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Medical Coder

Becoming a medical coder is a solid way to enter the medical field. It’s a profession that is growing, so once you’re ready, finding a job should be fairly straightforward.

The actual steps to becoming a medical coder can be confusing if you research it online. Lines are often blurry because medical coding and medical billing are usually lumped together. But, they are definitely separate careers, despite the fact that they do work together in a medical facility.

How To Become A Medical Coder

As a medical coder, you’ll be an important member of the medical facility you’re working in. The steps to becoming a medical coder are simple, really.

  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • You need to have your high school diploma or equivalent.
  • You’ll have to pass a background check. While there are no truly formal educational requirements, you’ll need to enroll in a medical coding program.
  • Most programs will take 18-24 months to complete.
  • There are both online and campus programs available, many with flex-scheduling to accommodate your schedule.
  • Once you graduate from your program, consider becoming a certified medical coder. Certifications are also available in specialty areas such as ambulatory care, family practice, or internal medicine.
  • Find a job!

What Medical Coders Do

You’ll find a variety of facilities in the medical industry who need a qualified, certified medical coder. What you’ll be doing on a daily basis:

  • Review patient notes from the previous day that need coding.
  • Understand each patient diagnosis and procedures completed.
  • Use ICD-10 and CPT code books to translate the patient notes to correct corresponding codes for insurance purposes.
  • Read notes, enter data into a billing program on the computer, and research any notes that need more details.

Most of your work will be done independently, but you will have interaction with the medical staff. You’ll probably be expected to complete a certain amount of patient records per day, so expect your day to be busy, depending on where you work.

Salary And Job Outlook For Medical Coders

There is a projected 8 percent employment growth for this field, meaning close to 15,000 new positions will be opening through 2032. 

The average salary for medical coders in 2023 was $53,690. The top 10 percent earned $77,810 or more(bls.gov). It's a rewarding profession, which can pay comparatively well for under two years of training.