the costs associated with a typical job, such as commute, eating lunch out, etc. In order to best understand the wages earned by industry professionals, it is important to look at the data from a variety of angles; the primary purpose of which is to see how things such as location, state, practice size, and certification type can influence how much money you will ultimately earn.
Hourly and Annual Salary Averages
As calculated by the United States Government Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of a medical coding professional relies on the following criteria:
- Places of work – e.g. hospitals, clinics, insurance industries, from home, etc.
- Location and setting of these places.
- Average amount of hours worked per week.
Their findings were based on the assumption that a 40 hour work week was typical with a total of 2080 hours each year worked. Of course, this doesn’t take into consideration the many professionals who moonlight from home or in clinics after putting in 40+ hours each week in a hospital.
Hourly, the median medical coding salary across the United States is $16.29 per hour, with the lowest 10% earning $10.03 per hour and the highest 10% earning over $24.76 each hour. Annually, the median salary across the United States is $33,880, with the lowest 10% earning $21,240 per year and the highest 10% earning over $53,430 each year.
Highest and Lowest Salary Locations
Rather than by state, discussing the actual workplaces where you can find the highest and lowest salary figures will allow you to ascertain which places are the best for you to find work that is suited to your standards of living.
The lowest average salaries are often found in rural areas and areas with a lot of medical schools. Because the cost of living and other factors are typically lower in these places, the hourly wages are slightly offset, but still fairly low at $11.00 per hour. The highest salaries are often found in heavily populated areas and urban settings where the cost of living may be higher, seeing wages shoot up to $25.00 per hour on average.
Average Salary by State
Additionally, the salary of medical coding experts varies state by state. Because different states have different demands for coding jobs, the salaries are different. For instance, a lower salary state may not have much need for coding specialists so they do not pay as much, while a higher salary state may be a location that is in high demand for coders. As with the pay, the hours and workloads will also vary by state and according to the pay.
|State||Annual Mean Wage||State||Annual Mean Wage|
Percentage of Medical Coders by Salary
Here’s a look at the percentage of industry professionals who earn compensation in the various salary ranges. For example, 1% of all medical coders net less than $20,000 annually while 2% make between $100,000 and $150,000 per year. This rather large variance comes from differing levels of education, training, location of workplace and hours worked.
|Annual Salary Range||Percentage||Annual Salary Range||Percentage|
|Less than $20,000||1%||$60,000 - $65,000||4%|
|$20,000 - $25,000||4%||$65,000 - $70,000||3%|
|$25,000 - $30,000||8%||$70,000 - $75,000||2%|
|$30,000 - $35,000||15%||$75,000 - $80,000||1%|
|$35,000 - $40,000||19%||$80,000 - $85,000||1%|
|$40,000 - $45,000||14%||$85,000 - $90,000||1%|
|$45,000 - $50,000||11%||$90,000 - $100,000||1%|
|$50,000 - $55,000||8%||$100,000 - $150,000||2%|
|$55,000 - $60,000||5%||More than $150,000||<1%|
Average Salary by Practice Size
Yet another factor that alters salary figures is the size of the group, practice, company or institution an individual is working for. As you can see below, the highest paid medical coders are self-employed while the lowest come from those working in a solo practice (ex: a private doctor with no partners). Of course, these are just averages and there is nothing saying that you will make these salaries if you work from home or that you can’t make well over the home-salary working for a private doctor.
|Size of Practice||Annual Mean Wage|
|Small Group (2-10 providers)||$41,700|
|Medium Group (11-49 providers)||$41,200|
|Large Group (50 or more providers)||$44,900|
Salary by Certification Type
Certification is the best means to secure higher wages. AAPC conducts annual salary surveys within the profession to assess wage experience. Their findings show that a non-certified coder with one year of experience, on average, makes $30,175 per year. Certified coders, on the other hand, with one year of experience make an annual wage of $34,551. The 14.5% difference should be enough to convince anyone to seek certification. The Association even goes a step further and lists salary figures for various types of certifications.
|Certification Type||Annual Mean Wage|
If medical coding seems like something you might want to make a career out of, read Medical Coding Jobs and Employment Information to find out more about the many opportunities available in the industry.