With an above-average median salary and projected job growth that outstrips the national average, one of the 10 Best Associates in Medical Coding can prepare you for a lucrative career in healthcare administration.
Medical coding and billing professionals underpin all aspects of communication and administration in the field of healthcare, and they’re a critical component in the field of healthcare insurance and medical records administration.
As the world increasingly moves online and digitizes all of its services, there will be an increasing demand for trained medical billing and coding professionals. This is why the Bureau of Labor statistics predicts a huge rise in positions over the next decade.
What Is a Medical Coding Degree?
Most medical coding programs are associate degrees, lasting around two years and requiring around 60 credits on average. In your first semester of study, you’ll typically cover a foundation of anatomy and physiology, communications, English, or computer studies — sufficiently enough that you won’t be impeded by any knowledge barriers later in the program.
In the latter half of the program, you’ll study essential skills relating to the industry, including pharmacology, legal and ethical considerations, regulations, and medical coding and classifications. These courses will give you the knowledge and skills that you need to work within medical administration.
To gain a position in medical coding and billing, you’ll need to achieve either a certificate or an associate degree. While certification is voluntary, some employers will prefer you to have passed an examination such as the CPC. Institutions vary on their entry requirements into such a degree program.
Careers for Medical Coding Majors
One of the most common positions taken in this field is as a medical records and health information technician. In this role, you’ll manage and organize health information data, adhering to quality and regulatory standards. You’ll be trained in the use of specialist medical software, applying the knowledge gained from your college-level education.
According to the BLS, employment for medical records and health information technicians is expected to increase by around 11% between the years 2018 and 2028. An aging population coupled with the increasing digitalization of services means that there will be an elevated need for such qualified professionals.
Beyond associate-level study, programs don’t tend to focus on medical coding and billing. However, other bachelor’s and master’s programs are available in related fields like health information management. These courses teach students how to manage healthcare data, human resources, and apply management principles, preparing you to work at a level of greater seniority.
Medical Coding Salary Potential
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay in May 2018 for medical records and health information technicians was around $40,350. The highest salaries were available inside of hospitals or professional or scientific services, with the lowest within physicians’ offices.
Beyond medical coding but within this field of work, you may find yourself working as a medical or health services manager in a senior role. The median pay in 2019 according to the BLS was around $100,980 for such managers, with a projected growth in available positions of 18% between 2018 and 2028.
According to the AAPC, successfully passing the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) Certification Exam can increase your earning potential by more than $20,000 above the annual salary for those without the qualification. Many of the courses on this list will prepare you to immediately take such an examination following graduation.
What Are the Best Medical Coding Degrees?
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Weber State University
Average Net Price
This associate degree in health information technology will teach you technical responsibilities like how to properly release medical information, how to code diseases, and how to use medical application software, as well as the supervision of junior employees. Your curriculum will be made up of prerequisites, core requirements, and support courses.
According to statistics published on the institution’s programs page, the median salary for a graduate with an HIM associate degree is around $47,000. And as a registered health information technician (RHIT), the average annual salary rises to around $61,000. This program will prepare you for the official exam leading to such licensure.
For admission, you’ll need to possess a minimum grade C or higher in required courses; these include HTHS 1101 – Medical Terminology and HTHS 1110 LS – Biomedical Core. Once accepted onto the program, you’ll need to successfully complete a minimum of 63 credit hours to graduate.
Tuition at Weber State is charged on a per-credit hour basis, with the cost of a single hour $458.18 for residents of the state, or $1,374.79 for out-of-state students. The price per-credit hour decreases significantly for every additional hour studied. For example, ten credit hours cost $2,336.21 (in-state) or $7,009.96 (out-of-state).
Northwest Technical College
Average Net Price
While NTC is a technical college, you won’t miss out on campus life. Thanks to a partnership with Bemidji State University, you’ll have access to on-campus housing, meal plans, and other student support services at the BSU campus, which is just a short distance away.
This Associate of Applied Science (AAS) program implements a curriculum that is built around the nationally recognized coding systems. You’ll cover basic anatomy and physiology, medical insurance and billing, and an overview of United States health care systems. You’ll also study pharmacology, psychology, and ethics, among other modules.
This is a highly affordable college, with the cost of tuition running $178.15 per credit, regardless of your residency. For this program, you’ll take 60 credits, so $10,689 in tuition will be due. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that there may be additional fees due, which you can read more about here.
