Medical Coders in Demand for 2016
Looking to kick off the New Year with a new career?
Medical coding could be a great option. Here’s why:
- According to this American Academy of Professional Coders survey, medical coders saw an average 8.4% salary increase in 2014.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook predicts that medical records and health information technician positions will increase 22% between 2012 and 2022, which is much faster than average.
- The demand for medical coders positions is expected to increase as regulations become more complex and our population continues to age.
The talent market for medical coders is already strained, and increased demand will continue to drive salaries up. In other words, it’s a great time to become a medical coder!
What does a medical coder do?
Relying heavily on ICD-10 and CPT code books, coders take the first steps in the medical billing process, by translating physicians’ notes and other documentation into useful medical codes.
To thrive as a medical coder, you should have strong analytical skills, attention to detail, and technical skills. Medical advances continually expand the coding lexicon, so staying at the top of your field requires continual learning.
How can you become one?
If you’re interested in starting a career in this field, education and certification are essential to making yourself employable and earning more money. Here’s what you need:
- A basic medical and billing certificate. This is the quickest (and least costly) road to finding an entry-level job in the healthcare information industry.
- An associate degree. A two-year medical coding degree program offers more in-depth information and training in coding. Many employers prefer to hire coders with a degree, as opposed to a certificate.
- A bachelor’s degree. A four-year Bachelor of Arts degree in health information and management provides a much broader range of knowledge in health information – greatly increasing your employment opportunities and earning potential.
- Certification. Most employers prefer to hire coders with a professional certification, because certification validates both knowledge and skills proficiency. Two popular options are the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) and Certified Outpatient Coder (COC). Once you obtain certification, you must regularly take continuing education courses to maintain it.