Best Online Medical Coding Certificate Programs

by TBS Staff

Updated October 13, 2022

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A medical coding certificate program provides a quick, cost-effective option for students looking to enter the healthcare field.

Medical coders help streamline the communication and record-keeping processes in the healthcare system. They translate physicians' notes, diagnoses, and procedures into medical codes and input them into patient record systems, streamlining the process for medical professionals to access and share information.

The medical coding field offers many different careers, including those that require specialized knowledge and certifications. Coding certifications can lead to additional employment opportunities and higher earnings as well. According to the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), certified coders earn an average of close to $14,000 more per year than those without certifications.

This page outlines educational options and certifications available to coders, along with viable career pathways.

The Best Online Medical Billing and Coding Certificates

#1 Best Online Medical Coding Certificate Programs

Hutchinson Community College

  • Hutchinson, KS
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

The online medical coding certificate at Hutchinson Community College ranks highly among programs of its kind. Learners choose from 37 certificate programs offered by the public institution from its Kansas campus.

Participants in the medical coding program deepen their knowledge of the field through industry-tailored classes. Certificate-seekers can also participate in hands-on learning opportunities relevant to the field. Flexible course options make it easier for learners to fit classes around their other responsibilities. Full-time and part-time students can enroll in the online healthcare coding program. Working professionals and busy students rely on this flexibility.

The financial aid office works with distance learners to find scholarships, grants, and other funding sources. Qualifying students can cover the cost of their certificate program with funding sources like the Pell Grant. According to the school, 92% of enrollees receive financial aid, and the graduation rate is 42%.

Average Tuition
In-state
$2,730
Out-of-state
$3,660
Retention Rate
58%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
5,315
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
39% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#2 Best Online Medical Coding Certificate Programs

Barton County Community College

  • Great Bend, KS
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

The medical coding certificate at Barton County Community College introduces students to career-focused topics in a flexible learning environment. From its campus in Great Bend, Kansas, the public institution lets learners choose from 38 certificate options.

The medical coding curriculum covers industry-relevant topics while providing a deep insight into the profession. Certificate-seekers can also participate in experiential learning opportunities focused on their career goals. Learners choose flexible enrollment options based on their schedule. The medical coding program offers distance learners the option of full-time or part-time enrollment. This flexibility makes it easier for working professionals and busy students to enroll in the program.

When preparing for educational costs, learners should consult with the financial aid office to determine their eligibility for assistance. The college offers numerous internal and external funding opportunities, including scholarships, fellowships, and federal financial aid. Currently, 96% of enrollees receive financial aid, and the school has a 31% graduation rate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$2,368
Out-of-state
$3,008
Retention Rate
64%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
4,300
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
54% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#3 Best Online Medical Coding Certificate Programs

Dakota State University

  • Madison, SD
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Dakota State University offers an online healthcare coding certificate for students interested in medical coding careers. The public institution offers 12 certificate programs, supporting distance learners from its main campus in Madison, South Dakota.

With career-focused classes, the medical coding program covers core topics while also offering insights into professional roles and responsibilities. Certificate-seekers work with faculty members to customize their course of study and gain hands-on training related to their career goals. Enrollees also have the option to modify their coursework and educational trajectory to suit their schedule. The online healthcare coding program offers both full-time and part-time enrollment options. Busy students can balance school with work and other responsibilities thanks to this flexibility.

Learners can contact the financial aid office to learn more about eligibility for assistance and financial aid opportunities. Qualifying students in certificate programs can pay for school using the Pell Grant, for example. The institution reports a 43% graduation rate, and 93% of enrollees receive financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,541
Out-of-state
$10,611
Retention Rate
66%
Admission Rate
77%
Students Enrolled
3,268
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
68% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#4 Best Online Medical Coding Certificate Programs

Northwest Technical College

  • Bemidji, MN
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Northwest Technical College offers an online medical coding certificate that appeals to students seeking flexible career training. From its Bemidji campus, the public institution offers 52 certificate options for learners.