Following graduation, if you decide to extend your AAS to a bachelor’s degree, you can transfer up to 60 credits to a BAS program at Mayville State University. The business administration program can be taken fully online and could increase the roles available to you when you begin working.
Central Texas College
Average Net Price
Central Texas College (CTC) today has five different campus locations: Central Campus, the Continental Campus, the Fort Hood Campus, the Europe Campus, and the Navy Campus. Some of these campuses cater to specific groups of students; the Navy Campus, for example, is for military and incarcerated students.
In the first year of this two-year program, you’ll cover courses like medical terminology, coding and classification systems, and how to use relevant medical software applications. In year two, you’ll study anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, and medical record administration, to name but a few.
According to CTC, through figures provided by the BLS, careers within this field are expected to increase substantially in the next decade. There’s a projected rise in medical office administrative support roles of 36% between 2020 and 2030, in addition to increases of 22% for medical documentation specialists and medical coding and billing specialists.
Tuition at CTC is split into three categories. In-district residents of Texas will pay just $90 per credit hour, while out-of-district state residents will pay a slightly elevated $113. For non-residents, the cost per hour rises to $235. There’s no discount for taking multiple credit hours at this institution.
Southwest Wisconsin Technical College
Average Net Price
Southwest Wisconsin Technical College is a public college based in Wisconsin. The rural campus has a small enrollment of around 2,400 students, with a student to faculty ratio of around 16:1. Students can study to an associate level at this institution, with no bachelor’s or master’s programs available.
Initial study in this program will provide you with the foundation on which the rest of the course will build. This involves studying basic anatomy, social sciences, and communication skills. Later modules will focus more on the knowledge and skills needed to work in medical coding, including an in-depth look at medical software and records management.
After successfully graduating from this program, you’ll be ready to take up a role within a private clinic, hospital, insurance company, or one of many other positions within healthcare administration. The salaries offered to those with a recognized certification in medical coding are above the U.S. national average for all other occupations.
Wisconsin residents pay an average annual tuition of around $17,480 for attendance, while out-of-state residents are charged around $19,453. This figure also includes the applicable fees for room and board, books and supplies, and other necessary fees. Financial aid is available for some students; you should fill out the FAFSA to maximize the opportunities available to you.
Highland Community College
Average Net Price
Highland Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and was built around the idea of meeting the higher education needs of northwestern Illinois residents. With more than 60 certificates and degrees, Highland welcomes students from all cultures and nationalities. They’ve an exceptionally strong arts, literature, and music scene, in addition to their successful athletes, the Cougars.
Highland’s AAS in medical coding is geared toward students who want to work as coders in a number of healthcare settings. You’ll be afforded the knowledge and skills needed to implement, analyze, and assign correct coding to medical procedures and diagnoses. In this profession, you’ll be an integral part of patient care and satisfaction.
At the start of the program, you’ll cover essential skills like computer literacy and communications. You’ll progress onto social and behavioral sciences study and humanities. There will also be courses in medical terminology, health information, legal and ethical issues, and classification of disease, among others.
The cost of attendance at Highland is significantly cheaper than attending a four-year institution. Tuition fees run at around $146.00 per credit hour for in-district students and $244 for in-state, out-of-district students. For out-of-state students, it’s also $244.00. What’s more, recently Highland paid around $350,000 in scholarships to help students in financial need.
Average Net Price
Herzing University is dedicated to providing personalized support that will help you to realize your career aspirations. Their career programs provide flexible learning and convenient schedules across 9 campus locations, while a large amount of their learning can be provided online.
With a 20 month duration and requirement to achieve 61 credits, Herzing University offers an AAS in medical coding that can be taken entirely online. You’ll gain the needed coding skills for both outpatient and inpatient care contexts. You’ll also be eligible to enter for the Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) qualification once you’ve graduated.
Courses covered by this program include pathophysiology and pharmacology, ethics and professionalism, an introduction to billing and coding, patient privacy, a certification review, and the international classification of diseases. These are all the required modules, but you’ll progress to more advanced modules, including advanced coding, the international classification of diseases, and an internship program.
Assuming no transfer of existing credits, the average estimated cost of tuition attending full-time, on-campus, runs $35,175.00 with 61 credits required. This includes a per-semester learner resource fee. You can visit this link to check out the kinds of scholarships and grants offered by Herzing University.
Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green, Ohio
Average Net Price
Founded in 1910, the BGSU campus spans 1,338 acres and 119 buildings, including numerous modern purpose-built centers of education. The student body totals nearly 20,000 students, with an 18:1 student to faculty ratio. More than $25 million in scholarships is awarded each year, making the institution instantly more accessible for lower income families.
You’ll study the knowledge and theory behind claim processing and regulatory requirements. You’ll also cover the assessment of patient information, how to properly handle medical records, and how to apply quality assessment techniques. By the end of the program, you’ll understand how to apply coding and classification systems and how to process electronic and digital information with medical software applications.
This Associate of Technical Study in coding and medical billing will help you achieve proficiency in the necessary coding schemes required to work in healthcare industries. Upon successful completion of the course, you’ll be ready to take various coding certification exams through several national coding accreditation organizations.
Learning takes place across multiple campuses, including main campus, Firelands Campus, eCampus, and the distance learning campus. Tuition varies from one campus to another, with this program taking place at Firelands Campus. This makes tuition $150.00 per-credit hour for courses of 18 credits or higher (the same cost applies to both residents and non-residents).
Southeast Technical Institute
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Average Net Price
Since the late 60s, Southeastern Technical Institute has been offering education in numerous specialist vocational subjects, including HVAC, medical assisting, culinary arts, and plumbing. Their mission statement is organized around four key concepts: mastery of foundation skills, development of interpersonal skills, proactive student engagement, and commitment towards stretch learning initiatives.
Southeast Tech offers an AAS in medical coding: professional and facility, which consists of 67 credits. Upon graduation from this program, you’ll be ready to work in a range of companies, including healthcare systems, outpatient surgical facilities, auditing firms, insurance companies, and independent clinics.
In your first year, you’ll focus on an introduction to the health information services, including introductions to basic medical coding, and basic anatomy and physiology. You’ll progress to more advanced coding methodology, ethics courses, and basic pharmacology, in addition to social sciences, compliance and regulations, and pathophysiology.
Costs for this AAS program are calculated at $248 per credit hour. This doesn’t include fees that may apply, which you can read more about here. Students may be eligible for financial aid, which includes scholarships and grants made available directly through the institution.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Average Net Price
Across the last four decades, Keiser University has grown to become Florida’s third largest not-for-profit institution. More than 20,000 students and nearly 4,000 employees attend the university each year, which is spread across 21 major and medium-sized metropolitan areas.
To graduate with an AAS degree, you will need to earn a total of 60 credits during the two years of study. This consists of 20 credits worth of common core courses, 16 credits worth of medical administrative billing and coding courses, and the remainder in areas like communications, behavioral and social science, and computing.
This Associate of Science in medical administrative billing & coding prepares you with essential administrative and clerical skills that you’ll need to work in medical coding and billing or healthcare insurance and compliance. You’ll gain an understanding of medical language and terminology, develop your ability to perform various administrative tasks, and be ready to take the American Academy of Professional Coders credentials examination.
Tuition at Keiser University is charged on a yearly basis as opposed to per-credit hour in most cases. The average cost of undergraduate tuition at this institution is around $18,224, including any applicable fees and exclusive of room and board.
Average Net Price
In 2019, Pierce College received the Rising Star Award from The Aspen Institute for Community College Excellence. The institution has also been named most successful community college by CNNMoney.com, as well as being one of few community colleges to have been named an ‘Achieving the Dream Leader College’, a national accolade given to community colleges with exceptional results in student success.
The medical billing and coding AAS program at Pierce College builds on essential skills from the start; in your first year, you’ll cover modules like College Success, Business English, and Introduction to the Medical Office. As you progress, you’ll cover more technical courses, like Records Management and Medical Terminology.
As part of this program, you’ll progress through key transitional stages in which you meet with your success network advisor. They’ll help you to revisit your career plans and make adjustments to your study path, ensuring that you’re on track to hit your goals.
At Pierce College, the difference between students who are residents and those who are not is quite small. Residents of the state can expect to pay tuition of $110.26 per credit hour, while non-residents pay around $124.85 per credit hour. International students pay over double, at $288.13 per credit hour.
If you’re interested in pursuing higher education, then you should check out The 10 Best Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Healthcare Administration and the 25 Best Online Master’s in Healthcare Administration!