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Become A Medical Coder

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Working As A Medical Coder

  • Getting Information
  • Processing Information
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Repetitive

  • $81,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Medical Coder Do

Medical records and health information technicians, commonly referred to as health information technicians, organize and manage health information data by ensuring that it maintains its quality, accuracy, accessibility, and security in both paper files and electronic systems. They use various classification systems to code and categorize patient information for insurance reimbursement purposes, for databases and registries, and to maintain patients’ medical and treatment histories.

Duties

Health information technicians typically do the following:

  • Review patients’ records for timeliness, completeness, accuracy, and appropriateness of data
  • Organize and maintain data for clinical databases and registries
  • Track patient outcomes for quality assessment
  • Use classification software to assign clinical codes for reimbursement and data analysis 
  • Electronically record data for collection, storage, analysis, retrieval, and reporting
  • Maintain confidentiality of patients’ records

Health information technicians document patients’ health information, including their medical history, symptoms, examination and test results, treatments, and other information about healthcare services that are provided to patients. Their duties vary by employer and by the size of the facility in which they work.

Although health information technicians do not provide direct patient care, they work regularly with registered nurses and other healthcare professionals. They meet with these workers to clarify diagnoses or to get additional information to make sure that records are complete and accurate.

The increasing adaptation and use of electronic health records (EHRs) will continue to change the job responsibilities of health information technicians. Technicians will need to be familiar with, or be able to learn, EHR computer software, follow EHR security and privacy practices, and analyze electronic data to improve healthcare information, as more healthcare providers and hospitals adopt EHR systems.

Health information technicians can specialize in many aspects of health information. Some work as medical coders, sometimes called coding specialists, or as cancer registrars.

Medical coders typically do the following:

  • Review patient information for preexisting conditions, such as diabetes
  • Assign appropriate diagnoses and procedure codes for patient care, population health statistics, and billing purposes
  • Work as a liaison between the health clinician and billing offices

Cancer registrars typically do the following:

  • Review patients’ records and pathology reports to verify completeness and accuracy
  • Assign classification codes to represent the diagnosis and treatment of cancers and benign tumors
  • Conduct annual followups to track treatment, survival, and recovery
  • Compile and analyze cancer patient information for research purposes
  • Maintain facility, regional, and national databases of cancer patients

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How To Become A Medical Coder

Health information technicians typically need a postsecondary certificate to enter the occupation, although some may need an associate’s degree. Certification is often required.

Education

Postsecondary certificate and associate’s degree programs in health information technology typically include courses in medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, health data requirements and standards, classification and coding systems, healthcare reimbursement methods, healthcare statistics, and computer systems. Applicants to health information technology programs may increase their chances of admission by taking high school courses in health, computer science, math, and biology.

A high school diploma or equivalent and previous experience in a healthcare setting are enough to qualify for some positions, but most jobs for health information technicians require postsecondary education.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Health information technicians must be able to understand and follow medical records and diagnoses, and then decide how best to code them in a patient’s medical records.

Detail oriented. Health information technicians must be accurate when recording and coding patient information.

Integrity. Health information technicians work with patient data that are required, by law, to be kept confidential. They must exercise caution and a strong sense of ethics when working with this information in order to protect patient confidentiality.

Interpersonal skills. Health information technicians need to be able to discuss patient information, discrepancies, and data requirements with other professionals such as physicians and finance personnel.

Technical skills. Health information technicians must be able to use coding and classification software and the electronic health record (EHR) system that their healthcare organization or physician practice has adopted.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Most employers prefer to hire health information technicians who have certification, or they may expect applicants to earn certification shortly after being hired. A health information technician can earn certification from several organizations. Certifications include the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) and the Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR), among others.

Some organizations base certification on passing an exam. Others require graduation from an accredited program. Many coding certifications also require coding experience in a work setting. Once certified, technicians typically must renew their certification regularly and take continuing education courses.

A few states and facilities require cancer registrars to be licensed. Licensure requires the completion of a formal education program and the Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR) certification.

Advancement

Health information technicians may advance to other health information positions by receiving additional education and certifications. Technicians may be able to advance to a position as a medical or health services manager after completing a bachelor’s or master’s degree program and taking the required certification courses. Requirements vary by facility.