The medical coding program emphasizes industry-specific knowledge and professional insights throughout the curriculum. Certificate-seekers can also prepare for the workforce with workshops, events, and experiential learning opportunities. Enrollees can modify the program based on their schedule. The online medical coding program provides full-time and part-time enrollment options. This flexibility helps working professionals and other busy students.

The financial aid office helps learners identify funding sources for certificate programs. Qualifying students in certificate programs can pay for school using the Pell Grant, for example. The institution reports that 81% of learners receive financial aid, and the school has a 31% graduation rate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,346
Out-of-state
$5,346
Retention Rate
64%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
947
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
69% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#5 Best Online Medical Coding Certificate Programs

Minnesota State Community and Technical College

  • Fergus Falls, MN
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

The flexible medical coding and insurance certificate at Minnesota State Community and Technical College provides an online route to medical coding training. From its Fergus Falls campus, the public institution welcomes learners to 77 certificate training programs.

The medical coding curriculum incorporates industry-tailored classes that provide a deep insight into the profession. Certificate-seekers can also participate in experiential learning opportunities focused on their career goals. Flexible coursework options allow learners to find a format that fits their schedule. Full-time and part-time students participate in the online medical coding and insurance program. These flexible options appeal to working professionals and busy students.

The financial aid office works with distance learners to identify financial aid opportunities. The school offers several internal and external funding options, including scholarships and federal loans. The institution reports that 87% of learners receive financial aid, and the school has a 41% graduation rate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,965
Out-of-state
$4,965
Retention Rate
64%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
6,086
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
43% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#6 Best Online Medical Coding Certificate Programs

Glen Oaks Community College

  • Centreville, MI
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

The online coding specialist certificate at Glen Oaks Community College appeals to students seeking career training in a flexible format. From its main campus in Centreville, Michigan, the public institution operates 19 certificate programs.

With industry-tailored classes, the medical coding program builds key knowledge and skills while providing insight into the profession. Certificate-seekers participate in experiential learning opportunities to gain relevant skills for their career path. Flexible coursework options allow learners to find a format that fits their schedule. Full-time and part-time students can enroll in the online medical coding program. These flexible options appeal to working professionals and busy students.

At the accredited institution, distance learners qualify for several forms of financial aid. Students at the school qualify for federal financial aid programs such as the Pell Grant. According to the most recent data, 91% of enrolled students use financial aid, while the school has a 26% graduation rate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,488
Out-of-state
$5,328
Retention Rate
58%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
1,175
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
30% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#7 Best Online Medical Coding Certificate Programs

West Georgia Technical College

  • Waco, GA
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

West Georgia Technical College’s online certificate in medical coding is an attractive option for students seeking flexible training relevant to the medical coding field. Learners choose from 92 certificate programs offered by the public institution from its Waco campus.

Participants in the medical coding program benefit from industry-tailored classes, deepening their knowledge of the medical coding field while providing insight to industry professions. Certificate-seekers can also prepare for the workforce with workshops, events, and experiential learning opportunities. Enrollees choose classes based on their schedule, needs, and career goals. The online medical coding program provides full-time and part-time enrollment options. This flexibility makes it easier for busy students to balance school with work or other responsibilities.

Distance learners can contact the financial aid office to learn more about eligibility for certificate programs. Qualifying students enrolled in certificate programs can submit the FAFSA and pay for school with the Pell Grant. According to the school, 87% of the student body receives financial aid and 30% graduate within six years.

Average Tuition
In-state
$2,400
Out-of-state
$4,800
Retention Rate
51%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
7,074
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
46% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#8 Best Online Medical Coding Certificate Programs

Eastern Gateway Community College

  • Steubenville, OH
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Eastern Gateway Community College offers an online medical coding certificate that appeals to students seeking flexible career training. From its Steubenville campus, the public institution operates 27 certificate options for learners.

