When researching potential education paths for a medical records technician career, prospective students soon find that, in addition to associate and bachelor’s degrees in the subject, online medical billing and coding certificate programs also exist. Individuals wondering about the differences between these two paths — and the potential pros and cons of each — can find all that information and more in the guide that follows.
Many students decide to pursue a medical coding certificate online as it offers a fast, cost–effective option if they want to enter the field quickly. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that roles for medical records technicians will grow by 13% between 2016 and 2026, creating many satisfying and stable professional opportunities for graduates.
In addition to learning the basics of coding for various medical procedures, students also gain skills in foundational administrative tasks. After finishing the certificate, medical coders go on to work in a variety of medical and health settings, including hospitals, physicians’ offices, long–term care facilities, rehabilitation centers, and nursing homes. Keep reading to learn about available jobs and average salaries, common coursework, and how to pick the best program.
Medical Coding Degree Program Ranking Guidelines
We selected the online medical and billing coding certificate programs based on the quality of the program, the types of online classes offered, the faculty, rankings, awards, and reputation, including the school’s reputation for effectively providing quality online programs.
The Best Online Medical Coding Certificate Programs
1. Charter Oak State College
New Britain, Connecticut
Charter Oak State College serves as Connecticut’s public online college, providing degrees without boundaries to busy working professionals in need of flexible online learning. The school specializes in degree and certificate programs in some of the most in–demand fields. Students interested in a medical coding career can earn a certificate completely online.
The 21–credit medical coding certificate gives learners a firm foundation in medical science with knowledge of pathophysiology, anatomy, and physiology. Faculty members equip students with the skills necessary to analyze and code patient data, plus the ability to manage it electronically. The curriculum of the medical coding certification online covers this aspect of the profession with coursework on medical terminology, health information management, reimbursement methodologies, and medical coding and billing.
Students must earn at least a "C" grade in courses to earn this online medical billing and coding certification. In addition to career relevance, Charter Oak emphasizes affordability, allowing students to complete their programs without being unreasonably in debt. All enrollees pay competitive tuition rates, though non–residents pay a bit more than in-state students.
The school also offers payment plans to help students manage costs. Students at Charter Oak can earn credit for military training, in addition to credit evaluated by ACE, National CCRS, and the Connecticut Credit Assessment Program. Students need no prior credentials for admission to this particular certificate program.
Charter Oak State College is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).
2. Kennesaw State University
One of the nation’s 50 largest public colleges, Kennesaw State University enrolls 35,000 students in degree and certificate programs delivered on two metro Atlanta campuses. KSU is also a leader in distance education, with many online programs ranked among the nation’s best. The 100-hour online medical billing and coding specialist certificate prepares coders who serve as an integral part of the business team within healthcare organizations.
KSU partners with the American Association of Professional Coders (AAPC) to develop this online medical coding certification. Students can acquire the skills necessary to serve as liaisons between medical staff and their offices, the patients they serve, and insurance companies. They specialize in assigning codes to denote patient illnesses and medical procedures. Faculty members teach ICD–10-CM diagnosis coding guidelines, HCPCS level II index coding, CPT coding in evaluation and management, and coding for procedures such as surgery, pathology, and lab work.
The three–month program prepares learners to take AAPC’s certified professional coder exam. Students can begin the program at any time and earn the certification at their own pace. Facilitators will work with students to address any questions they may have throughout the program. KSU offers financial aid options to help enrollees pay for this certificate program. Admission requires a high school diploma, a KSU skill assessment, and completion of either the medical office assistant certificate program or one year of experience in a healthcare office.
Kennesaw State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
3. University of Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah
The University of Utah ranks among the top 100 colleges in the world in great part because of innovative programs, a high number of start–ups, and student and faculty research. About 31,000 students attend the U, earning well-respected credentials on campus in Salt Lake City and online. The U offers a certificate program to train specialists skilled in providing the coding services needed by healthcare organizations.
Features of the medical coding and billing certificate include a self-paced schedule that students can complete online, and preparation for national certification exams that employers value in their prospective hires. The 390-hour program gives learners an overview of key areas in healthcare, including computer fundamentals, healthcare delivery systems, and reimbursement methodologies. The certification also gives enrollees a biomedical foundation through two courses: medical terminology and anatomy and physiology.
Several courses focus on coding, including ICD–10 Coding, CPT/HCPCS, and CPT/HCPCS. An 80-hour practicum gives learners hands-on record keeping experience. The program prepares learners to take exams such as the certified coding associate, administered by the American Health Information Management Association. It also prepares learners to sit for the certified professional coder or certified outpatient coder exams offered by the American Academy of Professional Coders.
Each participant can receive free electronic textbooks, coding handbooks, and a $325 voucher to pay for one of the certification exams. They also benefit from competitive tuition, making this medical billing and coding certification online an affordable option. Admission requires a high school diploma or GED.
