So you’ve decided you’d like to work as a medical billing and coding specialist. Now all you need to do is find an approved school and start taking some classes. Sound interesting? Continue reading and learn what you need to do to become part of this demanding and rewarding career.
Can I Just Take Classes or Do I Need to Complete a Program?
Generally, when I’m asked what it takes to become a medical billing and coding specialist, I say the individual needs to complete an approved training program and become certified. While there may be some variations and gray areas, these are the two things potential employers will look at when deciding on who they’re going to hire. Certification is usually obtained by passing an exam either through the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA or the American Association of Professional Coders (AAPC) or both.
The AAPC and the AHIMA both have requirements that must be met prior to taking the exam. They’re very similar, requiring either degrees in this field or work experience or both. While taking some medical billing and coding classes may prepare you to take the exams, completing a program will provide you with a more comprehensive education.
As a student in a medical billing and coding program, you’ll take both medical classes and medical office classes. Some of the courses you can expect include medical terminology, pharmacology, anatomy and physiology, medical transcription, evaluation and management, medical office procedures, and ICD-9 or ICD-10 coding. The AAPC and the AHIMA both offer a variety of online classes as well. Some of these classes can be taken on campus and others can be taken through distance learning.
Where Can I Take Medical Billing and Coding Classes?
Medical billing and coding classes are available at many technical schools and community colleges. They generally offer health information technology programs or individual classes. If you’re taking individual classes, they can usually be completed in one term or semester. Programs in medical billing and coding or health information technology, on the other hand, can take one to two years to complete.
The AAPC and AHIMA offer online classes and also provide you with resources and links where you can find other approved classes or training programs. They also offer continuing education classes, which may be required for recertification.