What You Should Know About This Degree
Besides education, the most important step in becoming a medical biller and coder is getting certified through an agency like the American Health Information Management Agency (AHIMA) or the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC). They offer nationally-recognized certifications that confirm to employers that you have the necessary training in medical coding and billing. You must pay a fee and pass an examination to earn certification. Many programs will cover the fee for one attempt at a certification exam.
The field of medical billing and coding is ever-evolving, as regulations and procedures are updated on a continuous basis. Select a program that regularly updates its curriculum to reflect changes in the industry, so that you are learning the skills you need to obtain certification.
The minimum level of education needed for a medical biller and coder is a post-seconday certificate, but some students choose to obtain an associate’s degree, as it is good preparation if you intend to pursue a bachelor’s in a related field.
Many medical billing and coding programs are offered online. However, they may have experiential learning components, like job shadowing or practicums. Review the program’s curriculum to find out if there are any in-person requirements, so you can determine if they will fit into your schedule.
Here are some questions to ask when researching Medical Coding programs:
- Can certificate credits be applied to future degree programs? Some schools offer both certificate and associate’s degree programs in medical coding and billing, and allow students to apply credits from the certificate program to the degree. If you are interested in obtaining a degree in the future, selecting a school that will allow this can help you save time and money.
- Is the program eligible for financial aid? In most cases, only students enrolled in degree-granting programs, not certificates, are eligible for federal financial aid. If receiving federal financial aid is a consideration for you, talk to the school’s financial aid office to find out what your eligibility is, so you can choose a program that’s right for you.
Research the program’s admission requirements and deadlines as well, and prepare application materials well ahead of their due date. This will help your admissions process go as smoothly as possible. You can find admissions information on the program’s website, or by contacting the school’s admissions office directly.