By earning a medical billing and coding certification, you become qualified to work in one of the health care industry’s fastest-growing professions. Certified specialists are responsible for accurate record keeping and insurance billing, and are among the most sought-after professionals in the medical community today. In fact, these specialists are in such high demand, that many of them are now offered the opportunity to work in medical coding and billing jobs from home. Add to this mix an average starting salary of $31,000 per year (data courtesy of www.BLS.gov), with lots of opportunity for advancement, and it’s no wonder that so many people have chosen to become certified.
Medical Coding and Billing Job Description
Although the two titles are often used together, medical billing and coding are two entirely different jobs. They do, however, tend to work side-by-side which makes some knowledge of the other person’s job responsibilities essential.
Whereas the Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) is responsible for assigning the correct medical code to a service rendered or physician’s diagnosis of a patient, the biller is responsible for interpreting the code and converting it into the proper billing statement required by each insurance company. A high level of synergy between these two positions is vital to a well-run private practice, clinic or hospital.
Where to Get Certified
If you are interested in earning your medical coding and billing certification, your best bet is to go through formal training in an accredited program. Due to their convenience and comparatively lower tuition costs, online schools are an extremely attractive option for many students but, for those who would like to receive hands-on training, there is also a myriad of quality on-campus programs offered around the country. Either alternative provides you with the specific technical training required to take the required certification test.
Upon completion of the required coursework, you become eligible to sit for the NCHA Certified Medical Biller and Coder Certification Exam. A passing score on this standardized test means that you are now a certified specialist and qualified to begin your career with any number of employers.
Prerequisites for Medical Billing and Coding Courses
The majority of billing and coding courses accept students who have either a high school diploma or a GED equivalent. Although less common, some programs may also request proof of enrollment in certain high school science classes, as well as computer skills prior to granting admission.
If you are concerned about your ability to meet these prerequisites, it is recommended that you schedule a meeting with a representative from the program that interests you. Many schools are willing to consider additional materials (e.g. letters of recommendation from teachers or counselors) if they show the applicant’s commitment to and interest in the medical profession.
Is Certification a Requirement for Employment?
It is possible for an non-certified individual to get on-the-job training as a coding and billing specialist. Some employers are willing to take on trainees who show a high level of desire and commitment and help them prepare for the certification test through hands-on training. The upside to this approach is that it allows the person to earn a salary while in training, and serves as a guarantee of immediate employment after certification. The downside is that the average coding and billing salary is usually higher for an individual who has graduated from an accredited program.