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Interested in a healthcare career without hands-on patient care? An online associate degree in medical coding and billing can lead to a meaningful career in medical and government venues. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that in 2014, the top five employers of medical records and health information technicians according to mean annual salaries were:

  • Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing: $50,170
  • Drugs and druggists' sundries merchant wholesalers: $49,520
  • Legal Services: $48,680
  • Federal Executive Branch (BLS Occupational Employment Statistics Designation): $47,070
  • Management, Scientific and Technical Consulting Services: $45,850

Nationally, the median hourly wage for medical coding and billing specialists in 2014 was $17.26, with a median annual salary of $35,900.

Associate degree in medical coding and billing and certification requirements

The great thing about earning an associate degree in medical coding and billing is that the associate degree is typically required for entry level positions. Requirements for achieving certification through the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) is earning an associate degree in medical coding and billing or related field accredited by the Commission on Accreditation on Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIME).

Your online associate degree in medical coding and billing will require study in a variety of subjects; most colleges require subjects including the humanities, sciences and mathematics in addition to coursework major-related subjects such as:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Clinical classification and coding
  • Data analysis
  • Database management and security
  • Health care reimbursement systems
  • Health data requirements and standards
  • Health information technology
  • Medical terminology
  • Quality improvement

An online associate degree in medical coding and billing provides the training you'll need, but offers the convenience and flexibility of studying where and when you can.

Medical coding and billing jobs and credentials

Coding and billing specialists use medical coding systems to identify and track health conditions, treatment protocols, and billing for medical treatment. The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) provides credentialing for medical coding professionals. Specialized coding jobs require accreditation through the Board of Medical Specialty Coding (BSMC) or the Professional Association of Health care Coding Specialists (PAHCS). Medical coding and billing specialists affiliated with the National Cancer Registry must be credentialed by the National Cancer Registrars Association (NCRA) for designation as a Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR).

Medical coding and billing degree: Career opportunities

As the population of the U.S. ages, demand for health services is expected to increase, and the demand for health information technicians is expected to grow 22 percent in the next several years. That's about twice the rate of growth for all occupations combined. The need will be particularly acute for cancer registrars and other special-purpose registries as more illnesses are detected and treatment prolongs the lives of patients. There will also be high demand for those with certification in health information and technicians with computer skills needed to manage electronic health records.

You can prepare for a career as a medical coding and billing technician in about two years of full-time study. Federal financial aid is available to students meeting enrollment requirements in an accredited school and program. Check out online associate degree programs in medical coding and billing, and discuss financial aid options with your school's financial aid department.

Sources

Medical Records and Health information Technicians. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014: 6/23/15: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292071.htm

Medical Records and Health Information Technicians. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook. 6/23/15: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-records-and-health-information-technicians.htm#tab-6

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