Medical billing and coding schools are designed to provide students with a career-focused education on the skills and background knowledge needed to be competitive in the field of medical billing and medical coding. Upon graduation from a medical billing and coding school, students are prepared to fill the basic job duties of medical billing and coding specialists, or to pursue voluntary certification.
There are a few different levels of training offered by most medical billing and coding schools. As with most fields, higher levels of education generally lead to better advancement opportunities and higher salaries.
- Diplomas are a basic level of training for medical billing and coding specialists. Diploma programs can prepare students for entry-level employment, and do not require prior college experience.
- Certificates also provide a basic level of education for medical billers and coders, but are designed for students who are moving into medical billing and coding from another field of healthcare. These programs generally require some existing college education.
- Associate’s degrees provide a slightly more advanced level of education, and can allow medical billers and medical coders to advance further or earn higher salaries.
- Bachelor’s degrees are a step beyond associate’s degrees, and provide an advanced level of education. Medical billing and coding specialists who hold bachelor’s degrees can move into management positions more easily, and are sometimes prepared to start their own medical billing and coding businesses.
Medical billing and coding programs are generally offered at junior colleges and career schools, or at universities.
Most medical billing and coding specialists graduate from junior colleges or career schools with a certificate or an associate’s degree. These programs cover basic medical billing and coding practices and essential medical knowledge, and generally take from one to two years. Those who graduate from universities with bachelor’s degrees are in school for around four years, but gain additional education in topics such as communication, business and math. This may allow them to advance more quickly to management positions or to start a medical billing and coding business from home.
There are many options available when it comes to exploring medical billing and coding schools. Here are a few things that can help you decide which is the right program:
Be sure to enroll with an accredited school. Medical billing and coding school accreditation assures that you will be receiving a quality education that meets current industry standards. A medical billing and coding school that is properly accredited has been evaluated by an official review board and granted recognition as meeting set requirements. Two organizations that accredit medical billing and coding programs are AHIMA and AAPC.
Ask about the teaching staff. Good medical billing and coding schools will have an experienced staff of instructors who know their field and enjoy teaching. They, as well as school administrators, should be able to provide strong student support by promptly answering questions and explaining concepts thoroughly.
Also consider class size when exploring medical billing and coding schools. A program with small class sizes means more individual attention for students.
The reputation of a school usually reflects the quality of its programs, but that’s not always the case, so it never hurts to do research. Good medical billing and coding schools offer hands-on learning opportunities in addition to lecture-based courses. The medical coding field is changing rapidly which means up-to-date material and software is vital to a student’s success in the classroom.
Consider online learning. For students with full-time jobs, family obligations, military commitments or other time constraints, online medical billing and coding schools offer a flexible, web-based means of getting a formal education without the need to commute to a classroom.