Growth Trends for Related Jobs
A medical coder works in a health-care environment, assigning a current procedural terminology code to each medical procedure and an International Classification of Diseases code that indicates the exact diagnosis. Coders often must be familiar with the codes in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Coders are usually required to be certified, which involves taking an exam. Through the American Academy of Professional Coders, you can become a certified professional coder, or you can become a certified coding specialist through the American Health Information Management Association. In some cases, an active medical coding student can be hired contingent on passing a certification test within a year.
According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, earnings for all medical coders ranged from $20,850 to $51,510 a year, as of May 2009.
Hospital Medical Record Coder
Large hospitals in urban areas have as many as 2,000 beds, and entry-level medical coders are often in demand to enter patients’ admission, discharge and treatment information according to CPT coding guidelines. Entry-level hospital coders must have a good grasp of medical terminology, excellent typing and data-entry skills, and familiarity with ICD code sets.
At some medical facilities, students attending medical coding classes, or recent high school graduates interested in the profession, can become coding assistants. These positions expose the employee or intern to the job duties of a certified coder as you run errands, assist with coding overload and do other clerical work. You must understand medical terminology and know how to operate a 10-key calculator to enter billing information.
Physician’s Office or Medical Group Coder
A medical group or individual physician’s office needs coders to review paperwork and enter procedure and diagnosis codes into the office computer. Since a solo practice may not be as hectic as a high-volume hospital, this type of job could be a better fit for a student or recently certified coder. Doctors' offices sometimes hire part-time coders or interns to help out during busy times. As a coder in a doctor’s office you may spend more time contacting insurance companies than one at a hospital, because you usually work alone or with one other person instead of in a coding/billing department.
Temporary Work through a Medical Staffing Firm
Entry-level medical coders can gain experience in high-profile doctor offices and hospitals without an extensive resume by signing up with a medical temp agency. These agencies offer short-term medical coding positions that will give you experience in the field and the possibility of being hired permanently by one of the companies you work for temporarily. This “on-the-job” training enables you to learn about a variety of coding specialties and work environments before deciding which position best suits your skills.
Marianne Moro is a copywriter and journalist based in Hollywood. She has been writing professionally since 1999, specializing in home remodeling, interior decorating, pets, travel and holistic health. Moro was a part-time editor and contributing writer for Remodeleze.com, a home remodeling and decorating website, and has also contributed to the Cutting Chair and Entertainment Today.