HOW TO BECOME A MEDICAL CODER - 5 STEP GUIDE TO WORK FROM HOME

If you read our blog on ‘Medical Billing and Coding from Home – All You Need to Know’ you would have picked up that work-life balance and freedom to choose when and where to work is pretty important to us here at Love Work at Home.

And if I were to hazard a guess, I’d say it’s important to you too.

By the end of this 5 step guide on how to become a medical coder and work from home, you’ll have a better understanding about what education and certification you need, finding it online, completing it and looking for the best job that will give you the work-life balance you deserve.

Before we dive straight into it, if you’d like some more information on the medical billing and coding job description, average salaries, training, certification and companies that hire, you’ll want to check out this Love Work at Home blog – ‘Medical Billing and Coding from Home – All You Need to Know

become a medical coder

Let’s jump into it!

STEP 1 – CHECK EDUCATION/CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS

To metaphorically get your feet in the starting blocks of your medical coding career, you’ll need to take care of a few pre-requisites. If you wish to enrol yourself into a medical coding certificate or diploma course, technically you only need a high school diploma or a GED equivalency.

On that, to ensure you’re a viable candidate to employers and increase the chances of attracting a great starting salary, you’ll want to look into training and certification.

You may have heard the saying ‘a medical coder aint a medical coder’… or I may have just made it up. Either way, it’s true.

The first step to answering our question on how to become a medical coder is to dive a little deeper so you better understand the differences between the various types of medical coding.

Following are some of the titles in which you can acquire training or do a course:

  • Medical Records Coordinator
  • Coder
  • Medical Coding Specialist
  • Medical Billing Specialist
  • Medical Records Technician (or Medical Records Tech)
  • Health Information Specialist
  • Medical Records Clerk
  • Health Information Clerk
  • Medical Records Analyst
  • Health Information Technician (or Health Information Tech)
  • Medical Billing Manager
  • Medical Records Director

Once you familiarize yourself with the various types of medical billing and coding that sound appealing to you, you’ll want to check job search engines like indeed.com, flexjobs.com, linkedin.com and glassdoor.com, filtering out the roles and companies that sound good.

Do you want to work for a company that’s closer to home with partial remote / partial onsite, or are you more interested in full remote and location independent? Either way, you’ll know which roles and companies appeal to you.

medical billing coding certification

For each of these appealing roles and companies, check the employer’s requirements, keeping tabs on your findings.

When you start to see a trend in the education and certification requirements, this will be the best guide for the qualifications you should gain.

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STEP 2 – SEARCH ONLINE FOR EDUCATION AND CERTIFICATION OPTIONS

If you are thinking about how to become a medical coder from home, you can enjoy the fact that you don’t have to step out of your home to learn anything.

Why not try and gain your education and certification online in the comfort of your home?

You’ll be happy to know that there are a huge number of medical coding courses online. So it’s a matter of choosing from the best schools that employers will recognize as reputable.

Following are three of the most accredited schools to kick start your online search for education and certification:

American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC): This academy features multiple online medical billing and coding courses along with certified coaches to help you along the way.

AAPC logo original

Image credit AAPC

Sullivan University:  This school offers a Medical Coding Diploma which is a 47-credit program running for 12- months if the students pursue it at a full-time pace.

Hutchinson Community College:  This College offers a Healthcare Coding Specialist Certificate to their students which opens up the doors to “coding positions in hospitals, clinics, ambulatory surgery centers, insurance companies and other settings where diagnostic and procedural data are coded”.

STEP 3 – ENROL IN A MEDICAL CODING COURSE

On your journey to work out how to become a medical coder, prior to choosing an online course you’ll want to understand the difference between the following levels of education. Usually there are four choices available:

  1. Training Courses: Training courses serve the purpose to provide specialised training. You can do a training course after completing any basic program in the field.
  2. Certificate or Diploma Program: A certificate should not be confused with certification. See Step 4 for more on this. A certificate or diploma program for medical coding and billing often covers basic or general subjects and post-secondary education.
  3. Associate Program: This adds diversity to your medical billing and coding career. People who complete an associate degree get to have more career options in the field.
  4. Bachelor’s Program:  A Bachelor’s degree is a 3-4 year degree plan for those who specifically want to proceed and acquire specialised training in medical billing and coding.

Also, if you’re intending to become certified (you should work this out in Step 1), you’ll want to ensure that whatever course you enrol in is an eligible lead-up course to the certification exam. This takes us to Step 4.

STEP 4 – OBTAIN MEDICAL BILLING & CODING CERTIFICATION

So we’ve covered checking what education you require, searching online for where and how you can obtain this education from the comfort of your home, and enrolling in a course.

We’re getting closer to working out how to become a medical coder, but what about certification?

Firstly, if getting a certificate in medical billing and coding isn’t certification, then what is??

Well, medical billing coding certification requires you to complete a preparation course (Step 3) that will give you the knowledge you need to enrol in, and pass, a certification examination.

In this examination you must exhibit an in-depth understanding of one or more essential code sets such as:

  • International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-10-CM)
  • Current Procedural Terminology (CPT)
  • Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) Level II

Some of the different types of certifications offered by different organizations in the industry include:

  • Certified Professional Coder (CPC)
  • Certified Coding Specialist (CCS)
  • Certified Medical Coder (CMC)
  • Certified Outpatient Coder (COC) or Certified Inpatient Coder (CIC)
  • Certified Risk Adjustment Coder (CRC)

Similar to Step 2 where we recommended choosing a school that employers would recognize as reputable, same goes for institutions that offer certification.

medical billing and coding training

To help on this, in Step 1 you may also want to check if prospective employers note a certain type of certification that they want to see in their applicants. For example, if they note that CRC certification is required then through a simple online search you can see that AAPC is just about the only reputable search result.

STEP 5 – BECOME A MEDICAL CODER AND FIND A JOB

This guide about how to become a medical coder will add more value if prospective jobs are also discussed.

According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2018 there were 215,500 medical records and health information technician jobs available in the healthcare sector.

Further, the BLS project an 11% change in employment for the decade from 2018-2028, which is miles ahead of the average growth rate of 5% for all occupations.

So, after you’ve passed your certification exams, you should be all good to find a job worth your time and talent.

Another Love Work at Home blog titled ‘Medical Billing and Coding from Home – All You Need to Know’  has a complete list of reputable companies that look for talented and qualified home based medical coders and billers.

Start sending your resume to various medical billing and coding companies and get the wheels turning on your fruitful, fulfilling medical billing and coding career.

CONCLUSION

Between this blog on how to become a medical coder and our other blog on medical billing and coding from home, you’re now more ready than ever before to carve out your path in the medical billing and coding industry as someone who Loves Work at Home.

To jog your memory, the 5 step guide above walked you through:

  • Steps 1 & 2 – Checking education and certification requirements and finding online options
  • Steps 3 & 4 – Enrolling and completing your chosen medical coding education and certifications
  • Step 5 – Finding and applying for medical coding jobs from home

If any part of this blog on how to become a medical coder helped you, we’d be endlessly thankful if you’d share it freely so that someone else can also discover the fruitful world of medical billing and coding from home.

Have a great day!

INSTANTLY EMAILED JOB ALERTS, DON’T GET LEFT BEHIND

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