University of Utah is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
4. University of Alaska Fairbanks
The University of Alaska Fairbanks enrolls 8,500 students on seven campuses across the state. UAF’s 10 colleges and schools administer 146 degrees and 32 certificates in 112 fields. Undergraduates learn in classrooms with an 11–to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. About 3,200 students earn credentials through the university’s eCampus.
In addition to associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees, UAF offers short–term programs like certificates and online occupational endorsements that give students specialized training in an accelerated online format. Online medical billing occupational endorsements can help students launch their careers as billing specialists at hospitals, clinics, medical offices, and other healthcare organizations. The four-course program covers medical terminology, computer business applications, outpatient healthcare reimbursement, and inpatient healthcare reimbursement.
Students may also consider UAF’s medical coding endorsement, a four-course program that prepares coding specialists in analyzing medical records and assigning the appropriate codes for reimbursement. The four courses in this online medical coding certification examine computer business applications, human diseases, medical terminology, and medical coding.
UAF offers a 25% tuition discount on its online medical billing and coding certification programs. Students can pay the same tuition for either program regardless of residency. Admission to either program requires a high school diploma or a GED, and the applicant must be at least 16 at the program’s start date.
University of Alaska Fairbanks is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).
5. Ogeechee Technical College
Ogeechee Technical College is a unit of Georgia’s technical college system. Since 1986, thousands of Ogeechee Tech students have earned the in–demand credentials needed to enter and advance careers in the region’s emerging professions. The school operates a virtual campus with programs in various fields, including health information management technology.
The 24–credit medical coding certificate offers a short-term program that students can finish online and at their own pace. The certificate trains students in medical and physicians’ coding procedures. Enrollees can acquire a basic knowledge of anatomy and physiology, human diseases, and medical terminology. Two courses focus exclusively on developing students’ medical diagnostic coding skills. Learners complete a minimum of 465 contact hours and can typically finish the medical coding certification online in two semesters.
When students complete the program, they can qualify to sit for certification examinations administered by the American Health Information Management Association. These include the CCS (certified coding specialist), the CCS–P (certified coding specialist, physician-based), and CCA (certified coding associate).
Enrollees at Ogeechee Tech can benefit from small class sizes, instruction from faculty members with real–world experience, and hands-on learning. Smarthinking, an online service administered by Pearson Education, provides 24/7 tutoring in various subjects. Only applicants at least 17 years old may apply for admission to this online medical coding certification program. Admission requires a high school diploma, SAT or ACT scores, and completing ACCUPLACER or Compass.
Ogeechee Technical College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
6. Moraine Park Technical College
Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
Moraine Park Technical College offers students a well–rounded education in pursuit of more than 100 career options. In addition to campuses in Fond du Lac, Beaver Dam, and West Bend, MPTC operates regional centers in Ripon and Jackson, Georgia. The school serves distance learners with 25 online options, including certificate and apprenticeship programs.
The medical coding specialist diploma provides a one-year online curriculum that trains learners in how to review and translate medical records into an alphanumeric classification system. Students can explore how to assign diagnostic and procedural codes so that medical offices may seek reimbursement from health insurance companies. The 29-credit curriculum introduces students to medical terminology, human diseases for health professions, and general anatomy and physiology. Enrollees can delve into coding with courses that examine healthcare reimbursement, ICD diagnosis, CPT, and ICD procedure coding.
An intermediate coding course trains learners in how to assign ICD and CPT/HCPCS codes to prepare physician queries in accordance with guidelines. This course also serves as the exit requirement for the diploma program. Once students complete the program, they can qualify for examinations such as the clinical coding associate certification administered by the American Health Information Management Association.
Some students may opt to continue their education at MPTC, seamlessly transferring credits from the medical coding specialist diploma into the online AAS in health information technology. MPTC charges in-state tuition for all students in this online medical coding certification. Admission requires a high school diploma or GED and results from the ACT or ACCUPLACER.
Moraine Park Technical College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
7. Rutgers University - Newark
Newark, New Jersey
Rutgers University – Newark, renowned for academic excellence and cutting-edge research, administers 550 undergraduate and graduate programs through 29 schools and colleges. The School of Health Professions (SHP) manages a catalog of 40 degrees and certificates, making the unit the largest of its kind in the nation. SHP enrolls about 600 online learners in programs like its 21-credit medical coding certificate.
Students may receive training to assume roles as specialists in healthcare coding and reimbursement methods. They can complete the medical coding certification online over five semesters, learning how to classify data from patient and physician office records. The curriculum begins with an examination of medical terminology and disease pathology.
In subsequent semesters, enrollees can receive an introduction to coding and acquire more advanced training with CPT and reimbursement systems. Two courses offer students in–depth training in coding with the international classification of diseases. The curriculum prepares learners for American Health Information Management Association certifications such for certified coding specialists and certified coding associates.
Students may transfer up to 10 credits of relevant coursework into this online medical billing and coding certification. A learner interested in advancing their education can seamlessly transfer the certificate to Rutgers’ BS in health information management and complete the baccalaureate degree faster. Rutgers notes that SHP graduates enjoy close to a 100% placement rate within three months of completing programs. Admission to the certificate program requires a high school diploma or GED, plus some prerequisite courses.
