If you are detail-oriented, a stickler for accuracy, want to work in the health care profession but don't want to deal directly with patients, a career in the medical coding field might be right up your alley. Medical coders take information regarding patient procedures, examinations and treatments provided by other health care workers, and translate that information into a standardized coded form. This results in a broad range of benefits to the patient, the health care industry and to the coder.
You can launch your medical coding career quickly. Unlike many careers in the health care industry, there are no state licensure requirements for medical coders. While most employers require you to hold either a post-secondary certificate or associates degree, a number of institutions offer classroom or online programs that you can complete in as few as two to three months, according to the All Allied Health Schools website.
Medical coding is often touted as a great work-at-home opportunity. While that might be an option in some cases, most jobs in the profession are in more traditional health care settings, such as hospitals, doctors' offices and nursing care facilities, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Whether at home or in an office, you'll spend a lot of your time at a desk in front of a computer screen.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics considers medical coders to be medical records and health information technicians. You can expect to earn a mean hourly wage of $17.27 as a member of this profession, as of May 2011. The top 10 percent of medical coders earned at least $55,170 per year. Approximately 85 percent of medical coders worked full time, but there are opportunities for part-time employment as well. Round-the-clock facilities in the health care industry create opportunities to work different shifts.
Employment and Advancement Opportunities
The American population is aging, which creates additional demands on health care providers for examinations, tests, treatments and procedures, all of which must be coded. This has created an increased demand for trained medical coders. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 21 percent increase in new job opportunities for medical coders between 2010 and 2020. With continuing education courses and experience, you might pursue certification in a specific field of medical coding, such as cancer registration. Certification can lead to greater employment opportunities and higher pay.
- American Health Information Management Association: Medical Coding Profession
- AAPC: Medical Coding Certification
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: What Medical Records and Health Information Technicians Do
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Work Environment
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: How to Become a Medical Records or Health Information Technician
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Pay
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Job Outlook
Mike Parker is a full-time writer, publisher and independent businessman. His background includes a career as an investments broker with such NYSE member firms as Edward Jones & Company, AG Edwards & Sons and Dean Witter. He helped launch DiscoverCard as one of the company's first merchant sales reps.