In an online medical billing and coding associate degree program, students learn how to turn the diagnoses of medical professionals into records that other professionals can use. Properly coded records help medical staff to easily understand a patient’s prior history and ensure that insurance companies and healthcare programs correctly reimburse medical centers. These tasks are generally handled by coding specialists and medical transcriptionists.
As the population of the United States continues to grow in numbers and live longer, there is an increased need for medical staff and services. With more patients, more records, and more people who can handle coding and billing, professionals with coding and billing skills are in greater demand. Many colleges now offer these programs online, allowing a greater number of to help meet that demand.
Use this page to help you determine if this is the right kind of degree for you. It contains information on common coursework and career options to help you find the best online medical billing and coding associate degree options for you.
Online Associate in Medical Billing & Coding Program Ranking Guidelines
We selected the programs based on the quality of the program, the types of courses offered, the faculty, rankings, awards, and reputation, including the school’s reputation for effectively providing online degree programs.
The Best Online Associate in Medical Billing and Coding Programs
1. Moraine Park Technical College
Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
Moraine Park Technical College offers several locations throughout Wisconsin in Beaver Dam, Fond du Lac, West Bend, Jackson, and Ripon. It offers on–campus, online, and hybrid programs, giving prospective students a chance to find a program suiting their learning style and schedule. MPTC offers 25 online programs, including a medical coding specialist diploma.
The 29–credit program consists of coursework in medical coding, medical terminology, anatomy, digital literacy, and healthcare reimbursement. It aims to prepare students for entry–level work as hospital outpatient coders, charge master auditors, and insurance claims clerks. Learners can complete the diploma fully online with no in–person requirements. Most full–time students finish it in one year. In–state residents receive a discount on tuition.
Program graduates may qualify for the American Health Information Management Association’s Clinical Coding Associate or Clinical Coding Specialist (CCS) certification exams. Credits earned through this program can also be transferred to MPTC’s associate of applied science in health information technology program.
The admissions office accepts applications up to a one week before the start of a new semester. To apply, prospective students must submit official high school transcripts and ACT or ACCUPLACER scores. Testing requirements may be waived for students who earned a minimum 3.25 GPA in high school.
Moraine Park Technical College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
2. Southwest Wisconsin Technical College
Southwest Wisconsin Technical College is located in Fennimore. Southwest Tech offers several online associate degrees, technical diplomas, and certifications in a variety of subject areas, including medical billing and coding. Its programs follow a four–, eight–, or 16–week format, allowing students to select the best schedule to fit their needs.
The online medical coding specialist diploma consists of 33 credits. The curriculum includes courses in anatomy, medical terminology, healthcare law and ethics, healthcare reimbursement, and the principles of medical coding. Students must earn a “C” or higher in each class to progress through the program. Learners may complete all courses online with no on–campus requirements.
Program graduates qualify for a variety of entry–level positions, including medical coding specialist, inpatient or outpatient coder, coding analyst, and claims analyst. Southwest Tech also holds transfer agreements with several local universities, giving students the opportunity to pursue a higher–level degree.
Applicants must submit official transcripts from their high school and any previously attended colleges, plus ACCUPLACER of ACT test scores and a complete application form. Southwest Tech may allow students to substitute previous work, military, or volunteer experience for coursework, potentially saving individuals time and money. All prospective students applying to Southwest Tech must meet with a program advisor prior to enrollment.
Southwest Wisconsin Technical College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
3. Community Care College
Community Care College is a nonprofit institution focused on building professional skills to help students launch careers in industries such as healthcare, business, and education. It is located in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and offers several online programs, including a diploma in medical billing and coding.
CCC’s medical billing and coding online program takes as little as 11 months to complete. Students may finish the program entirely online, and the degree does not entail any in–person requirements. The curriculum covers essential industry topics including medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, software applications, and medical insurance. Coursework also teaches ICD–10 and CPT coding in accordance with the standards set by the World Health Organization.