Rutgers University - Newark is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
8. Indiana University - Purdue University - Indianapolis
Indiana University–Purdue University-Indianapolis, an urban research college, manages the nation’s first School of Informatics and Computing. This innovative unit develops solutions to help transform fields such as healthcare, entertainment, and media. About 2,000 students study informatics at IUPUI, completing programs such as the online medical coding certificate.
The 28–credit certificate equips learners with the in-demand skills that healthcare organizations need for ensuring an efficient flow of medical data. Students can begin the program with four prerequisite courses in anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, and computer concepts for health information. Once students complete these courses with a minimum cumulative 2.5 GPA, they can delve into coursework examining information governance, pathophysiology and pharmacology, and healthcare information standards.
In the final semester of the online medical coding certification, students can acquire expertise in CPT coding; healthcare reimbursement systems; and healthcare law, ethics, and information release. In this semester, enrollees can complete a minimum 240–hour practicum, applying their theoretical learning of ICD and CPT coding systems while interning at healthcare facilities. IUPUI may waive this component if students demonstrate adequate work experience. Some students may even choose to complete the requirement at their places of employment.
Program completion ensures eligibility to sit for the American Health Information Management Association’s certified coding associate certification exam. Students interested in furthering their education can transfer credits from the certificate into IUPUI’s BS in health information management, a program with a 100% graduate school or job placement rate. Admission to the certificate program requires a high school diploma or equivalent.
Indiana University - Purdue University - Indianapolis is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
9. Mercy College of Ohio
Established as a nursing school, Mercy College of Ohio focuses exclusively on training professionals for healthcare professions. The Catholic college operates campuses in Toledo and Youngstown and offers a select number of distance learning options. Students at Mercy can enjoy smaller class sizes for more personalized attention from faculty.
The medical coding certificate incorporates didactic and simulated laboratory components to train coders for entry-level jobs in this fast-growing profession. Students can take online classes and complete the 26-credit curriculum over three semesters. In the first semester, they receive foundational knowledge about human structure and function, medical terminology, information technology, and medical coding systems.
In semester two, the program examines pathophysiology, pharmacology for health information technology, and clinical coding and classification systems. Enrollees can delve into advanced coding principles and techniques in the third semester, during which they may focus on clinical coding/classification systems and medical reimbursement. They also engage in professional practice labs to receive hands–on training.
The program prepares learners to sit for the certified coding associate exam administered by the American Health Information Management Association. Once a student completes an online medical coding certification, they may seamlessly transfer credits into the associate degree program in health information technology. Admission requires a high school diploma with a minimum 2.0 GPA or a GED with a minimum score of 500. The program admits students in the fall.
Mercy College of Ohio is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
10. Northwest Iowa Community College
Northwest Iowa Community College, the smallest two–year college in the state, equips learners with the credentials to pursue in-demand careers in the region. Students can receive personalized education in classrooms with a 13-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Online options provide distance learners with options such as the diploma in medical coding.
The program prepares enrollees to sit for the certified coding associate certification examination offered by the American Health Information Management Association. The 34–credit, two-semester program examines human anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, health records in acute care, and coding in the first semester. The second semester of its online medical coding diploma takes learners deeper into the field with advanced courses in coding, reimbursement methods, and medical insurance.
Students can begin rewarding careers as coding specialists in just one year. Some graduates may choose to apply the diploma’s credits to the AAS in health information technology, an online program that NCC designed to train registered health information technicians. Students at NCC receive counseling support for academic, personal, or social challenges. They also have access to veterans’ services, such as financial assistance.
Students in this online medical coding certification pay the same online tuition regardless of residency. Admission requires a high school diploma or GED and ACT or Accuplacer. Full–time students enter the program in the fall, while NCC admits part-timers in any semester.
Northwest Iowa Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
11. Southwest Wisconsin Technical College
Southwest Tech offers seven online degrees plus four technical diplomas, including an online medical coding specialist diploma. This program prepares students for entry-level careers in a variety of medical settings, equipping them with knowledge of the health information systems used to record and translate medical data. Upon completion, the diploma’s credits may transfer into an associate or bachelor’s degree program.
The diploma requires 32–33 credits, which students typically complete in one year. In the first semester, learners take foundational medical courses. During the second and third semesters, students complete training in areas like healthcare reimbursement, law, and ethics. To earn the diploma, learners must maintain a 2.0 GPA throughout the program.
At Southwest Tech, online course sessions run for four, eight, and 16 weeks at a time. The program delivers most courses asynchronously, though some classes require scheduled sessions. While distance students can complete the program from anywhere, in–state students benefit from reduced tuition rates. Online students gain access to student resources, like academic advising and support, plus career services and library resources.
For successful admission, applicants need a high school diploma or GED. They must also submit SAT, ACT, or Accuplacer test scores. Southwest Tech recommends candidates possess computer and basic medical skills prior to starting. Transfer students with prior learning or experience may apply for transfer credit or take an exam for course waivers.
