A Google search for medical billing or coding usually results in a list of hundreds of programs offering certification or education for these jobs. Someone looking to get into the medical billing and coding job market may wonder if certification is required or if completion of a training program will help them land a position. This article provides information on whether a training program is necessary, the types of training programs available and what education and experience is necessary to obtain a medical billing or coding job.
Medical Billing and Coding Certification
It should be noted that while a certificate provides extra credentials on a resume, it is not required to obtain a job in the field. Many companies will hire candidates without certification and train them. What certification does is make a candidate more competitive. If there are two people competing for a spot, the certified individual is more likely to be hired if all other things are equal.
Certification programs provide basic knowledge and hands-on experience for new medical billers and coders. Some information students in these programs can expect to learn includes medical terminology, basic anatomy and use of industry reference materials to provide coding. Experience with various claims software and electronic reference manuals may be included. Coming out of a medical billing and coding course, students should be able to look up diagnosis codes in the DSM-IV reference book, provide correct ICD-9 and HCPC coding and complete a HCFA-1500 or UB-92 claims form from scratch.
Types of Certification Programs Available
A medical billing and coding education can be obtained in several ways. Some of the most popular methods are listed below.
Health Care Administration Degree. An associates or bachelor’s degree in health care administration or medical records management provides coursework on medical billing and coding in addition to other health care administration functions. These degrees are valuable to those who are seeking supervisory opportunities in the industry. Many four-year colleges offer degrees in health care management and community colleges often offer two-year associate degree or certification programs.
On-site certification programs. Technical colleges and specialty education providers often offer certification classes in medical billing and coding at a physical location. Although these are not degree programs, the benefit of a certificate program is that it can be completed in only a few months or even weeks.
Online education. There are hundreds of programs offering billing and coding certification through online education. Benefits of this route are that students can learn at their own pace and schedule. Students who are not self-motivated or do not possess time management skills may find the traditional classroom is a better option. However, for those looking to change careers or for parents seeking a way back into the workforce, a certification program that allows one to study in the evening is often perfect.
What You Need to Get Hired
The requirements for a medical billing or coding job depending heavily upon the hiring policies of each company. A hospital may require certification for someone working in their medical records department but only require basic computer skills and a high-school education for entry-level billing positions. Requirements will also depend on the market in your area. If there are numerous qualified candidates available for each position, certification or past experience will give you a leg up.
If you are looking to move into the medical billing and coding field, scout the local job market prior to committing to a degree or certification program. Read classifieds for billing jobs in the area and note educational and experience requirements. Apply for entry-level data and billing positions in order to get your foot in the door and see if you enjoy the work. Once you have a job, you can always attend school on the side in order to advance your billing and coding career.