Graduates qualify for entry–level coding and billing positions in a variety of workplaces, including hospitals, medical offices, insurance companies, mental health facilities, and nursing homes. The program also qualifies students to take the medical billing and coding certification exam. Earning this certification may give individuals a competitive advantage over other job–seekers. CCC also offers tutoring and advising services.
A program advisor contacts individuals who have submitted an application to set up an in–person or virtual meeting to walk them through the remaining steps of the application process and obtain any additional documentation.
Community Care College is nationally accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools.
4. Georgia Northwestern Technical College
Georgia Northwestern Technical College is part of the Technical College System of Georgia. GNTC focuses on providing technical education to develop in–demand industry skills. Located in Rock Spring, the school offers several on–campus and online associate, certificate, and diploma programs, including an online health information management coding diploma. In–state residents receive a discount on tuition.
Students may complete the 48–credit program entirely online or in person on GNTC’s Walker County campus. The curriculum explores medical terminology, diagnostic coding, medical procedure coding, health information technology, and anatomy and physiology. Graduates qualify to sit for the Certified Coding Associate exam.
To qualify for this program, prospective students must pass the Psychological Services Bureau’s health occupations aptitude exam with a score of at least 30. To apply, students must complete an application and submit official high school transcripts (or proof of a GED certificate), plus ACT, SAT, or ACCUPLACER test scores. GNTC allows students to transfer from other programs, but at least 25% of their coursework must take place at GNTC. A program advisor must approve all transfer credits.
Community Care College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Its healthcare information management program holds additional accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education.
5. Northwest Technical College
Northwest Technical College in Bemidji, Minnesota, partners with Bemidji State University to give students access to health services, a fitness center, and campus dining. The college offers several on–campus and online programs, including an online medical coding diploma. Online tuition for NTC programs costs the same for all learners, regardless of a student’s state of residence.
NTC’s medical billing and coding online program consists of 42 credits. Coursework covers a variety of industry topics, including anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, U.S. healthcare systems, medical billing and insurance, and coding systems. Online learning at NTC follows an asynchronous format, giving students the flexibility to complete all coursework online.
Graduates qualify for entry–level positions at hospitals, medical clinics, and insurance companies. They may also transfer into an AAS in medical coding program. NTC’s relationship with Bemidji State University also gives students the opportunity to transfer credits to a four–year program.
Applicants must submit official high school transcripts or evidence of a GED certificate, as well as transcripts from previously attended colleges. NTC accepts applicable transfer credits from other programs if students earned them within the last five years with a “C” or higher. Students should contact a program advisor to make sure their prior credits qualify for transfer.
Northwest Technical College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
6. Ultimate Medical Academy–Clearwater
Ultimate Medical Academy — in Clearwater, Florida — focuses on providing quality education to prepare students for careers in healthcare. Students at UMA gain access to tutoring, job interview coaching, textbooks, and other course materials.
Healthcare–focused programs at UMA include an associate of science in medical billing and coding, which students can complete online. Online course delivery at UMA follows an asynchronous format, giving students the flexibility to submit assignments and participate in classroom discussions at their convenience. Program coursework includes an overview of key industry topics, including medical terminology, medical coding, anatomy, and how the healthcare system works.
This associate of science in medical billing and coding program prepares students for entry–level positions as billing specialists, medical coders, insurance verifiers, and records clerks. Graduates may also qualify to take the Certified Professional Coder examination. Graduates do not need to earn certification to work in the field of medical billing and coding, but doing so may give them a competitive advantage over their peers.
To qualify for this program, prospective students must possess a high school diploma or GED certificate or pass a high school equivalency test. Transfer students may receive credit for previous college coursework completed at an accredited institution, advanced placement courses, CLEP credits, or military training. Prospective students should speak with a program advisor to discuss whether their prior credits qualify for transfer.
Ultimate Medical Academy is nationally accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools.