Southwest Wisconsin Technical College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
12. Georgia Northwestern Technical College
Dedicated to providing its learners with accessible educational options, GNTC offers a variety of online courses and programs that accommodate distance students and working professionals. GNTC students can access 13 online degrees, 11 diplomas, and more than 45 technical certificates, including the online medical coding certificate. Within this certificate, students gain the foundational knowledge of the medical profession, plus the procedural coding skills necessary to obtain a variety of entry-level careers in medical administration.
Requiring 24 credits total, the medical coding certificate online comprises eight courses covering topics like document production, procedural coding, and anatomy and terminology. Students typically complete the program in 30 weeks, benefitting from multiple start dates each year and customizable course loads. The majority of courses run asynchronously, but some classes feature scheduled meetings and interactive sessions. Each course typically runs for a maximum of 15 weeks.
Though students can earn their medical coding certification online, GNTC may require students to attend an on–campus orientation prior to starting the program. In-state students also benefit from online courses by paying a lower tuition rate than nonresidents. Online students can access the digital library, tutoring services, and career services. GNTC features an open admission policy that admits applicants without the need for a high school diploma or GED.
Georgia Northwestern Technical College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
13. Lakeshore Technical College
LTC offers more than 100 career–focused programs, many of which students can take online. Dedicated to technical training and continued education, the school uses online programs to accommodate distance students and working professionals. The medical coding specialist diploma provides students with the skills and qualifications to enter a variety of medical settings, working with medical documentation to help improve care and communication.
This program requires students to complete 30 credits overall, but allows for some flexibility. First, the customizable course loads allow students to complete the program in two, three, or four terms. Learners can choose some of the courses they take, depending on their career goals or interests, like choosing between healthcare reimbursement or health insurance reimbursement. Students can also choose between an internship or practicum.
At LTC, students may sometimes select the manner of their online delivery. Some classes, for example, offer blended delivery, correspondence, or entirely online options. The online classes primarily run asynchronously through accelerated eight–week sessions, though some classes require scheduled meeting times. LTC offers start dates in the spring and fall.
For admission into the program, applicants must boast a high school diploma. They must also submit SAT, ACT, or Accuplacer test scores. Prior to starting online courses, learners must complete an orientation. Students who wish to pursue further medical education may benefit from transfer credits after completion. Distance students can complete the program entirely from their home state, but Wisconsin residents pay lower tuition rates.
Lakeshore Technical College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
14. Central Community College
Grand Island, Nebraska
With three campuses and three educational centers, CCC offers an on–campus option for many students throughout central Nebraska. For more than 15 years, online learning at CCC serviced students looking for alternative study options. One of more than six diploma programs available online, the medical coding diploma provides students with training in the alphanumeric coding format used in various healthcare settings. This format translates and inputs health data for easier transference of information.
The 42–credit diploma requires students to complete 11 core courses, beginning with introductory classes and progressing through the various coding requirements. Learners also take courses in pharmacology, disease conditions, and delivery systems. The remaining 12 credits come from general education requirements in which students must earn minimum achievement scores in English and math. Learners may qualify to sit for the certified coding associate exam after graduation.
Online students at CCC enjoy classes that run asynchronously and require no on–campus visits. Students also gain access to the online library, the student success center, and career and employment services. For admission, applicants need a high school diploma and must submit ACT, SAT, or placement test scores. To complete the program, students must maintain a 2.0 GPA. Transfer students can receive credit for previous work and credits from this diploma may transfer into other programs.
Central Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
15. Hutchinson Community College
HCC boasts more than 90 years of experience offering education to its students. Over that time, the school has grown and expanded its options, adding flexible and accessible study options like online education to better accommodate contemporary learners. The online healthcare coding specialist certificate prepares students for careers in medical coding professions, such as hospital administrators, healthcare insurance, and clinic operators.
The medical coding certificate online requires 45 credits total, though some of the courses may require students to complete prerequisites prior to starting. Comprising 16 courses, the program covers topics in pathophysiology, reimbursement methodologies, and microcomputer applications. The curriculum also features a lab component and practicum. Students typically complete the certificate in less than one year, taking courses in three consecutive semesters.
At HCC, online courses run asynchronously, and learners can complete the program without any campus visits. In–state students also benefit from online learning by paying a lower tuition rate than nonresidents. Students interested in pursuing additional education afterward may receive transfer credit for the training in this program.
Online classes at HCC run asynchronously and require no campus visits for completion. Upon admission, students gain access to the student success center, career services, and student care services. For admission into the program, applicants need a high school diploma or GED. They also need to submit ACT, SAT, or Accuplacer test scores to assist HCC in placing students in the ideal general education courses.
Hutchinson Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
16. Community Care College
CCC offers 11 online programs, all designed to provide accessible career development options for students. The technical programs offer practical skills and knowledge that students can apply directly to their work. The online medical billing and coding diploma trains students for a career in a variety of healthcare settings. The program incorporates the latest healthcare guidelines and coding standards to ensure graduates possess the most up-to-date information.
