Also known as medical records and health information technicians, medical coders manage and review patient medical records to verify their accuracy, security and quality both electronically and on paper. These professionals assign codes to medical diagnoses and procedures in order to bill insurance companies, patients and third-party payers like Medicaid and Medicare. Their coding systems also help categorize data for databases, patient histories and registries.
Typical duties of medical coding jobs include evaluating medical records for compliance, submitting bills for reimbursement, recording information electronically and organizing records for storage and analysis. Most medical records techs work in hospitals and doctors' offices. Similar occupations include medical and health services manager jobs and medical office practice manager jobs.
Medical Coding Job Education Requirements
Depending on the position, medical coders need either a postsecondary certificate or an associate's degree in health information technology. These programs usually include classes on coding and classification systems, medical terminology, medical reimbursement methods, anatomy and physiology and computer and information systems.
Applicants may have a better chance of admission if they completed classes in biology, computer science and math in high school. Many employers prefer coders with professional certification, which may require passing an exam and/or graduation from an accredited program. Some certifications also require work experience in medical coding.
Medical Coding Job Market
The outlook for medical coding jobs is excellent, with the profession expected to grow by 24 percent by 2022 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The growth rate is much faster than the national average as well as that of similar careers, such as medical transcriptionist jobs. The U.S. currently has 180,760 health information technician and medical coding jobs. An aging population and growing demand for healthcare will result in more reimbursement claims, driving growth in the field. Similarly, an older population will mean a higher demand for specialized medical registries that require coding expertise.
Medical Coding Job Salary Information
According to the BLS, medical coders made an average of $37,710 in 2013. The top-earning 10 percent of coders made $57,320, while the bottom-earning 10 percent made $22,700. Coders working in the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industry had the highest average salary ($52,850), and those working in doctors' offices had the lowest average salary ($32,700). The states with the highest average salaries for medical coding jobs in descending order are New Jersey, California, Colorado and Connecticut.