7. Keiser University
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Keiser University was founded in 1977 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It focuses on delivering career–focused curricula to help students develop the professional skills they need to appeal to employers. It offers on–campus, evening, and online programs, giving prospective students the flexibility to select programs that fit their schedules and career goals. Keiser offers an online associate of science in medical administrative billing and coding.
This 60–credit program includes prerequisite coursework in core subject areas, such as English, the natural and social sciences, math, and communication. The program’s degree–specific courses cover pharmacology, medical law and ethics, computerized medical office management, and the principles of CPT–4 and ICD–10 coding. Successful degree completion qualifies students to take the American Academy of Professional Coders’ credentialing exam and launch careers in entry–level positions.
Applicants must submit a complete application and verification of either a high school diploma or GED certificate. Keiser accepts transfer credits earned at regionally accredited institutions and may allow prospective students to replace some program requirements with qualifying work experience. Potential transfer students should meet with a program advisor to ensure the eligibility of their transfer credits and avoid incurring extra costs through repeated coursework.
Ultimate Medical Academy–Clearwater is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
8. Southeast Technical Institute
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Southeast Technical Institute in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, focuses on providing career–focused programs to meet regional workforce needs. Southeast Tech offers on–campus, online, and hybrid–style degree programs in a variety of subject areas, including business and healthcare. The associate of applied science in medical coding: professional and facility program at Southeast Tech follows a hybrid delivery format. This means students can complete most program requirements online, but they must attend an in–person class one night a week.
The 67–credit program aims to teach students to review medical documents, apply nationally accepted coding guidelines, understand the U.S. healthcare system, and use appropriate reimbursement methodologies. Program graduates qualify for entry–level coding specialist positions. They may also sit for the Certified Professional Coder, Certified Inpatient Coder, and Certified Coding Specialist exams. The program typically takes two years to complete.
Prospective students must submit official high school transcripts or GED certification, plus ACT or SAT test scores. Individuals who cannot provide ACT or SAT scores must take the Next–Generation ACCUPLACER exam. Southeast Tech accepts transfer credits from regionally accredited institutions. Prospective transfer students must submit official college transcripts to verify credits.
Southeast Technical Institute is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
9. Cowley County Community College
Arkansas City, Kansas
Since its 1922 founding in Arkansas City, Kansas, Cowley College has grown to include satellite locations in Wellington, Winfield, Mulvane, and Wichita. It serves over 4,500 students and offers 80 degree and certificate options, including an online associate of applied science in medical coding. Online learning follows an asynchronous format, allowing students to complete coursework virtually without any on–campus requirements.
The 65–credit program consists of general education and technical courses in medical terminology, pathophysiology, bioethics, legal and ethical issues in healthcare, current coding procedures, and reimbursement methodologies. Most full–time students complete this online program within two years.
Graduates of this program qualify for entry–level coding positions, but students may also consider transferring to a four–year program. CC holds a transfer agreement with Southwestern College, which allows students to transfer all the credits earned in this associate track to Southwestern’s online bachelor’s program. Graduates may also qualify to earn a medical coding certificate. Students should speak with a program advisor to verify their options and select the path that best fits their goals.
Prospective students must submit official high school transcripts, college transcripts (if applicable), and ACT or SAT test scores. Those who cannot submit ACT or SAT test scores may need to take a placement exam. CC uses an open enrollment process, allowing students to apply at any time throughout the year.
Cowley County Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
10. Minnesota West Community and Technical College
Granite Falls, Minnesota
Minnesota West Community and Technical College’s main campus is located in Worthington. It also boasts four additional satellite campuses, located throughout Minnesota in the cities of Canby, Granite Falls, Jackson, and Pipestone. MWCTC offers certificates, diplomas, and a variety of associate degree programs through on–campus and online formats. These program options include an online medical coding specialist diploma.