The program comprises courses from foundational topics like medical terminology and more advanced materials like diagnostic and procedural coding. Students also complete courses in healthcare software applications and medical insurance. While the standard program length is 11 months, most students complete it in less than 44 weeks. After earning the diploma, graduates may qualify to sit for industry certifications, depending on state regulations.
Online courses at CCC run asynchronously, and students can complete them at their own pace. While the school does not require campus visits, online students can schedule meeting times with their instructors or peers to gain a more interactive experience. All students who earn their medical coding certification online at CCC pay the same tuition rate no matter where they live. They also gain access to the CCC library, academic support services, and professional development assistance. For successful admission, applicants may need a high school diploma with a 3.0 GPA.
Community Care College is nationally accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
17. George C. Wallace State Community College
Technological advancement has played a big part in the growth at Wallace State since it first opened in 1966. With online learning, the school expanded its offerings and increased accessibility to its programs. The medical coding certificate prepares learners to enter the medical profession through working with health data and documentation. Students learn about coding procedures, cutting-edge technology, and other healthcare administration duties.
To earn the medical coding certificate online, students must complete a total of 48 credits. Some classes feature prerequisites, which means that students would need to complete additional courses. Throughout the program, learners complete lab courses, varying levels of coding, and ethics. Designed for completion in four semesters, the curriculum offers a progression from introductory courses to more practical and advanced materials at the end.
Wallace State gives learners up to two years to earn their medical coding certification online. To satisfy the grade requirements, students must maintain a 2.0 GPA overall, along with a 2.5 GPA in required courses. While students can take all the courses online, a professional practice course requires them to complete their training in person or in a simulated environment. Students within 75 miles of Wallace State may need to attend class on campus for this course.
For admission into the program, applicants must hold a high school diploma with a 2.5 GPA or the GED equivalent. Transfer students with college credits require a 2.5 GPA for eligibility. Candidates also need a minimum score of 17 on the ACT. After graduation, students can qualify to sit for various industry certifications, though tests may require additional experience or training.
Community Care College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
18. Thomas Jefferson University
Since 1824, medical training has been a central component of a Jefferson education. Over the years, the school expanded its offerings to include online programs, including nine undergraduate degrees and a variety of certificates. The online medical coding and data quality certificate prepares students for coding in a healthcare setting by training them in procedures, operations, ethics, and policies that govern the industry.
The medical coding certificate online requires students to complete 34 credits overall. The 12 required courses cover various levels of coding along with business and healthcare law. After graduation, learners may qualify to take a variety of industry certifications, though candidates may need additional training or experience. The program offers two annual start dates, and all online students pay the same tuition rate.
The online courses at Jefferson run asynchronously, and students can customize their course loads to fit their schedules. Though the program features no on–campus requirements, some courses require clinical or practical elements. The curriculum follows the model set out by the American Health Information Management Association.
For admission, applicants need a high school diploma or GED. Applicants should have satisfactory computer skills prior to entry or complete a prerequisite course. Once admitted, students must complete six credits with a 2.0 GPA minimum before continuing in the program. From there, learners must complete all required courses at Jefferson and maintain a 2.0 GPA overall.
Thomas Jefferson University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
19. Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College
Shell Lake, Wisconsin
For more than 100 years, WITC has delivered career–focused education, making it one of the first technical schools in Wisconsin. To open its programs to more working professionals, the school introduced online courses and programs. Its medical coding specialist certificate provides students with training in the universal medical coding language and systems utilized in the field. The program covers topics in professional ethics, insurance, and data collection methods.
Requiring 28 credits total, which students typically complete in less than one year, the medical coding certificate online comprises 10 courses in general education and coding–specific topics. While the general courses explore terminology and digital literacy, the core courses delve into healthcare reimbursement and procedure coding. Graduates who pursue an associate or bachelor’s degree in the field may benefit from transfer credits earned in this program.
WITC online classes allow students to study on their own time. They take asynchronous courses and create a course load that fits their lifestyle. The school requires no on–campus visits from students to complete the program, and all online learners pay the same tuition regardless of where they live.
For admission into the program, applicants require a high school diploma and might need to submit SAT, ACT, or Accuplacer test scores. Transfer students may receive credit for prior training, permitted the credits carry a 2.0 GPA and cover 80% of the material. Once admitted, online students gain access to career services, library resources, and academic support services.
Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
20. Seminole State College of Florida
Growing and expanding since 1966, Seminole State offers six on–campus locations and online programming to reach students from all over the country. The school offers more than 40 online programs, including certificates, which students can complete entirely from a distance. In the online medical information coder/biller certificate, students learn what it takes to enter the healthcare profession as a coder. The program prepares learners to analyze, interpret, and record healthcare data in various settings and situations.
The medical coding certificate online requires 34–37 credits total. Some of the courses included cover the legal aspects of health information, computer information systems, and advanced coding applications. The core program also features a practicum and general education requirement. Students may receive waivers or transfer credit for some general education requirements.
