Medical Billing and Coding Certification, How Do I Get One?

If you’re thinking about going into medical billing and coding, you’re going to need to meet the requirements for certification.  You won’t have to earn a postgraduate degree to get a job as a biller or coder, but you will need to prove your knowledge on an exam.  By passing the exam and getting certified, you demonstrate to potential employers that you have what it takes to perform well on the job and that your knowledge meets current standards.  What are the requirements for medical billing and coding certification, and how do you start learning everything you need to pass the exam?

Medical Billing and Coding Certification Training

To get started, you’re going to need to select an accredited course from a university, trade school, or online university.  As you can see, you have plenty of options when it comes to figuring out where you want to get your education from.  Different environments may offer you specific advantages and disadvantages, so think this through before you choose.  medical billing and coding certificationTraining at a trade school or local university gives you more opportunity for hands-on learning and interaction, but it will cost you more money.  An online university will give you less hands-on learning experience, but it will save you money and also time.  Make your decision based off of your schedule and budget and what you need to do to keep up with your present responsibilities.

How long is it going to take you to get all the information you need to take the certification exam?  Most people are ready in just a semester, since you only need to take a few courses.  You aren’t going to earn a degree, so this is a quick educational route into the job market.  You should be able to finish up in under a year easily.  How long you take will depend on how difficult the information is for you to master and how much time you can dedicate to your studies.  You’ll then need to register for the certification exam.

The organization which is responsible for providing certification to medical billers and coders is AAPC.  The Medical Coding Certification exam allows you to test your knowledge of ICD-9-CM, CPT®, and HCPCS Level II codes.  AAPC’s website is a good resource you can use to plan your training from start to finish.  AAPC itself offers courses online and in classrooms for medical billing, medical coding, and other administrative disciplines that are relevant to the healthcare industry.  These courses are a great choice for your training since they will teach you specifically what you need to know to pass the official certification exams.  Since they are offered by the same company which makes the exam, you can be assured of consistency in your education.

Finding a Job with Your Medical Billing and Coding Certification

It’s easy to think that you’ll be spending a lot of time preparing for your career, but the reality is that you’re going to probably get through your courses and pass your exam almost before you know it.  Since you’ll then be ready to embark on your new career, you’ll want to be thinking about your job search now, even though you won’t actually start applying for jobs until you’ve been certified and have your resume ready.

Your resume is actually one thing you can start working on right away.  You’re not required to have any prior experience in the medical administrative field in order to get an entry-level job as a biller or coder, which makes this job highly accessible.  At the same time, however, you’re going to want to draw attention to whatever skills and experience you do have.  Even though there are more openings in this field than in most, there is still competition for those openings.  Your resume won’t be finished of course until you can add your certification to it.

Start thinking about the kind of job you would like as well.  You’ll obviously need to choose between billing or coding (for now), but you also have other considerations to make.  Do you want to try and pursue a specialty in order to make more money?  What type of work environment appeals to you?  Do you want to work in a huge, busy hospital?  Or would you prefer a quieter small clinic with a slower pace of business?  Medical billing and coding certification also gives you the option of working at home.  There are a lot of posts for online work, but in other fields you’re not going to find a whole lot of opportunities that are actually for real.  Medical billing and coding jobs you see online are actually legitimate and will offer you real and reliable work.

On AAPC’s website and on work at home job boards and other employment boards, you’ll be able to search for medical billing and coding jobs that are full-time, part-time, contracted work, or consultancy-based.  You’ll also have the option of searching for an internship, which is something you may wish to do while you are still getting your education.  Some work experience in a real office gives you a chance to be sure that medical administrative work is really for you.  It also may help you to meet other professionals who ultimately may be able to recommend you for a work opportunity after your training is complete and you’ve acquired your certification.

Medical billing and coding are two of the fastest-growing career fields in the US.  With an aging population that needs more medical care, hospitals and clinics are only going to be getting busier in the coming years.  That means that there is a great need not only for doctors, nurses, and medical assistants, but also for billers, coders, and other support staff.  A Medical billing and coding salary is unlikely to make you a lot of money, but they may be able to provide you with a steady income in a time when that in itself represents a great blessing.

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