The 34–credit program typically takes 1.5 academic years to complete. The curriculum focuses on coursework in medical terminology; pharmacology; reimbursement and insurance in healthcare; and comprehensive training in CPT–4, ICD–10 CM, and ICD–10 PCS coding systems. Students also explore healthcare and its role in society. MWCTC offers this program on campus and through a fully online format. Online learning allows students to complete coursework at any time without commuting to campus.
First–time students must submit an application and official high school transcripts or GED certification. MWCTC also requires applicants to pass the ACCUPLACER exam before enrolling in any programs.
MWCTC also accepts transfer students. Prospective transfer students must complete all admission requirements and submit official college transcripts. Students transferring from a Minnesota State college or university may not need to request an official transcript. Applicants should reach out to a program advisor to ensure their prior credits qualify for transfer.
Minnesota West Community and Technical College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
11. Northland Community and Technical College
Thief River Falls, Minnesota
Northland Community and Technical College was established in 1949 in Thief River Falls, Minnesota. It also features a satellite campus in East Grand Forks. NCTC focuses on fostering student success and offering degree programs to help launch careers in high–demand industries. Its offerings comprise over 80 degree programs, including an associate of applied science in medical coding, which students may complete on campus or online.
Online learning programs follow an asynchronous format, giving students the flexibility to complete coursework virtually without paying visits to campus. The medical coding specialist degree track consists of 60 credits and typically takes two years to complete. Its curriculum covers essential topics including ICD coding, ethics, insurance, medical terminology, and anatomy.
Graduates of this two–year program qualify for entry–level positions as coders in hospitals, clinics, insurance companies, dental offices, and public health agencies. They may also qualify to take one of the national coding certification exams, which may lead to better career opportunities and higher earning potential.
To apply, prospective students must complete an online application and submit official high school transcripts or GED certification. Depending on their academic history, NCTC may require applicants to take the ACCUPLACER exam. Students with previous college coursework may transfer credits, but they need to submit official college transcripts to determine their eligibility.
Northland Community and Technical College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
12. Hazard Community and Technical College
Hazard Community and Technical College — located in Hazard, Kentucky — is part of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. HCTC aims to provide quality education to students both on campus and online. Online learning follows an asynchronous format, giving students the ability to complete coursework at their own pace without commuting to campus. Learners may choose from a variety of degree options, including an associate of applied science in medical information technology.
This medical information technology program allows students to select from specialized track options, including a medical coding track. The degree typically takes two years to complete. Learners may complete most components of this online program virtually, but HCTC requires students to complete an internship or field experience hours.
Program graduates qualify for entry–level careers at hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities. The curriculum focuses on developing professional skills, preparing students to effectively prepare records and reports, work with insurance companies for patient billing, and accurately apply nationally accepted coding standards.
Prospective students must complete an application and submit official high school transcripts or proof of a GED certificate and ACT or SAT score. Students may need to take a placement test if they cannot provide test scores. HCTC accepts transfer students from accredited institutions. Prospective transfer students must include official college transcripts with their application. Applicants should speak with a program advisor if they are unsure whether their credits qualify to transfer to HCTC.
Hazard Community and Technical College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
13. Cosumnes River College
Cosumnes River College, located in Sacramento, California, has grown since its 1970 founding from a student body of 350 to over 14,500 students. CRC offers a variety of certificate and degree programs, including an associate of science in health information technology.
The 60–credit program uses a career–focused curriculum to teach students to analyze medical records, apply accurate coding, and bill insurance companies. Coursework comprises basic education courses and covers industry–specific topics such as human disease, health information technology, health statistics, ICD and CPT coding, and legal aspects of health information.
Distance learners all pay the same tuition, regardless of their state of residence. Learners can take all classes online without paying campus visits. However, students must also complete practicum hours at an approved healthcare facility to graduate. This degree qualifies students to take the national certification exam to become a registered health information technician.
Applicants must complete an application and submit official high school transcripts or GED certification. Prospective students must also submit placement test scores or take a placement test through CRC. The program accepts transfer credits from accredited institutions. Prospective transfer students must submit official college transcripts, and they should talk with a CRC program advisor to verify credit eligibility.