The online programs at Seminole State allow students to study at their own pace, benefitting from asynchronous classes and flexible course loads. After graduation, learners may qualify for a variety of industry certifications and licensure exams. Some of these require additional training and experience.
For successful admission, applicants need a high school diploma or GED. Seminole State may also request SAT or ACT scores for some applicants, and transfer students can receive credit for relevant previous training. Once admitted, online students gain access to academic advising, academic support, and career services. While distance students can complete the program from anywhere, in–state students pay lower tuition than nonresidents.
Seminole State College of Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
21. University of Central Missouri
With more than 150 programs available, the educational offerings at UCM have grown immensely since it opened in 1871. The school also delivers online programs to accommodate students from around the world. In addition to its 22 fully online programs, UCM offers 10 online certificates, including the online medical billing certificate. Students in this program learn the billing process and how to use billing software in the healthcare field.
The medical coding certificate online begins with introductory courses, like medical guidelines, and then progresses into more advanced topics, like insurance coverage and accounts receivable. Students learn to complete the entire billing process, including reviewing claim applications, processing claims, and closing accounts. Once completed, graduates may qualify to sit for industry certifications. These may, however, require additional training or education.
At UCM, online courses typically run asynchronously, though some sessions require scheduled meeting times. This program in particular allows for a self–paced progress, so students can customize their course load and complete the certificate as fast as they wish. The program requires no on-campus visits, and all online students pay the same tuition regardless of where they live.
For non–degree-seeking students, UCM offers an open enrollment policy, which means that students can apply with a high school diploma or GED. Applicants may also need to submit SAT or ACT scores. Once admitted, online students gain access to academic support, advising, and career services.
University of Central Missouri is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
22. Gogebic Community College
Established within a high school complex as Ironwood Junior College in 1932, GCC now draws more than 1,200 students and boasts a 15:1 student–to-faculty ratio. The two-year public school, located in the westernmost city in Michigan, offers career, transfer, certificate, and online programs.
All GCC’s online courses conveniently follow the same schedule as its on–campus courses, and students can earn their degrees and certificates — including an online medical coding and billing specialist program — either completely online or in a hybrid format.
GCC’s online medical coding and billing specialist program prepares students to work in the healthcare industry as coders, performing medical coding and processing healthcare insurance claims. This 42–credit curriculum includes courses in anatomy and physiology, healthcare data structure, fundamentals of computer applications, disease process and pharmacology, and ambulatory care coding. Students generally complete this program in 2 years, and its graduates find jobs in hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, and health insurance companies.
To apply to GCC’s online medical coding and billing specialist program, students must submit a completed application, high school transcripts or GED scores, any college transcripts, and their ACT or SAT scores. With approximately 70% of its student body receiving financial aid, GCC also encourages prospective students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Gogebic Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
23. North Dakota State College of Science
Wahpeton, North Dakota
Founded around the beginning of the 20th century, NDSCS is one of the oldest two–year residential colleges in the United States. With its two brick-and-mortar campuses in Wahpeton and Fargo, and multiple online programs, NDSCS offers more than 80 degrees, certificates, and diplomas, including an online medical coding certificate program.
Coursework for this 41–credit program includes anatomy and physiology, pathopharmacology, computer applications in healthcare, and reimbursement methodologies. Students also participate in online learning labs and complete a virtual capstone project in which they code health records via encoder/grouper software.Enrolled students must be able to type at least 40 words/minute and earn a minimum "C" grade. Impressively, NDSCS reports that 99% of its most recent graduates are employed or are pursuing additional college education.
NDSCS’s medical coding certificate prepares students for employment reviewing medical documentation and assigning medical codes for billing, research, statistics, and reporting. Work settings for medical coders include hospitals, clinics, home health agencies, long–term care, insurance, consulting and auditing firms, and healthcare software companies. Some experienced coders find remote employment.
To apply to NDSCS’s medical coding certificate program, students must be high school graduates or the equivalent and submit their ACT and/or placement testing scores. Online tuition at NDSCS varies slightly based on student residency.
North Dakota State College of Science is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). NDSCS’s medical coding program option is accredited by the American Health Information Management Association Foundation (AHIMA).
24. Alexandria Technical & Community College
ATCC, a two–year college in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, was founded in 1961 in Alexandria, Minnesota. In addition to over 50 degree programs at the associate and bachelor levels, ATCC offers many online courses, including a medical coding specialist certificate.
The medical coding specialist certificate at ATCC comprises 19 total credits that students typically complete over three semesters. The program, which includes both completely online, asynchronous classes and on–campus courses, provides certificates for learners seeking employment as medical coding specialists and coding research managers. Courses cover the healthcare common procedure coding system (HCPCS), current procedural technology (CPT), medicolegal issues, and advanced coding.
Some courses in the program, such as introduction to international classification of diseases (IDT), allow students to work completely online and at their own pace. Other classes, like intermediate CPT, require students to visit campus.
