Medical coder and other similar health information technician jobs are on the rise at a faster than average rate of 21 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you're considering a career in coding, you'll need to start by taking classes at a community college, technical school or vocational program.
Although medical coding doesn't require a four-year undergraduate degree, getting a two-year associate provides future coders with the knowledge and skills necessary to land an entry-level job. Some medical coding programs at community colleges include a specialized certificate in the area within the greater framework of an associate degree. For example, Austin Community College's Associate of Applied Sciences in health information technology has a medical coding certificate option that students may choose to participate in.
In an effort to improve the quality of postsecondary healthcare information and management programs, the American Health Information Management Association approves medical coding programs that meet their quality standards. A degree from a college that offers an AHIMA-approved program demonstrates that the graduate has a quality education that meets national industry standards. For example, the Delaware Community College's certificate program in medical coding and billing is an AHIMA-approved degree that provides a standout credential for a new coder's resume. Additionally, attending an AHIMA-approved school allows students to sit for the Certified Coding Associate exam, providing another quality credential.
Community colleges aren't the only institutions that offer medical coding programs. Technical schools often feature specialized healthcare-related programs, including coding certificates. The Waukesha County Technical College in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, offers a medical coding specialist technical diploma that includes two different types of standard medical coding procedures. Like a community college's program, a technical school certificate degree provides students with the basic knowledge and skills to obtain an entry-level position in the medical coding field.
If you're looking for a medical coding program that provides the freedom and flexibility that you need to keep working while you're in school, an online college is a viable option. Whether you have job, home or other types of obligations, a Web-based program provides the same basic knowledge that will get you an entry-level coding program, without having to set foot in a classroom. For example, FORTIS Online offers a medical billing coding program that leads to an Associate of Applied Science degree.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
- Austin Community College: Health Information Technology
- Delaware County Community College: Medical Coding and Billing Program
- Waukesha County Technical College: Medical Coding Specialist
- FORTIS: FORTIS Online: Medical Billing and Coding
Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.