Cosumnes River College is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). Its associate of science in health information technology program is regionally accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education.
14. Minnesota State Community and Technical College
Fergus Falls, Minnesota
Minnesota State Community Technical College features a main campus in Fergus Falls, as well as satellite locations in Detroit Lakes, Wadena, and Moorhead. M State offers over 30 convenient and affordable online programs, and online learners pay the same tuition rate regardless of their state of residence. Program offerings include a medical coding and insurance diploma.
The 50–credit diploma is available at the Moorhead campus and online. The curriculum involves courses in health insurance, medical billing procedures, electronic medical records management, and law and ethics in healthcare. Coursework aims to develop critical thinking, communication, organizational, and interpersonal skills.
Graduates of the medical coding and insurance diploma program qualify for entry–level positions. Coursework also prepares students to take the Certified Professional Coder and Certified Professional Biller exams. Medical coders are not required to hold certification, but these credentials may provide a competitive advantage.
To apply, prospective students must complete an online application and submit their official high school transcripts or GED certificate. M State also requires applicants to pass the ACCUPLACER test to assess their reading, math, and writing skill levels. Students with previous college credits or sufficient ACT, SAT, or MCA scores may qualify for an ACCUPLACER test waiver.
Minnesota State Community and Technical College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
15. Pennsylvania Institute of Technology
The Pennsylvania Institute of Technology is located in the town of Media. It offers certificates and two–year degree programs, aiming to develop students’ professional skills. P.I.T. offers 20 program options, including an associate of science in allied health with a concentration in medical billing and coding.
This medical billing and coding associate degree program consists of 36 credits. P.I.T. offers this program entirely online, without any on–campus visits. It typically takes about 18 months to complete. The curriculum teaches current coding systems, compliance and reimbursement methodologies, and the fundamentals of healthcare. Additional coursework provides an overview of biology, math, and computer applications, developing critical thinking and communication skills.
This program prepares students to take most national certification exams in the field. Graduates may also qualify for entry–level positions, allowing them to enter the workforce immediately after completing the program. Alternatively, some graduates transfer to a four–year program. P.I.T. holds transfer agreements with several area universities, allowing students to easily transfer most/all the credits earned at P.I.T. to other programs.
The admissions office accepts applications year round. To apply, prospective students must complete an application and provide high school transcripts, college transcripts, or a GED certificate. P.I.T. also requires applicants to take a placement assessment to determine their skill levels in writing, reading comprehension, and math.
Pennsylvania Institute of Technology is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
16. Indian Hills Community College
Since its founding in 1966, Indian Hills Community College has grown from its main campus in Ottumwa, Iowa, to include a north campus location and one in nearby Centerville. IHCC offers over 70 programs and 250 online courses.
Online learning at Indian Hills follows an asynchronous format, giving students the flexibility to complete courses at their convenience without commuting to campus. Its program options include a medical and insurance coding diploma.
The 47–credit program typically takes one year to complete. The curriculum meets standards set by the Professional Certificate Approval Program Council. Coursework explores key career–specific topics, including medical terminology, anatomy, reimbursement methods, and healthcare law and ethics. It also provides a comprehensive overview of common coding systems.
Graduates qualify for entry–level positions as medical and insurance coding specialists in hospitals and other types of medical clinics. They may also qualify to take the American Health Information Management Association’s certification exam to become certified coding associates.
Prospective students must complete an application and submit official high school transcripts or GED certification. IHCC also requires ACT, SAT, or ACCUPLACER test scores. Students who cannot provide test scores may need to take a placement exam through IHCC’s testing center to determine their eligibility.
Indian Hills Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
17. Central Maine Community College
Central Maine Community College — located in the small city of Auburn — offers a variety of on–campus, hybrid, and online programs. Online students can also access tutoring, research, and advising services. CMCC currently offers six online programs, including an associate of applied science in medical coding and electronic medical records.