ATCC accepts interested candidates who possess high school diplomas or GEDs with fewer than 12 college credits. The college boasts high graduate placement rates, with 100% of students in the medical coding specialist diploma program finding employment. Enrollees in the medical coding specialist certificate program can apply them toward the 45–credit diploma, which also features some on-campus courses.
Alexandria Technical & Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
25. Palm Beach State College
Lake Worth, Florida
BPSC, a public state college in the Florida College System, opened in 1933 and now enrolls nearly 49,000 students. Along with offering bachelor’s and associate degrees on its main campus in Palm Beach County, Florida, and satellite locations in Belle Glade, Boca Raton, and Loxahatchee Groves, the college now offers a hybrid medical information coder/biller college credit certificate.
This 37–credit program features a hybrid format that allows for in-person and online interactions with students and faculty in each course. In addition to courses in inpatient and outpatient records and the fundamentals of medical coding, learners also explore anatomy and physiology, health information law, ethics, and compliance. Enrollees must maintain a "C" grade for all classes in the program.
PBSC prides itself on its experiential and service learning methods. These formats allow students to interface with professionals in the health information profession and in local business communities. A student earning a medical information coder/biller college credit certificate can take part in a virtual practicum in their last semester. As a capstone course, enrollees can apply their acquired skills and knowledge from the program to engage with real–world medical records provided by professional healthcare providers.
After completing their college credit certificates, students can sit for the American Health Information Management Association Foundation (AHIMA) certified coding associate (CCA) certification and American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) certification examinations. Learners may also apply their credits toward the college’s health information technology associate in science degree.
Palm Beach State College is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Palm Beach State College’s medical information coder/biller certificate is accredited by the American Health Information Management Association Foundation (AHIMA).
The Advantages of a Medical Coding Education
Earning a medical coding education qualifies graduates to take on fascinating and fast–paced roles in the ever-evolving medical industry. When considering which educational path to pursue, learners should review their options carefully. Graduates of online medical billing and coding certificate programs can take on entry-level roles but will likely require further education to progress in their careers. An associate degree, conversely, helps students progress into midlevel positions and earn higher salaries, as demonstrated in the table below.
If you still feel uncertain about which path to pursue, review the next few sections to learn about some of the careers you may qualify for with a certificate versus an associate degree.
Medical Coding Certificate Career and Salary Information
Professionals working in the medical administration field can select from a variety of career paths based on their particular interests and goals. Regardless of where they work, most professionals in these roles possess attention to detail, the ability to multitask, and an appreciation for organization, accuracy, and timeliness. They typically work standard 9–5 schedules.
- Medical Records and Health Technicians
- Also known as health information technicians, these professionals ensure health records and data remain organized, accurate, accessible, and secure. They use software to create clinical codes delineating reimbursements for insurance and data analysis, monitor patient outcomes, and ensure proper recording of all data.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $34,000
- Mid-Career: $35,000
- Experienced: $37,000
- Late Career: $39,000
- Medical Assistants
- Medical assistants work in physicians’ offices and hospitals to perform a variety of administrative and medical tasks. Daily duties may include recording patient data, assisting with examinations, scheduling follow-up appointments, creating new medical records for patients, and ensuring all confidentiality regulations are followed.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $29,000
- Mid-Career: $30,000
- Experienced: $33,000
- Late Career: $36,000
- Medical Transcriptionists
- Medical transcriptionists work with physicians and other healthcare professionals to transcribe their verbal notes and directions into physical reports. They use dictation software, review initial transcripts, edit drafts, translate medical abbreviations into full words, and enter these written reports into patient medical histories.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $30,000
- Mid-Career: $31,000
- Experienced: $32,000
- Late Career: $34,000
- Pharmacy Technicians
- Under the supervision of licensed pharmacists, pharmacy technicians perform various tasks that aid in the dispensation of prescribed medication. They collect information for customers, measure out prescriptions, manage inventory, fill out orders for more medicine, enter customer information, and answer incoming phone calls.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $29,000
- Mid-Career: $30,000
- Experienced: $35,000
- Late Career: $38,000
- Medical Billers
- Medical billers spend their days collecting outstanding debts from medical appointments and procedures. They work to ensure patients receive bills quickly and that all provided information reflects an accurate portrayal of services rendered. They must understand the intricacies of insurance, government medical plans, and various discounts.
Salary based on experience:
- Entry Level: $31,000
- Mid-Career: $34,000
- Experienced: $36,000
- Late Career: $38,000
Choosing an Online Medical Coding Program
When trying to find the perfect medical coding certificate online, students should perform careful research. With so many options now available through distance learning, certificate seekers can afford to be picky and find a program that fits their interests and goals. Learners should also remember that in–state online medical billing and coding certificate programs offered by public community colleges typically boast the lowest tuition rates — an important component for those who want to avoid significant student loan debt. Consider the points highlighted in this section before making your final decision.
