Do I Need a Degree to Work in Medical Coding and Billing

medical billing and coding

What Type of Training Do I Need To Become a Medical Coding and Billing Professional?

One of the more popular health care degrees these days is medical billing and coding. Typically accomplished in as little as 6 months (and up to 2 years), this degree prepares graduates to work in a physician’s office, insurance agency, or hospital, primarily with charting and insurance processing. The position is also commonly known as medical records specialist.

In the United States, a medical biller/coder does not have to have a degree. There are no federal or state regulations requiring a degree or certification in order to work in the field, and many of the top professionals working today learned everything they know on the job.

Why Go to Medical Billing and Coding School?

While you don’t have to have a degree in order to work in medical billing and coding, there are some pretty large advantages to having the right eduction. Degree programs in the field range from certificates to 4 or even 6-year degrees, and the general rule is: the higher your education, the more money you’ll make.

This isn’t a guarantee, but those with advanced degrees are more likely to rise to positions of management than those without. If you intend to work in the field for some time, and would like to advance within the profession, education is your friend. And in many cases, the shorter vocational programs are on equal footing with the lengthier degree programs, at least in terms of what employers are looking for.

Of course, there are other professional goals to aspire for, as well. Once you have your education, you can become certified and/or registered through various accrediting bodies, which include:

  • Professional Association of Health Care Coding Specialists (PAHCS)
  • American Association of Professional Coders (AAPC)
  • Board of Medical Specialty Coding (BMSC)
  • National Cancer Registrars Association (NCRA)

How to Become a Medical Biller and Coder

If you’re interested in exploring this field, your best first step is to contact employers in your area. Talk to them about what they look for in candidates and tailor your education accordingly. If they have an apprenticeship program (or if they’ll pay for your school while you work for them), you may not need to start with a traditional education.

If they indicate they always hire from a particular billing and coding school, you may want to look into that educational institution.

If, like most people, your end goal is gainful employment, research is the best way to get started on the right foot. By knowing what employers expect, you can move in that direction to save both time and money—and all with a great future in sight!


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