This associate degree consists of 62–63 credits and includes a practicum requirement. The curriculum aims to develop an understanding of medical coding systems, healthcare information management technology, and patient privacy issues. Some examples of specific program courses include medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, and interpersonal communication.
Successful completion of this online associate degree qualifies students for entry–level work in hospitals, clinics, insurance companies, and consulting firms. Graduates can also consider transferring to a four–year program. CMCC offers advising for prospective transfer students, helping these applicants fill out the proper paperwork and select a four–year program that accepts credits earned at CMCC.
CMCC processes applications throughout the year, but its programs all start in the fall. To apply, prospective students must submit high school transcripts or GED certification, plus ACT or SAT scores. Applicants who cannot provide test scores may have to take the ACCUPLACER placement exam. Students who possess previous college–level credits should also submit their official college transcripts.
Central Maine Community College is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE).
18. Central Texas College
Central Texas College was established in 1965. In addition to its main campus in Kileen, the school has over 100 satellite campuses around the world. CTC offers over 60 online degree and certificate programs, giving busy students many opportunities to further their education. Its degree programs include an associate of applied science in medical coding and billing.
This 60–credit medical coding and billing associate degree typically takes two years to complete. Texas residents receive a significant discount on tuition compared to out–of–state learners. The curriculum focuses on key subject areas such as coding and classification systems, medical terminology, healthcare technology, and medical insurance. Coursework also explores business English, the humanities, and social sciences to provide students with a well–rounded education and develop communication and interpersonal skills.
All program components take place online, without any on–campus visits. CTC’s online programs use an asynchronous format, allowing students to participate in classroom discussions and submit assignments at their convenience. Online programs start every month, and course lengths range from 5–16 weeks. Graduates qualify for entry–level positions as coding or billing specialists.
Prospective students must submit official high school transcripts or a GED certificate. CTC also requires applicants to take the Texas success initiative assessment. This requirement may be waived for students with sufficient ACT, SAT, TAKS, or STARR scores.
Central Texas College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
19. Highland Community College
Established in 1868, Highland Community College was the first college in Kansas. It now serves a student body of roughly 2,700 students from its main campus in northeast Kansas and five satellite campuses. HCC aims to provide lifelong learning opportunities and contribute to the economic health of the region. It offers over 60 degree programs, including an associate of applied science in medical coding.
The 66–credit program consists of coursework in general education subjects such as composition, humanities, social sciences, and economics. Students also explore essential industry topics including medical terminology, legal and ethical issues, reimbursement methodologies, healthcare computer applications, and current procedural terminology and coding principles. This fully online program requires no on–campus visits.
Online learning at HCC uses an asynchronous format, giving students the flexibility to log on at their convenience to complete course requirements and participate in classroom discussions. HCC also provides advising, tutoring, and study resources to all students.
Prospective students must submit official high school transcripts or evidence of GED certification, college transcripts (if applicable), and ACT or SAT test scores. Students who cannot provide ACT or SAT scores must take a placement test before enrolling in any programs at HCC.
Highland Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
20. Metropolitan Community College
Metropolitan Community College was founded in 1974 and is now one of the fastest–growing colleges in Nebraska. It has a main campus in Omaha and several satellite campuses located throughout the state. MCC offers over 100 online degree programs, including an associate of applied science in health information management systems. This degree option features a concentration in medical coding and billing.
This medical billing and coding associate degree consists of 105 quarter credits and typically takes two years to complete. The curriculum includes courses in general education and focuses on developing an understanding of medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, healthcare management, and current coding and billing systems. The program prepares students for entry–level positions in hospitals, medical clinics, long–term care facilities, and insurance companies.
Students can complete most program components online, but the curriculum also includes an internship requirement, which learners must complete at an approved healthcare facility. MCC’s standard tuition rate depends on a student’s state of residence.
Prospective students must complete an application and submit official high school transcripts and any prior college transcripts, if applicable. Applicants must include the date they want to start their program on their application. Online degree programs follow a quarter system, and students may begin their program in September, December, March, or June.