- Program Cost
- While an online medical coding certificate leads to a reasonable salary upon graduation, learners do not want to be saddled with student debt. Students should try to find a program offering reasonable tuition rates. You should also ask if the school and/or department features any institutional scholarships to help further offset costs.
- Transfer Policies
- After working in the field for several years, some graduates of online medical billing and coding certificate programs decide to pursue an associate or bachelor’s degree. Make sure you attend a school with credits that transfer easily, or else your existing credits may not count.
- School Size and Type
- While some students enjoy the hustle and bustle of a large, public college, others prefer the smaller, more intimate setting of a private school. When looking at potential programs, ask certificate administrators about the average number of students enrolled in each class.
- Program Length
- As discussed in greater depth later in this guide, completion times for medical coding certificate online programs vary based on format length, accelerated degree options, and students’ transfer credits.
- On–Campus Requirements
- Most these programs exist fully online, but some require students to visit campus for orientation, examinations, or certain specialty classes. Students with busy personal/professional schedules should make sure they understand any in-person requirements before enrolling.
Accreditation for Online Medical Coding Programs
Accreditation represents one of the most important considerations a prospective student can make when looking for a certificate program to attend. Accreditation exists in two forms: institutional and programmatic.
Institutional accreditation breaks into two further subtypes: regional and national. Most four–year colleges seek regional accreditation as it serves as the more rigorous of the two options. Many community colleges also aim for this type of accreditation. National accreditation usually serves technical colleges and vocational programs. Students attending these schools may have trouble transferring credits, so those considering an associate or bachelor’s degree should look for regional accreditation.
Institutional accrediting bodies in this field include the American Association of Professional Coders and the American Health Information Management Association. These bodies evaluate curricula, faculty, and student outcomes of individual programs to ensure they adequately prepare graduates. If you’re unsure about whether a program maintains proper accreditation, review the databases of the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. These act as regulatory bodies for accrediting agencies and work to maintain credibility and legitimacy amongst these groups.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Certificate in Medical Coding?
The amount of time required to complete a medical billing and coding certificate online depends on the individual program. A standard program takes approximately 12 months of full–time study, but some schools also offer accelerated paths lasting between six and nine months. The programmatic characteristics affecting the length of an online medical coding certificate include part-time or full-time format, if the certificate is apart of the program or if students seek it after graduating, and cohort or accelerated options.
Students looking to finish quickly should pursue an accelerated path, as this allows them to take classes during truncated semesters and complete more coursework over a shorter amount of time. Students who require additional time select part–time programs and typically pay more in fees as they’re enrolled for more semesters. Regardless of timeline, most programs require approximately 30 credits.
Courses in an Online Certificate in Medical Coding Program
- Medical Terminology
- This foundational course introduces learners to the basic medical terminology they need to know to properly code insurance claims. They learn about various systems in the body and how they connect together. Students also cover the abbreviations used when referring to these systems.
- Hospital Procedure Coding
- This specialized course examines the coding systems and principles behind procedural billing. Students cover the Official Inpatient Coding Guidelines from the American Hospital Association to set an overarching baseline of coding language.
- Ambulatory Coding
- This class looks at Current Procedural Terminology coding for ambulatory services. Students learn about the 3M encoding and grouping systems, how they relate to this area of the discipline, and how reimbursement and payment systems exist within ambulatory care.
- Advanced Coding
- This course allows students to delve into complex case studies around medical records and coding, with emphasis on diagnosis related group payments, principles of reimbursement, and accurate identification of principal diagnosis and care. Learners also discover the differences between primary and secondary diagnoses and procedures.
- Professional Billing and Coding Careers
- Usually taken toward the end of students’ studies, this culminating course helps learners better identify career paths available to them after graduating. Students explore common job descriptions, the types of facilities that employ medical coders and billers, and how to write a persuasive and eye-catching resume.
Medical Coding Membership Associations
Joining a professional medical association offers members myriad benefits, regardless of whether they just graduated or have worked in the field for 20 years. Some of the perks include access to continuing education and training programs, national conferences, webinars, job boards, mentorship, and networking opportunities.
- American Medical Billing Association
- In addition to providing an annual conference, AMBA offers several online classes, certification practice exams, active social media pages, webinars, and details about what a medical billing education entails.
- American Health Information Management Association
- AHIMA serves its members by providing advanced certification, training and continuing education opportunities, industry white papers, an annual conference, and regularly scheduled events throughout the U.S.
- Healthcare Business Management Association
- Created to represent professionals who manage healthcare revenue cycles, HBMA delivers opportunities for certification and accreditation, legislative advocacy, continuing education services, message boards, journals, affinity programs, and events.
- American Academy of Professional Coders
- The AAPC maintains more than 190,000 members and offers training programs, certification opportunities, and regional and national events. The academy also boasts coding databases, coding books, an active job board, and several in-house publications.
- Medical Association of Billers
- In existence since 1995, MAB works to champion its members by offering licensed certification and credentials, training programs, reference materials, and curricula approved by the Commission for Postsecondary Education.