See what affects Medical Coding Salaries are and what the salary range is for medical coders. Learn how experience influences the Medical Coding Specialist Salary and compare to other Medical Office occupations.
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We’ll compare salaries from two different sources, the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and PayScale.
U. S. Bureau of Labor
U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the salary range for medical coders is between $21,240 and $53,430. The Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook classifies medical coders as Medical Records and Health Information Technicians. These estimates are from the latest available data, the 2012-2013 edition of the Occupational Outlook. This data provides a good look at salaries by employer and industry.
Unfortunately the Occupational Outlook does not distinguish medical coding salaries from the medical billing salary as it considers both to be medical records and health information technicians. They kind of lump everything together into what is more like medical billing coding salaries. However I would expect the medical coding salary to be on the higher end of this data. This is because medical coders typically require some training and many are certified which results in better pay.
Type of Employer
A breakdown by type of employer in the Occupational Employment Statistics shows that hospitals are the largest employers, followed by physician offices, nursing care facilities, outpatient care centers, and the federal branch of government. The average wage by employer is:
- Hospitals: $38,860
- Physicians Office: $31,290
- Nursing Care Facilities: $35,060
- Outpatient Care Centers: $34,890
- Home Health Care Services: $35,440
As you can see there’s a big disparity between physician’s offices and hospitals. Larger employers such as hospitals and nursing care facilities are on the higher end of the range for medical coders. The higher salaries would tend to reflect this.
They are also more likely to offer better benefits than smaller employers – which most physicians offices would tend to be classified as. Larger employers such as hospitals do typically have more stringent certification, education, and experience requirements than a physician’s office would.
Type of Industry
Another interesting statistic for coding salaries is the pay by industry. According the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, following are the top five paying industries followed by average annual salary:
- Pharmaceutical: $66,060
- Insurance and Employee Benefit Funds: $51,840
- Federal Government: $46,280
- Grantmaking and Giving: $46,840
- Scientific Research and Development: $48,060
I couldn’t tell from the bureau’s report what exactly Grantmaking and Giving is. With the exception of the Federal government, none of these categories employee many people so the numbers may be hard to interpret.
What we can learn from this data is larger employers, pharmaceutical, and professional/political employers pay the highest medical coding salary. But keep in mind these employers also are more likely to have higher standards for certification, education, and experience.
AAPC Medical Coding Salary Survey
Probably one of the best sources of medical coding salary information is the American Academy of Professional Coder (AAPC). They conduct an annual survey of member that gives a very accurate picture of medical coding salaries. Here’s a summary of the latest survey:
Overall the average salary for medical coders is $47,796 for certified. For all coders including certified and non-certified, the average is over $47,870. As you can see a medical coding certificate adds over $6,800 on average to the annual salary. That’s an investment that pays for itself very quickly.
54% of the survey responders said that certification was a requirement for employment.
Years of Experience
Those with 15 or more years of experience earned about $60,000 a year.
Those coders with 10 to 15 years of experience earned about $50,000 a year. 5 to 9 years experience earned in the $45,000 range.
No more do the larger employers pay better; Inpatient hospitals average just over $41,000 for a coder. Larger group practices and outpatient hospitals average just over $45,000 followed by solo practices at $45,312 and medium group practices at almost $50,000.
Smaller group and solo practice salaries increased almost %10 from last year.
Which part of the United States you work in affects medical coding salaries also:
- Northeast averages in the $51,000 to $52,000 range
- Midwest averages between $44,000 and $45,000
- Southeast ranges between $41,700 to $46,600
- Texas South area averages just over $47,000
- Mountain states average $48,131
- West coast averages $54,980
One consideration to the geographic differences is the cost of living. Where the medical coding salary is higher, the cost of living tends to be higher as well.
As the American Academy of Professional Coders data shows, medical coding salaries are improving in an uncertain economy and the job outlook in general looks promising. The AAPC has grown to represent over 120,000 coders.
PayScale Salary Data
Here’s the range for Medical Coding Specialist Salary:
This is according to PayScale.com. This translates into a range from $26,665 a year to $41,225 per year with a mid-point about $33,945. The pay ranges reflected in this data is a national average and can vary widely.
The range of salary is dependent on:
- Years of experience
- Location (City or rural area)
- Geographic area (Northwest, Southeast, Pacific, etc.)
- Size of employer – Hospital or small practice
When considering a job it’s important to not only look at salary, but to factor in benefits. This would include time off – holidays/vacation/sick, medical/dental, and 401(k) matching, etc. Be sure to factor these in when making a decision. The larger employers are more likely to offer better benefits.
If you are changing jobs, this kind of information is helpful to get an idea of your market value before negotiating. You like to try to get at least 10% more than your current salary when changing jobs. Of course if you’re miserable in your current job or can’t stand the working conditions, money may not be as big of a factor.
For comparison let’s compare to the salary ranges of other medical office occupations:
As you can see medical billing coding salaries in general pay better than most of the other other medical office salaries. From the coding salaries table above the average coding salary is in the $16.32/hour range. Most of the medical office salaries range from the $12 to $13 per hour range with some reaching the $16/hour range. The medical coding salary is one of the higher ones. (Note – hourly rate conversions assume 2080 work hours average in a year)
Salary Data Varies
In researching the salary range for medical coders, I noticed it can vary widely depending on the source. According to to the job search site Indeed, the average salary range for medical coders is $44,000 a year. This works out to about $21.15/hour – which is higher than the Department of Labor and PayScale data above.
So use this data to get a general idea of the range to expect for medical coding salaries.
Medical Billing and Coding Jobs from Home?
If you have the drive, entrepreneurial spirit, and good business sense you can also earn a a good salary by starting a medical billing business. I’ll be honest – it’s a lot of hard work, but it’s also very rewarding.
The benefits are:
- Set your own hours
- Control your salary by how hard you work
- Satisfaction of creating a successful business
- Work from home
Click here to find out more on starting a medical billing business.