With career-focused classes, the medical coding program introduces participants to industry-relevant topics while providing insights into professional roles. Certificate-seekers work with faculty members to customize their course of study and gain hands-on training related to their career goals. Flexible enrollment options allow learners to fit school into their schedule. The medical coding program offers distance learners the option of full-time or part-time enrollment. This flexibility helps working professionals and other busy students.

The accredited institution meets federal requirements for distance learners to submit the FAFSA and receive aid. The school's funding options include scholarships, internal aid, and federal aid programs. According to the school, 96% of the student body receives financial aid and 19% graduate within six years.

Average Tuition
In-state
$3,960
Out-of-state
$7,200
Retention Rate
53%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
25,648
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
97% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#9 Best Online Medical Coding Certificate Programs

Lamar Institute of Technology

  • Beaumont, TX
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

The online medical coding specialist certificate at Lamar Institute of Technology provides medical coding training in a flexible format. The public institution offers 23 certificate programs from its main campus in Beaumont, Texas.

The medical coding program offers industry-tailored classes that help participants deepen their knowledge of the field while gaining industry insights. Certificate-seekers can also participate in experiential learning opportunities focused on their career goals. Flexible coursework options allow learners to find a format that fits their schedule. Full-time and part-time students participate in the online medical coding program. Working professionals and busy students rely on this flexibility.

Learners can reach out to the financial aid office to learn more about opportunities to pay for a certificate. Qualifying students enrolled in certificate programs can submit the FAFSA and pay for school with the Pell Grant. Currently, 65% of the student body receives some form of financial aid, and the school has a 33% graduation rate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$2,280
Out-of-state
$12,408
Retention Rate
59%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
4,015
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
46% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#10 Best Online Medical Coding Certificate Programs

South Arkansas Community College

  • El Dorado, AR
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

The flexible medical coding certificate at South Arkansas Community College provides an online route to medical coding training. The public institution offers 32 certificate programs, supporting distance learners from its main campus in El Dorado.

The medical coding curriculum incorporates industry-tailored classes that provide a deep insight into the profession. Certificate-seekers can also receive hands-on training and gain skills through workshops, events, and internships. Enrollees have the option to modify their coursework and educational trajectory to suit their schedule. Full-time and part-time students take classes as part of the medical coding certificate program. This flexibility allows working professionals and busy students to balance school with other responsibilities.

Learners can contact the financial aid office for information about assistance and eligibility guidelines for certificate programs. The college offers numerous internal and external funding opportunities, including scholarships, fellowships, and federal financial aid. The institution reports that 94% of learners receive financial aid, and the school has a 34% graduation rate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$2,328
Out-of-state
$4,128
Retention Rate
55%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
1,443
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
45% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#11 Best Online Medical Coding Certificate Programs

Collin College

  • McKinney, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The online medical coding certificate series at Collin College provides medical coding training in a flexible format. From its campus in McKinney, the public institution offers certificate programs in 62 areas.

The medical coding curriculum draws on industry-relevant topics to provide participants a deep understanding of the profession. Certificate-seekers can also prepare for the workforce with workshops, events, and experiential learning opportunities. Learners can adapt the schedule to fit their needs with flexible coursework options. The online medical coding program offers both full-time and part-time enrollment options. This flexibility appeals to busy students and working professionals.

The financial aid office works with distance learners to identify financial aid opportunities. Qualifying students can cover the cost of their certificate program with funding sources like the Pell Grant. With 37% of all enrollees receiving financial aid, the school boasts a 13% graduation rate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$2,940
Out-of-state
$4,950
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
35,132
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
26% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#12 Best Online Medical Coding Certificate Programs

Columbus State Community College

  • Columbus, OH
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

The online medical coding certificate at Columbus State Community College trains students for medical coding careers with a flexible format. From its campus, the public institution operates 107 certificate options for learners.

The medical coding curriculum challenges participants with industry-tailored classes that offer insights into the profession. Certificate-seekers can also prepare for the workforce with workshops, events, and experiential learning opportunities. Flexible enrollment options allow learners to fit school into their schedule. The online medical coding certificate program provides full-time and part-time enrollment options. Busy students can balance school with work and other responsibilities thanks to this flexibility.

