What Education to Become Medical Billing and Coding Specialist

by Candace Hoyne

What education is needed to become a successful Medical Billing and Coding specialist? When I research it, I see you need a certificate or a diploma or a associate degree. What do employers look for in a entry level Medical Billing and Coding Specialist?

Thank You
Candace J. Hoyne


One thing to think about is whether you want to concentrate on billing, coding, or both.

A degree, diploma, or certificate is not a requirement to be a billing or coding specialist, but it does help when getting a job – especially for larger employers like hospitals, clinics, and large practices. Just like any other profession the more education and certifications, it’s typically easier to get a job and your advancement (and earning) potential is greater. Coding typically requires more training than billing and certification through either AAPC or AHIMA is recommended if you want to be a medical coding specialist.

If you just want to stick to medical billing, the training is not as long or intense. Many medical billing programs offer a certificate program lasting anywhere from 6 to 9 months. I’ve even heard one medical billing service owner who prefer less experience because they can train employees in their process – but I think that’s rare. Many local vocational and community colleges offer programs for medical billing – and medical coding – that are very affordable and can be completed in a reasonable amount of time. If you are looking for an online course or more options in your area, you can use EduSearch that lists options on both by just entering your zip code – there’s a search box in the middle of our Medical Billing Schools page.

Probably one of the most important things employers look for is experience. Just about every job ad I see now asks for some level of experience – typically 1 to 3 years minimum. If you can find a program that offers an internship program that allows you to gain experience that is very valuable. We’ve gotten several submissions to the site from people who have completed a certificate or diploma program but are having a hard time getting a job.

I think that differs some depending on which part of the country you live in – or whether you are near a big city. I think what really hurts new graduates is the lack of experience as much as training and certification credentials – especially for strictly medical billing jobs.

So to really summarize and answer your question, ideally employers prefer someone with training from a reputable school and 3 to 5 years experience. For coding I think having certification is also strongly desired. Larger employers will typically value and compensate better for more education and credentials.

You may also check the job listings on the websites of your local hospital or large medical research facility or clinic. Check out the listings for a medical billing or coding specialist and see what they are asking for. Or use a job search site such as Indeed.com for “Medical Coding” or “Medical Billing” and check out the job requirements.

Thanks for visiting our site – hope this helps answer your question.

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