Completing training within the field of medical coding can open educational avenues and pave the path to your greatest career aspirations. One of the best ways to ensure success is by obtaining your associate’s degree in an accredited medical coding associate degree program. Since the average, annual income for medical coding professionals typically begins around $32,000 annually per to Payscale.com, any and all educational and real life work experiences will enable you to be more qualified and better compensated than others with less training and experience. Whether you elect to complete studies online or on campus, an associate degree will make you more marketable and increase your eligibility for a higher earnings, better promotions, and career opportunities.
Some people may be lucky enough to get into an open entry level position in the medical field without their associate’s degree; however, later on down the road if they wanted to reap further benefits in the medical coding field, they would most likely opt to earn their associate’s degree. All medical coders, regardless of their backgrounds, are vitally integral to the operations of all healthcare offices and facilities. Since they are responsible for the reporting, classification, and recording of patient care, diagnosis, and treatment, all health care providers are dependent upon their abilities and accuracy. As medicine and technology evolve, certified medical coders often opt to advance their studies within associate degree programs. Plus the pay incentives are great for degree holders!
An associate degree in medical coding requires a two year time investment. The curriculum includes courses that cover subjects such as: Anatomy and Physiology, CPT Medical Coding, ICD-9 Coding, CPT-H Hospital Coding, Pharmacology, Medical Terminology, Health Care Technology, Insurance and Billing, and Medical Machine Transcription. Many people may be under the impression that an associate’s degree is not enough to acquire a job as a medical coder; however, that assumption is completely inaccurate. There are many health care facilities willing to hire graduates with their associate’s degree in medical coding.
Continuing education in a related discipline may be required if you wish to continue education in the healthcare industry. The result of the constant change and revisions to the guidelines in the medical industry make even the mot experienced medical coders complete continuing education programs. Sometimes associate degree graduates will not be eligible to apply for certification unless they complete certificate programs. Therefore, it is imperative to receive your degree from accredited institutions if you are serious in establishing yourself in the medical coding profession.
Several options exist for those who wish to expand their educational foundation beyond their primary area of expertise and main sources of income as a certified medical coder. Many people obtain their Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) Certification. Those who hold associate degrees have the capability and option to become certified as a CPC (Certified Professional Coder). The CPC is issued by the American Association of Professional Coders and is the most reputable, nationally recognized certification organization. The CPC Certification denotes a candidate’s capability for comprehending Medical Terminology, being familiar with Anesthesiology, Surgery, Radiology, Patient Evaluation, coding rules and reimbursement. Medical coders who became certified in their CPC’s experienced a salary increase by 20%, converting the non-certified medical coders’ initial salary of $31,096 to $45,404. Again, the only way to qualify as a candidate for taking the CPC exams and achieving certifications in medical coding is if you have your associate’s degree. Often if experienced coders desire to later on maximize their credentials, they often are preferred candidates over other less qualified candidates.
Obviously, if you want to strive for the higher salary, you would have to accomplish more years of schooling and/or certifications, beyond an associate degree. However, an associate degree does serve as a huge stepping stone into the healthcare profession of medical coding by opening the doors to many entry-level coding positions in hospitals and other health care facilities. It is a much needed and growing field, and with an associate’s degree you can expand your training and gain access more opportunities than a non-graduate.