Learners can reach out to the financial aid office to learn more about opportunities to pay for a certificate. The school offers internal and external funding opportunities, which include scholarships and federal aid programs like the Pell Grant. Currently, 72% of enrollees receive financial aid, and the school has a 27% graduation rate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,588
Out-of-state
$9,540
Retention Rate
64%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
28,159
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
34% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#13 Best Online Medical Coding Certificate Programs

Mountwest Community and Technical College

  • Huntington, WV
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Mountwest Community and Technical College offers an online medical coding certificate that appeals to students seeking flexible career training. From its campus in Huntington, the public institution offers certificate programs in 24 areas.

With career-focused classes, the medical coding program introduces participants to industry-relevant topics while providing insights into professional roles. Certificate-seekers can also participate in experiential learning opportunities focused on their career goals. Enrollees can adapt the program based on their unique needs and schedule. The certified coding specialist program offers full-time and part-time schedules for distance learners. Working professionals and busy students rely on this flexibility.

Learners can contact the financial aid office to learn more about eligibility for assistance and financial aid opportunities. Qualifying students enrolled in certificate programs can submit the FAFSA and pay for school with the Pell Grant. The institution reports that 78% of learners receive financial aid, and the school has a 22% graduation rate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,182
Out-of-state
$10,392
Retention Rate
44%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
1,768
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
40% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#14 Best Online Medical Coding Certificate Programs

Weber State University

  • Ogden, UT
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The medical coding certificate at Weber State University introduces students to career-focused topics in a flexible learning environment. At the public institution, learners choose from 13 certificate programs offered from the Ogden campus.

With career-focused classes, the medical coding program covers core topics while also offering insights into professional roles and responsibilities. Certificate-seekers participate in experiential learning opportunities to gain relevant skills for their career path. Flexible coursework options allow learners to find a format that fits their schedule. The online healthcare coding and classification program provides full-time and part-time enrollment options. Working professionals and busy students rely on this flexibility.

Distance learners can contact the financial aid office to learn more about eligibility for certificate programs. Learners at the school qualify for federal financial aid programs such as the Pell Grant. According to the most recent data, 91% of enrolled students use financial aid, while the school has a 34% graduation rate.

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,990
Out-of-state
$14,973
Retention Rate
66%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
29,644
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
35% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#15 Best Online Medical Coding Certificate Programs

Everett Community College

  • Everett, WA
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Everett Community College’s online certificate in medical billing and coding is an attractive option for students seeking flexible training relevant to the medical coding field. From its campus in Washington, the public institution lets learners choose from 54 certificate options.

With industry-tailored classes, the medical coding program introduces participants to foundational topics and offers industry insights. Certificate-seekers gain hands-on experience and career-specific training. Learners can modify the program based on their schedule. The online medical billing and coding program enrolls students full time and part time. Busy students rely on this flexibility to balance school with work and other responsibilities.

The financial aid office works with distance learners to identify financial aid opportunities. The school distributes federal financial aid programs like the Pell Grant. According to the school, 48% of the student body receives financial aid and 35% graduate within six years.

Average Tuition
In-state
$3,626
Out-of-state
$9,006
Retention Rate
64%
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
7,977
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
38% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Best Online Certificate

Online Medical Billing and Coding Certificate Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these certificate programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Our Methodology

Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

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The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%

Affordability - 15%

Online Enrollment - 10%

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What Is a Medical Coding Certificate?

Students can complete a certificate in medical coding in 1-2 years. Programs include 18-30 credits, and students can often take medical coding classes online or on campus. Whether attending part or full time, students should keep in mind that medical coding coursework may be offered in a sequence, potentially influencing the length of a program. Many medical coding certificates are offered through community and technical colleges, although four-year institutions may have programs as well.

