Should You Become a Medical Billing and Coding Specialist?

Getting career training could be your next step

Photo with abstract graphical overlay shows student training to become a Medical Billing & Coding specialist.Are you a high school senior, trying to figure out your next step in life? Are you someone who is looking for a career change? Are you underemployed and looking for a new direction? If you fit this description, then getting career-focused training may be a good option for you.

Career-focused training offers many different career choices. This article looks at one career option in particular: How to become a Medical Billing and Coding Specialist. This career choice may be a good match for you if:

  • You like the idea of an office job in a professional setting
  • You would like to work in the healthcare field
  • You are detail-oriented and conscientious
  • You want a short-term training program that can be completed in one year

Find out more about this job field with our Frequently Asked Questions below.

Q: What do Medical Billing and Coding Specialists do?

A: Medial billers and medical coders are behind-the-scenes employees at doctors’ offices and hospitals. They handle the administrative end of getting medical bills paid. If you go to medical billing and coding school, you will get trained in both the billing and the coding procedures. Once you get into the workforce, you will often find that medical biller and medical coder are two separate jobs, and you will be qualified for both.

  • Medical coders are responsible for assigning specialized codes to the patients’ insurance claims, so that the medical insurers know exactly what diagnoses were made and what procedures were provided.
  • Medical billers are responsible for submitting completed insurance claims to the insurers. They also follow up on the reimbursements, track down any late payments, and keep the billing records up-to-date.

For more information on the day-to-day responsibilities of medical billers and coders, read What It’s Like to be a Health Claims Specialist.

Q: How do you get trained as a medical biller or medical coder?

A: To get training, there are number of options. You can look at private career training schools in your area or see if your local community college or technical college have training programs. Most private career schools—like the American College for Medical Careers in Orlando, Florida—require that you have your high school diploma (or equivalent) before enrolling. Once you enroll, you can expect your coursework to include topics such as:

  • Understanding basic medical terminology
  • Understanding basic insurance terminology
  • Learning how to submit claims for Medicaid, Medicare, Workers Comp, and private insurers
  • Learning the specialized systems for medical coding (ICD-10, CPT-4)
  • Learning how to enter information into Electronic Health Records

Q: How long do you have to go to school for medical billing and coding?

A: For people interested in this career field, the great news is that you do not need a four-year college degree. You can enroll in a diploma program that can have you trained in just about one year. That’s a relatively short investment of time to gain marketable skills. Some people choose to get an associate’s degree, which is typically a two-year program, but this is not necessary to enter this field.

Q: Is medical billing and coding school hard?

A: Yes and no. Yes, it is hard, in that you need to attend all of your classes, do all of your homework, and pass all of your exams. But no, it is not hard if you put your mind to it and do the work that is required. The course instructors understand that you are a beginner, and they will teach each new skill and concept one step at a time. Your school may also offer extra support if you are having trouble.

Q: How much does medical billing and coding school cost?

A: The answer to this question will depend on the school you choose. Wherever you choose, be sure to find out if the school accepts financial aid. And if so, your first step should be to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application helps determine whether the school will offer you an aid package. For more information on the FAFSA, try this guide on How to Fill Out the FAFSA.

Q: Are medical billers and coders in demand?

A: Before choosing any career training program, it’s a great idea to do some research on what the job market is like. Will there be many job openings in your new career field? For the field of medical billing and coding, the job outlook for the future is positive. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Employment of health information technicians is projected to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.” This positive projection is based on the aging of the baby boom population, and the resulting need for more medical services.

Q: How much do medical billing and coding specialists make?

A: The type of wage or salary you can expect in this position will depend on a number of factors, such as your experience, geographic region, and your employer. To get an idea, try looking at job postings in your region to see if they post the salary. Also try the Occupational Outlook Handbook section on Pay or the American Academy of Professional Coders’ salary survey.

If you think this may be a career path for your future, then there’s no time like the present to get started. Many programs accept applications year-round. Your new career could be just around the corner!

The American College for Medical Careers offers a medical billing and coding training program in Orlando, Florida. For residents of the Orange County area, check out this program as well as the other career-focused training programs at ACMC. To find out more, just reach out to us. You can call us at (407)-738-4488, fill out our simple online information form, or sign up for a tour of our facilities. We’d love to welcome you to our school!