Top 10 Frequently Asked Questions About Medical Coding Schools

Whether you’re currently enrolled in a program, or just starting to research schools, this article will hopefully answer some of your lingering questions about all aspects of medical coding schools; from application and completion.

Q: Should I Go to Medical Coding School?

A. While a college degree is not required to become a medical coder in most settings, it is highly encouraged for those looking to have a career in the profession. Similar to many other occupations, quality education typically leads to more job offers, higher pay, and greater opportunity for advancement. Nowadays, most employers require – at the very least – some form of certification or certificate from an accredited program. This involves taking a prep course (typically lasting 9 – 12 months) and sitting for a certification exam; the most common of which are provided by either the AAPC or AHIMA.

Q: Can I Go to School Online?

A: Yes, it is possible to go to school online. In order to find the appropriate online school, you can either do a Google search or go to the AAPC website to find accredited online certification programs. When looking for online programs, it’s imperative that any program you pick is accredited by the AAPC.

Q: What’s the First Step of Applying for School?

A: Your first step should be to talk to an admissions representative at all of the schools with which you’re considering. They can guide you through the admissions process that is unique to their school or program. An admissions representative can tell you about program deadlines, tuition costs, and any educational requirements that may be in place at their school. Never pay tuition without talking to an admissions representative or a school employee first. What they say is true: the only stupid question is the one that isn’t asked.

Q: How Long Is the Average Program?

A: Even though it can vary from program to program, the average length is between nine months to a year. Upon completion, you’ll be able to work in medical offices, hospitals, insurance and government offices. If you choose to obtain one or more certifications, you can pretty much work at any place that deals with medical records of any sort and type. Where you work will greatly depend upon your local area and personal employment interests.

Q: What Courses Will I Take?

A: You’ll actually take a wide variety of courses. One of the first academic programs you’ll be embarking upon is an anatomy and physiology course load. Once that’s done, you’ll learn the current versions of software most commonly used in the workplace. You’ll also receive additional training in different aspects of the medical coding field, such as office management and privacy issues. These courses don’t vary much between different programs. As such, they can be found in most – if not all – accredited medical programs.

Q: Will Going to School Help Me Get a Job in the Field?

A: Yes. Most accredited medical coding schools have career services offices that can help students and graduates apply for jobs both within their local area and nationwide. Despite the fact that career services offices can be found at most schools, the quality of these programs can vary greatly. To determine which school has a career services office that will help in your post graduation job search, you should talk to former students currently working in the field. They are the best source for information on the quality of leads and information you can expect to gain from the school’s career services office.

Q: How Much Does the Average Program Cost?

A: This figure can vary greatly depending on the program. It can also be different depending on whether the program is taking place in a classroom, on a brick and mortar campus, or in an online environment. However, the vast majority of medical coding programs in the United States cost between $1,000 and $2,000.

Q: Is Financial Aid Available?

A: Yes. Most people are eligible to receive financial aid. To get the process started, you’ll need to fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). You may then receive financial aid in the form of grants (which you don’t have to pay back) and/or loans (which you do have to pay back). The amount of federal grants and/or loans you receive will depend on your income from the previous year. You may also need to provide additional documentation to your prospective school’s financial aid office.

Q: Are There Alternative Ways to Finance My Courses?

A: If you don’t want to apply for financial aid, the first place you should look is your employer. Many employers in the United States have employee reimbursement programs, which offer reimbursement from your employer for certain types of educational programs. If your employer has this type of program, check with your human resources representative to see if medical coding programs fit under the policy’s auspices. Some employers only reimburse their employees for educational programs that are related to the services that the employer provides to the public. For example, if you work for an aquarium, your employer may only provide reimbursement if you plan on advancing your career in the oceanic sciences.

Q: Are Credentials Required to Become a Medical Coder?

A: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the vast majority of employers in the medical field require their medical coders to have some sort of recognized credential, such as that from the AAPC or AHIMA.

Hopefully, most of your questions have been answered in this article. The medical coding field is an exciting one to enter, but it will be even more so if you enter the training process as prepared as possible. If you have additional questions pertaining to training programs or schools, please feel free to submit your question through our online form.

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