Unlike a degree, a certificate program is designed to train learners for specific careers. Individuals with a medical coding certificate can enter the workforce in less time than learners who earn a degree in the field.

Medical coding certificates are different from certifications. Certificates are earned through educational institutions, while certifications come from professional organizations, like the American Academy of Professional Coders.

The cost for medical coding programs varies by program type and student status. Residence may also factor into the cost of enrollment, though many online coding certificates offer lump-sum tuition rates for students regardless of where they live. Per-credit tuition rates can benefit part-time learners who only take 1-2 classes at a time, while full-time learners can take heavier course loads to accelerate graduation times. Students can also complete medical coding training online.

Featured Medical Billing and Coding Programs

What Can You Do With a Medical Coding Certificate?

Medical coding certificates train students to use standard coding languages — ideal for a job as a medical billing and coding specialist. The curriculum also introduces learners to medical records technologies and practices, medical data collection, and health information processes. This prepares students to work as health information technology associates or medical office administrators. Additional career options include medical records coordinator and claims coding specialist.

Alongside professional opportunities, a medical certificate can be a pathway to continued education. Students can go on to pursue an undergraduate degree in disciplines like nursing or healthcare administration.

While a medical coding certificate opens opportunities for entry-level careers in healthcare, insurance, and information technology, most employers also require a professional certification in medical coding to enter the field.

What Kinds of Medical Coding Certifications Are There?

The AAPC offers many unique certifications for aspiring medical coders. Some recognize coders in specific facilities, with others focusing on specific professions. The following sections explore available options, including information on costs and exam requirements.

Certified Professional Coder

The certified professional coder (CPC) certification tests professionals in their understanding of 17 areas of knowledge, including procedure, supply, and diagnosis codes. Successful candidates must complete the 150-question exam in less than 5 hours and 40 minutes and achieve a minimum of 70% correct responses.

For preparation, applicants should possess anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology knowledge. Aspiring coders can take the CPC exam online for $299 or in person for $399. The AAPC provides a preparation course and practice exams.

Certified Outpatient Coder

The certified outpatient coder (COC) certification covers the requirements for coders in ambulatory surgical centers and hospital outpatient settings. Professionals with COC certification demonstrate medical terminology, anatomy, coding, billing, and compliance expertise. Candidates must complete the 150-question examination in less than 5 hours and 40 minutes with a minimum of 70% correct responses.

Candidates need at least two years of coding experience and an AAPC membership to qualify. Most test-takers possess associate degrees, and applicants can take exam preparation courses and practice exams through the academy. The examination costs $399, but AAPC members pay $325 with one available free retake.

Certified Inpatient Coder

The certified inpatient coder (CIC) certification recognizes professional coders in inpatient hospitals and facilities. These coders possess knowledge about specialized inpatient diagnoses, procedures, rules, and payment methodologies and systems. For the exam, successful candidates need to complete 60 questions and 10 inpatient cases in less than 5 hours and 40 minutes with a minimum of 70% on the exam.

Though applicants at any level can pursue the CIC certification, the AAPC recommends that each test-taker possesses an associate degree and a minimum of two years of coding experience. For support, the AAPC offers preparation courses and practice exams. Like the COC certification, the exam costs $399 or $325 for AAPC students and includes one free retake.

Certified Risk Adjustment Coder

The certified risk adjustment coder (CRC) certification acknowledges coders with extensive knowledge in charts and codes within the risk adjustment model. These professionals must understand the procedures, guidelines, and regulations of risk adjustment set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The exam features 150 questions. Candidates must complete the exam within 5 hours 40 minutes and achieve a minimum score of 70%.

The AAPC recommends that each candidate possesses an associate degree and a minimum of two years of coding experience. They should also complete a risk adjustment coding course or a preparation course through the AAPC. AAPC members pay $325 to take the exam and receive one free retake, while others pay $399.