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Medical Coder Career Paths

Medical Coder
Medical Office Manager Front Desk Coordinator Billing Representative
Billing/Collection Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Document Specialist Account Representative Business Office Manager
Business Office Director
8 Yearsyrs
Auditor Controller Chief Finance Officer
Chief Executive Officer
8 Yearsyrs
Educator Therapist Clinical Manager
Clinical Operations Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse Registered Nurse Supervisor Unit Manager
Collections Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Compliance Specialist Compliance Manager
Compliance Director
12 Yearsyrs
Registered Nurse Staff Nurse Nursing Director
Consultant Nurse
11 Yearsyrs
Medical Records Manager Medical Records Director
Director Of Information
7 Yearsyrs
Compliance Specialist Senior Consultant Information Technology Director
Director Of Information Management
10 Yearsyrs
Reviewer Program Director Service Director
Director Of Support Services
9 Yearsyrs
Educator Nurse Manager Nursing Director
Health Director
9 Yearsyrs
Medical Office Manager Registered Nurse Patient Care Manager
Medical Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Provider Mental Health Technician Medical Records Clerk
Medical Records Director
5 Yearsyrs
Senior Technician Specialist Phlebotomist Medical Technologist
Medical Technologist Lead
5 Yearsyrs
Auditor Accountant Account Manager
Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Reviewer Utilization Review Nurse Nurse Manager
Patient Relations Director
10 Yearsyrs
Document Specialist Service Representative Service Supervisor
Patient Services Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Instructor Instructor Case Manager
Registered Nurse Case Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Instructor Nurse Practitioner Staff Nurse
Registered Nurse Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Compliance Auditor Compliance Manager Risk Manager
Risk And Insurance Manager
6 Yearsyrs
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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Icd-9 Coder 3.5 years
Coder Operator 3.2 years
Medical Coder 3.0 years
Billing Coder 2.6 years
Medical Auditor 2.5 years
Top Careers Before Medical Coder
Internship 5.4%
Auditor 3.8%
Analyst 3.5%
Consultant 3.1%
Top Careers After Medical Coder
Auditor 13.7%
Consultant 9.5%
Analyst 4.7%
Physician 4.6%
Manager 4.5%

Do you work as a Medical Coder?

Medical Coder Demographics

Gender

Female

85.8%

Male

12.8%

Unknown

1.4%
Ethnicity

White

62.4%

Hispanic or Latino

14.1%

Black or African American

11.9%

Asian

8.1%

Unknown

3.5%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

51.9%

French

9.8%

Carrier

6.0%

German

5.5%

Hindi

3.3%

Gujarati

2.7%

Russian

2.7%

Portuguese

2.2%

Chinese

2.2%

Tagalog

1.6%

Japanese

1.6%

Arabic

1.6%

Mandarin

1.6%

Swedish

1.1%

Hmong

1.1%

Korean

1.1%

Italian

1.1%

Urdu

1.1%

Polish

1.1%

Ukrainian

0.5%
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Medical Coder Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

17.2%

The Academy

11.3%

Rasmussen College

6.4%

Ultimate Medical Academy - Clearwater

6.1%

Kaplan University

6.1%

Baker College

4.6%

Louisiana Tech University

4.6%

Davenport University

4.4%

Ferris State University

4.3%

Bryant and Stratton College

3.9%

Strayer University

3.4%

Santa Barbara City College

3.4%

Hutchinson Community College

3.1%

University of Central Florida

3.1%

Ashford University

3.1%

University of Illinois at Chicago

3.1%

University of Cincinnati

3.0%

Sinclair Community College

3.0%

U.S. Career Institute

3.0%

Branford Hall Career Institute - Branford Campus

3.0%
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Majors

Health Care Administration

43.7%

Computer Information Systems

12.4%

Business

11.1%

Nursing

4.4%

Information Technology

3.5%

Medical Assisting Services

3.0%

Insurance

2.9%

Accounting

2.3%

Management

2.1%

Psychology

2.0%

Education

1.8%

General Studies

1.6%

Health/Medical Preparatory Programs

1.5%

Medical Technician

1.3%

Liberal Arts

1.2%

Physiology And Anatomy

1.1%

Computer Science

1.1%

Criminal Justice

1.1%

Health Sciences And Services

1.0%

English

0.9%
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Degrees

Other

29.8%

Associate

25.1%

Bachelors

20.4%

Certificate

12.6%

Masters

6.4%

Diploma

4.4%

Doctorate

0.8%

License

0.4%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
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AVERAGE SALARY FOR A Medical Coder

Average Yearly Salary
$81,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$60,000
Min 10%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$81,000
Median 50%
$111,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Southern Illinois Healthcare
Highest Paying City
San Francisco, CA
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
3.5 years
How much does a Medical Coder make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Medical Coder in the United States is $81,881 per year or $39 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $60,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $111,000.

How Would You Rate The Salary Of a Medical Coder?

Have you worked as a Medical Coder? Help other job seekers by rating your experience as a Medical Coder.

Top Skills for A Medical Coder

  1. Cpt-4
  2. Medical Records
  3. Emergency Room
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Analyzed procedural and operative records to identify and independently assign ICD-9 and CPT-4 codes following established policies/procedures.
  • Reviewed medical records for determination and accurate assignment of all documented procedures and diagnoses codes based on National Coding Guidelines.
  • Provided coding for multiple hospital emergency room charts for numerous physicians.
  • Assessed patient care plans and completed follow-up for additional information as warranted.
  • Selected and assigned codes from current version of several coding systems to include ICD-9, DSM, CPT, and HCPCS.

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Top 10 Best States for Medical Coders

  1. New Jersey
  2. Connecticut
  3. Rhode Island
  4. Minnesota
  5. Alaska
  6. Delaware
  7. Oregon
  8. Maryland
  9. North Dakota
  10. Massachusetts
  • (192 jobs)
  • (106 jobs)
  • (20 jobs)
  • (98 jobs)
  • (14 jobs)
  • (28 jobs)
  • (48 jobs)
  • (100 jobs)
  • (14 jobs)
  • (110 jobs)

Top Medical Coder Employers

Jobs From Top Medical Coder Employers

Medical Coder Videos

Medical Coder, Career Video from drkit.org

Medical Coder, Career Video from drkit.org

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