How to Become a Medical Coder: 5 Simple Step By Step Process of Becoming a Medical Coder

How to Become a Medical Coder: 5 Simple Step By Step Process of Becoming a Medical Coder

Medical coders play an important role in the healthcare system. Whenever you have a doctor's appointment, the physician or nurse records notes about what procedures took place or what was diagnosed. Using their knowledge of thousands of medical codes, payment policies and government regulations, medical coders take medical records and code them for billing and insurance purposes.

Without them, the medical field wouldn't know what to charge for each procedure, and insurance. Companies wouldn't be able to cover your care properly. Now that you know a little more about what the position, read ahead to learn how you can become one.

Step 1: Meet the basic prerequisites

First thing's first: To become a medical coder, you will need a high school diploma or equivalent. You also will need to pass a background check. Applicants with a criminal history involving drug offenses or sexual crimes will most likely be turned away.

Step 2: Complete medical coding training Next, you'll need to start training. There are no formal education requirements to become a medical coder. Most employers are seeking candidates with a postsecondary certificate, with some requiring an Associate's degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Earning a Medical Coding Certificate is a smart step for those who want to enter the field with a solid foundation of knowledge. Some programs, like the one at Rasmussen College, can be completed in as few as 9 months. Here's a taste of some of the courses students take:

Medical coding courses: Coding Foundations

  • ICD-CM Coding
  • ICD-PCS Coding
  • Ambulatory Care Coding
  • Revenue Cycle and Billing

Gaining practical training and a solid understanding of the field will allow you to hit the ground running as soon as you land your first medical coding job. You can even complete your medical coding training online so you can fit it into your already schedule.

Step 3: Obtain your medical coding certification Graduating from a Medical Coding Certificate program is an impressive accomplishment. But your work isn't quite over yet. The next step is getting certified.

This credential shows employers you're a dedicated medical coder who has demonstrated all of the important skills required to succeed on the job. The choice to specialize is ultimately yours, but the BLS states that it can have a positive impact on your job

There are a few certifications for medical coders to choose from.

  • Common medical coding certificates:
  • Certified Professional Coder (CPC)
  • Certified Coding Associate (CCA)
  • Certified Coding Specialist (CCS)

 Once you gain some experience in the field, you may decide you'd like to specialize your coding career. If so, you might consider pursuing specialty medical coding certification in an area such as ambulatory care, anesthesia, family practice, general surgery or many others.

Step 4: Brush up on in-demand medical coding skills Before you start applying for medical coding jobs, it's helpful to know exactly what employers are looking for so you can be prepared and put your best foot forward. Being a medical coder requires a balance of hard and soft skills.

We used real-time job analysis software to examine nearly 30,000 medical coding jobs posted over the past year.  This data helped us identify the top skills employers are seeking in medical coder candidates. Here's what we found.

Top technical skills for medical coders:

  •  Health information technology (HIT)
  • ICD-10
  • CPT coding
  • Inpatient coding
  • Customer billing
  • Anatomy
  • Outpatient coding
  • Physiology
  • HCPCS coding
  • Medical terminology

This list may seem intimidating at first glance, but rest assured that these are precisely the types of skills taught in a Medical Coding Certificate program. But in addition to this technical training, there are some soft skills that help medical coders succeed.

Top transferable skills for medical coders

  • Communication
  • Computer literacy Collaboration
  • Research
  • Microsoft Office
  • Attention to detail
  • Organization

If you can identify with some of the traits above, you may be a natural fit for the field. Your medical coding training will help you round out your skills so you're prepped for success.

Step 5: Find a job

The next step to becoming a medical coder is to land your first job. The BLS projects medical coding jobs to increase 11 percent through 2028. This is more than twice the average for all occupations. This is great news for a job seeker like yourself.

When you're looking for medical coding jobs, keep in mind the type of environment you'd like to work in. Would you prefer the bustle of a busy hospital or the relative serenity of a physician's clinics? You have plenty of options for a medical coding career.

Once you get your foot in the door and start gaining experience, you can begin considering future advancement opportunities.


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