Metropolitan Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Medical Billing and Coding Associate Degree Salary Information
An online medical billing and coding associate degree can prepare you for a job in the administrative side of the medical field. The career paths described below are some examples of the kinds of positions available and the work they require. This is a specific degree required for specific work, but it provides a solid foundation on which to build a career. Completing higher degrees and earning certifications can lead to a much wider variety of career options. Your professors and colleagues can advise you on future steps once you have completed this degree.
- Medical Records and Health Information Technician
- These professionals work at multiple tasks, dealing with both administrative and IT duties. They primarily work in medical offices, where their main task is to manage patient records and ensure that they are properly coded and organized.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $30,000
- Mid-Career: $30,000
- Experienced: $32,000
- Late Career: $32,000
- Medical Transcriptionist
- These professionals take notes and other information from nurses and doctors and ensure that it is properly coded into patient records. They listen to recordings, read notes, or speak with medical staff to do so.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $30,000
- Mid-Career: $31,000
- Experienced: $32,000
- Late Career: $35,000
- Coding Specialist
- These professionals apply the correct codes to patient files to ensure that the information is clear and up–to–date. Health insurance companies and healthcare programs use this information to reimburse medical centers.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $36,000
- Mid-Career: $41,000
- Experienced: $43,000
- Late Career: $55,000
- Records Manager
- These professionals manage records and direct coders to ensure information properly recorded. This position usually requires work experience or a more advanced degree.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $43,000
- Mid-Career: $48,000
- Experienced: $66,000
- Late Career: $65,000
Choosing an Online Medical Billing and Coding Associate Degree Program
It’s important to make a sound, informed decision on which online medical billing and coding associate degree to pursue. Things like cost, location, and transfer policies should all play a part in your decision. This section explores a few of these factors and explains why they are important.
Figure out what factors are most important to you, and make your decision based on those parameters. Find the school that you are sure is the best fit.
- Program Cost
- Generally, tuition for schools in the state you live in is cheaper than out–of–state tuition, and online courses can be cheaper still. Private schools tend to cost about the same for in–state or out–of–state students.
- Transfer Policies
- Transferring credits for an associate degree can be difficult, but if you have the option to do so it can reduce both the time and cost of finishing your degree. If you have taken AP high school classes or courses at another college, be sure to consider transfer options.
- School Size and Type
- Larger colleges tend to have larger class sizes, though many online programs pride themselves on small class sizes. Associate degrees are most often offered by community colleges, which tend toward smaller populations and lower tuition rates, but do not offer the same name recognition as universities.
- Program Length
- Some online programs offer the ability to complete a degree faster than normal. These generally require you to follow a specific order of classes, and don’t let students attend part time. Full–time attendance is the fastest way to complete a traditional associate degree and takes about two years.
- On–Campus Requirements
- Some online programs require that you attend certain classes on campus, or that you visit for networking or other events. Keep this in mind when choosing a college as it may require significant travel to complete these requirements.
Accreditation for Online Medical Billing and Coding Associate Degrees
In order for a college to grant degrees, it must hold accreditation from a body approved by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. These groups certify various regional and national boards to accredit schools, ensuring that those schools meet the requirements to teach students and award meaningful degrees. Regional boards such as the Middle States Commission on Higher Education accredit public colleges and universities within their jurisdiction. Private schools are often accredited by national boards such as the Council on Occupational Education.
Programmatic accreditation is another type, granted by organizations to indicate a given department or program meets additional criteria. While this kind of accreditation can mark a program as especially valuable, lacking it down not mean that a school offers a poor education. If a college with this kind of accreditation offers an online medical billing and coding associate degree, it is worth considering though, as they tend to look more impressive on a resume. Programmatic accreditation for related departments or fields, especially those that share faculty with your intended program are also worth considering.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Associate Degree in Medical Billing and Coding?