Specialty Medical Coding Certifications

The AAPC offers several specialized certifications for experienced coders who wish to demonstrate their expertise in certain disciplines. Each certification includes its own compliance guidelines, procedures, and coding requirements. Some of the options include ambulatory surgical center, emergency department, hematology and oncology, and evaluation and management certifications.

Each exam includes 150 questions and must be completed in less than 5 hours and 40 minutes and with a minimum score of 70%. The AAPC recommends that candidates possess at least two years of professional coding experience and an associate degree, though specialized coding training or preparation courses can also help.

To take these exams, candidates must possess an AAPC membership and pay $299, which includes one free retake within a year after the first attempt. The academy also offers practice exams.

Certified Medical Coding Specialist

Developed by the American Medical Billing Association (AMBA), the certified medical coding specialist (CMCS) credential recognizes billing professionals who understand medical codes, coding guidelines, and procedures. The exam includes coding information from several medical settings and services, including surgery, radiology, anesthesia services.

Test-takers must possess AMBA membership and pay $325, which includes two free retakes. Test-takers then have 10 days to complete the exam online, during which they can use their books and notes to answer questions. For success, candidates need to achieve a minimum score of 80%.

To qualify for the exam, candidates need either one year of coding experience, a completed training program, or another recognized certification. The AMBA provides a study guide for interested applicants for an additional $199.

Accreditation for Medical Coding Certificate Programs

Prospective medical coders should always keep accreditation in mind when choosing a medical coding program or certification. Accreditation can affect employment, continuing education, and financial aid. For best results, medical coders should ensure that their program received recognition from either the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education or the AAPC.

What Kind of Salary Can I Earn With a Medical Coding Certificate?

The salaries available to medical coding professionals depend on their employer, location, specialty, certification, and experience. While certificates can lead to significant wage ranges across the field, the following table includes Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data on nationwide career outlook, along with median salaries based on experience levels.

Medical Records Technician Career Outlook

$42,630
Median Salary

8%
Job Growth (2019-2029)

Source: BLS

Medical Coding Career Outlooks By Experience
Position Median Salary
Average Medical Coder $42,930
Entry-Level $36,540
Mid-Career $48,350
Late-Career $50,440
Source: Payscale

Medical Coding Professional Organizations

The AAPC, founded in 1988, strives to improve the standards for the medical coding field and its professionals. The organization offers 28 certifications, along with access to education, networking, and career opportunities. With roots dating back to 1928, AHIMA represents health information professionals around the world. The association seeks to promote the field, standardize ethics and practices, and empower health information professionals. Members receive access to professional training, certifications, publications, and career opportunities. The AMBA aims to improve the standards and consistency of the medical billing profession. This association helps develop better practices by offering training, certifications, and networking events for aspiring medical coders and billers.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Best Way to Become a Medical Coder?

People can enter the medical coding field several ways, but most possess formal training or credentials. Medical coders can, for example, pursue degrees in healthcare administration or complete medical certifications through the AAPC. Depending on the employer and the field, candidates may need both certification and experience.

Is a Medical Coding Certificate Worth It?

Medical coding certificates are relatively short programs that have lasting benefits. The knowledge and skills gained through a medical coding certificate allow students to enter the in-demand field of medical records and health information technology. The value of a medical coding certificate also comes from opportunities for continued education and professional advancement.

What Skills Do Medical Coders Need?

Medical coders need a diverse skill set to find success in their daily work, but a few important skills stand out above the rest. Coders should possess strong attention to detail to ensure the accuracy of their work. They also need a solid understanding of medical terminology and policies.

How Long Does it Take to Get Certified as a Medical Coder?

The length of time required for a medical coding certification online depends on the specific credential. Some require only an examination, which can lead to certification in a day or two. Others require a minimum of two years of professional experience.

Which Medical Coding Certification Is Best?

The best medical coding certification varies depending on each person's individual interests and goals. According to the AAPC, the certified professional compliance officer certification leads to the most lucrative positions, with a median salary of over $77,000. For those seeking job security, pursuing certifications that deal with elderly or cancer patients can lead to professional roles.

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