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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Is a medical billing and coding a good career for me?

March 22, 2018

Medical billing and coding staff working with doctorInterested in a career in medical billing and coding? If you’re good with data analysis and record keeping and have good organizational skills, then a career as a medical records and health information technician could be a great choice for you.

Learn more about medical billing here, including:

  • What medical billing and coding staff do on the job
  • Where medical staff with billing and coding training often work, and how much they typically earn
  • The skills needed to be successful in medical billing and coding
  • The steps to take to start a medical billing and coding career

What does a medical records and health information technician do?

Medical records and health information technicians (commonly referred to as health information technicians) manage and organize health information data by making sure that it is accurate, accessible, secure and of high quality in both electronic and paper format. Billing and coding personnel will use many different classification systems to categorize and code patient information for databases and registries, for insurance reimbursement purposes, and to maintain their patients’ treatment and medical records.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical records and health information technicians are tasked with:

  • Reviewing patients’ records to make sure they are complete and accurate
  • Maintaining and organizing data for registries and clinical databases
  • Tracking patients’ outcomes to make quality assessments
  • Assigning codes for data analysis and insurance reimbursement by using classification software
  • Recording data electronically for reporting, retrieval, analysis, storage and collection
  • Keeping patients’ records confidential

Why should I train for a medical billing and coding career?

According to the BLS, employment of health information technicians is projected to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Health information technicians will be in high demand because of the aging population and their needs for medical services. With more claims for reimbursement from insurance companies, health information technicians will be needed to manage and organize the health information data of the older generation.

How much can medical billing and coding professionals make?

Other positives of this career include the average salary as well as the employment level reported for the state of California. According to the BLS, medical record sand health information technicians earned a median annual wage of $38,040 as of May 2016. In California, according to the BLS occupational employment statistics for health information technicians, the pay was even better, ranking third in the United States at $48,840. In addition, California has the highest employment level in the country, with 20,840 jobs.

Where do health information technicians work?

The BLS shows that 36% of medical records and health information technicians work in hospitals, which includes state, local and private hospitals. 19% work in the office of physicians, while 8% work in administrative and support services. 7% work in professional, scientific and technical services, while 6% work in nursing care facilities.

Is medical billing and coding right for me?

Medical records and health information technicians typically work in offices and may spend many hours in front of computer monitors. To be a good fit for this career, you must be comfortable with those aspects of the job. There are also several skills that a health information technician should possess in order to be successful. According to the BLS, these include:

  • Analytical skills. Health information technicians need to be able to follow and understand diagnoses and medical records so they can decide how to code them into their patients’ medical records.
  • Detail oriented. When coding and recording patient information, health information technicians need to be as accurate as possible.
  • Integrity. In order to protect patient confidentiality, which is required by law, health information technicians need to have a strong sense of ethics and discretion when working with patient data and information.
  • Interpersonal skills. Health information technicians need to be able to converse with other professionals such as finance personnel and physicians about patient information, data requirements and any discrepancies.
  • Technical skills. Health information technicians need to use the electronic health record (EHR) system as well as coding and classification software that their healthcare organization or physician practice has implemented.

Do I need to be certified to work in medical billing and coding?

Even though a high school diploma along with previous experience in a healthcare setting can be enough to qualify for some positions, many jobs will require medical billing and coding personnel to have a postsecondary education, and also prefer staff who are certified.

You can become a certified medical biller by earning the Certified Professional Biller (CPB) credential. CPBs possess the knowledge and skills needed to submit insurance claims in accordance with all government regulations and private payer policies, follow-up and resolve claim denials, submit appeals, post payments and adjustments, manage collections and other responsibilities vital to healthcare services.

You can also become a certified medical coder by earning a Certified Professional Coder (CPC) certification. According to the American Academy of Professional Coders, “the CPC is the gold standard for medical coding in physician office settings.”

What steps can I take to start my medical billing and coding career?

If you think this is the right career for you, the first step you can take is to enroll in a medical billing and coding program. In SJVC’s online Medical Billing and Coding program, you can earn a Certificate of Completion in approximately 9 months or an Associate of Science degree in approximately 16 months, with the convenience and flexibility of going to school online.

Both credential levels of this online program will prepare students to take the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) certification exam. In addition to the CPC certification exam, students enrolled in the online Associate of Science degree program will also be prepared to take the Certified Professional Biller (CPB) examination.

Request more information or call toll-free 855-667-9557 to speak with an admissions representative. Refer to our online FAQ page if you have any questions about earning your degree online.

Learn More About A Career In Medical Billing and Coding

Check out our free guide on Medical Billing and Coding.

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