Earning an online associate in medical billing and coding will take between one and two years to complete for full–time students. Part–time learners will take longer to complete your degree. Taking additional classes each term or semester will help you complete the program more quickly. Some online programs offer accelerated formats, which covers the same material and the same amount of work but in a shorter time.
An associate degree requires 60 credits to complete, though you may be able to reduce this number at certain colleges. Transferring credits already earned at another college, or from advanced placement courses in high school can save time. Some programs also offer credits for work experience or military service prior to enrollment.
Courses in an Online Medical Billing and Coding Associate Program
Medical billing and coding online courses include human anatomy, health services, and procedural terminology. Online students gain skills through virtual simulations, videos, 3D representations, and group discussion boards. Specific coursework varies by school, but the courses listed below are common to most medical billing and coding programs.
- Pathology and Pharmacology
- Learners study human illnesses and their corresponding drug therapies and treatments. Topics include disease processes, symptoms, diagnostic measures, pharmaceuticals, and dosage.
- Human Anatomy and Physiology
- Students learn about the structure of the human body, including major systems and functions. Online students utilize virtual lab work and simulation activities to understand topics such as cell structure and muscular systems.
- Medical Terminology
- An understanding of medical terminology is crucial for any medical coding and billing professional. This course covers medical terms related to areas such as systems and organs, major pathological conditions, and pharmaceuticals.
- Health Information Systems
- This course covers the software used to collect and manage medical information, the types of information used, and the practical skills needed to use it. Students use contemporary software and discuss trends in both health information software and the field.
- Reimbursement and Insurance Systems
- This course covers the details of coding for insurance companies and associated reimbursement of costs. Insurance is a complicated issue in the U.S. healthcare system, and requires a separate course to cover the process of coding and billing.
Medical Billing and Coding Certifications
Certification is an optional credential that requires candidates to pass an exam administered by a professional organization. Earning certification demonstrates commitment to the field and separates job seekers from the competition. While an associate degree in medical billing and coding is recommended to sit for the certification exams below, it is not required.
- Certified Professional Coder
- To sit for the CPC exam, candidates must have two years of medical coding experience and extensive knowledge of all code sets. The exam costs $425–$325 for AAPC students — with one free retake. This certification is common for medical coders who work in physicians’ offices.
- Certified Outpatient Coding
- The COC exam is designed for individuals pursuing outpatient ambulatory coder careers, such as positions in ambulatory surgical centers or hospital outpatient billing and coding departments. The exam costs $425–$325 for AAPC students — with one free retake. Prerequisites include two years of medical coding experience.
- Certified Professional Coder–Payer
- Candidates for the CPC–P credential must be proficient in coding guidelines and reimbursement methodologies. Claims reviewers, auditors, and benefits administrators often hold the CPC–P certification. However, the AAPC is not currently accepting new registrants for this exam.
Medical Billing and Coding Professional Organizations
As you complete your online medical billing and coding associate degree you may consider joining one or more professional organizations. Such groups set the standards of training and certification for members of the profession, offering benefits such as professional development, networking opportunities, and help finding work. Many offer discounted membership for students and some maintain scholarships or other financial aid options.
The three organizations listed below are just some examples of the groups you might join and there are many more. You can do some research and find groups that support the work you want to do.
- American Academy of Professional Coders
- Since 1988, AAPC has been working to train and certify medical coders and elevate the standards of the profession. In addition to hosting certifications, AAPC provides networking and professional development options for its more than 180,000 members.
- American Health Information Management Association
- AHIMA has been a leading organization in health information since 1928. The organization brings coders and other professionals together through conferences and other events, and provides certification options for a variety of fields. AHIMA serves more than 103,000 members and 52 affiliated groups.
- Healthcare Billing and Management Association
- HBMA focuses on professionalism, integrity, and compliance. Since 1993 it has worked to increase professionalism within the medical field through certification, publications, conferences, and other tools. HBMA membership consists of billing companies and other organizations, ranging from 40 to 1,000 employees.