Medical Billing And Coding Career Overview

There’s a new profession in town, and it’s called medical billing and coding. Ok, so it isn’t really that new because it actually has its origins from as far back as the 1500’s. And going a little further, the original purpose was simply to categorize and identify causes of mortality.

This process became much more important as trade between countries in Europe and Asia made the transmission of diseases more prevalent with each passing season. A merchant from China might be bringing the most fabulous silk fabrics to France or Italy, but he was just as likely to be bringing the plague as well.

In this way, diseases such as Yellow Fever, Influenza, Black Plague, Typhus, Cholera and Leprosy began to experience epidemic proportions as they swept through populations around the world. Everywhere that man traveled, he brought his microbial companions with him.

Medical Billing And Coding The Origins

The leaders and physicians of their times recognized the need to begin to record mortality rates for the various maladies that afflicted their populations. In this way they could record the numbers of citizens affected by any particular disease, as well as some of the circumstances surrounding the transmission and origin of how the disease might have been transmitted.

In other words, how did this person die? What kind of disease killed them? How did they contract the disease? And where, might the disease have come from? All very important questions if you’re trying to stem the advance of a virulent contagion.

This type of record keeping continued for centuries as the need for this statistical data helped to mitigate the rise in global pandemics. In most of the developing world there were specialists or medical coders who were tasked with gathering and recording these vital records. It wasn’t until approximately the 1960’s that this process took on a new purpose.

Medical Billing And Coding Training

The new science for billing and coding, according to, provides a wealth of opportunities, not just in the medical billing and coding schools that provide training, but in the potential growth that this occupation presents.

In truth, certain states have few barriers to entry for this occupation. What this means is that it is possible to gain on the job training and perform the duties that the job requires. This approach while plausible is, not generally recommended because it actually has the potential to retard ones career growth.

Types Of Degrees And Schools

If someone is looking to keep academic costs to a minimum, there is the possibility of attaining an Associate’s degree. This two-year academic program completed at an accredited community college or university and successfully passing a medical billing and coding certification examination should put you on a good path to a solid career.

For those who want an even better start in the business, then the achievement of a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and the successful completion of a certification exam is the best possible way to maximize a medical billing and coding salary.

While these are the standard choices for this profession, there are alternatives. There are many vocational schools that offer the academic training and certification programs for medical billing and coding career aspirants.

Enroll In Accredited Programs

A word of caution though, it is vital that any vocational or “for profit” educational institution be thoroughly examined in order to confirm that they are in full compliance with a national accrediting association.

These associations can include the:

  • Registered Health Information Technicians (RHIT)
  • American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)
  • American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC)
  • Professional Association of Health Care Coding Specialists (PAHCS)
  • Board of Medical Specialty Coding (BMSC)

Finally, a new option that has become available as a result of the Internet is, online learning. For those who must maintain their current employment in order to manage life’s daily financial responsibilities, this option presents the best possible choice.

A student can enjoy the flexibility of a training program that revolves around their lifestyle and personal schedule. No more commute through grid locked traffic to a campus, only to discover there is no parking, causing a late arrival for class. Again, the same caution applies if the curriculum is provided by a vocational school.

The career prospects for this occupation are very good, The Goliath that is the American healthcare system show no signs of abating any time soon, and the bureau of labor statistics predicts that this occupation should see at least a 20% growth rate over the next decade.

Medical Billing And Coding Salary Range

Additionally the specialists involved specifically in, medical coding have achieved an annual mean wage of almost $40,000 as of 2008, with the federal government as the primary employer for this occupation. Those working for the Federal Executive Branch earn a median annual salary of almost $43,000.

The specialists specifically focusing on medical billing have attained a suitable average annual salary of well over $30,000. In fact the top five states for this occupation in terms of salaries are, Mississippi $38,000, New York $37,000, Washington DC $36,000, Massachusetts $36,000, and California $34,000.

Remember that we are only talking averages here. Many professionals in this healthcare occupation can earn far more, especially with the appropriate degrees and credentialing. What it comes down to is, the fact that medical billing and coding can be a very lucrative profession, for those willing to lay the proper groundwork and apply their skills in an occupation that, can offer excellent job security and top notch working conditions.

Details On Medical Billing And Coding Salary

Those lucky enough to be earning a medical billing and coding salary today, are keenly aware of the symbiosis between the two distinct yet collaborative professions. I will try to segment each position and supply you with the vital statistics surrounding each.

In other words, I’m gonna give you all the skinny on this profession so you can decide if it is worth pursuing as a potential career. Before we continue though, I must make you aware that in many smaller medical facilities or clinics, one person can encompass both jobs.

It is for this reason that a clear understanding of each position and the associated responsibilities that are assigned to each, must be a compulsory part of your introduction to medical billing and coding.


This part of the profession requires an individual that is, capable of managing the paper processing, and electronic processing, as well as presenting clear and concise request for payment (RFP’s) for medical services rendered.

The fact that they must interact with a myriad of different insurance reporting requirements and navigate their way through the maze that is the Medicare/Medicaid healthcare system makes this complicated job almost impossible to manage.

But those who can do the job well, can earn the respect and appreciation of their senior management for improving the cash flow of the enterprise. Without the skills of a good biller, a medical operation would be forced to operate on a cash basis, something fairly unrealistic in today’s medical market.

As of 2010, the mean hourly wage for this profession was over $14.00 and the average annual wage was almost $30,000. Remember, these are just averages, and at least 50% of practitioners earned far more than this.

So, just where are these professionals earning this kind of dough? It turns out that the biggest employment industry is, offices of private physicians $30,000, followed by general medical hospitals $31,000, offices of other health practitioners $27,000, and outpatient care centers $30,500.

Professional Billing

Currently, the ten states that pay the highest average wages for this occupation are:

  • Mississippi  – $38,000
  • New York  – $36,000
  • Massachusetts – $36,000
  • Washington DC – $35,000
  • California – $33,000
  • New Jersey  – $33,000
  • Connecticut  – $33,000
  • Georgia  – $33,000
  • Alabama – $33,000
  • Rhode Island – $33,000

The ten major metropolitan locations that pay the highest average wages (as of 2010) are:

  • Los Angeles – $30,500
  • New York – $33,000
  • Chicago – $32,000
  • Houston – $30,000
  • Phoenix – $32,000
  • Dallas – $31,000
  • Philadelphia – $32,000
  • Atlanta – $30,000
  • Santa Ana – $31,500
  • San Diego – $31,600

Professional Coding

The medical coder provides the vital link between the physician’s services and the insurance entity. The skills with which they properly code and identify all the services performed by medical specialists allow our healthcare system to not only streamline payment processing, but also allow for the documenting and recording of important healthcare data for analysis and prevention.

The coding specialist must be able to juggle specific identifiers from several different coding systems such as CPT current procedural terminology, ICD international classification of diseases, DSM diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, DRG diagnosis related groups, RBRVS resource based relative value scale, and SNOMED-CT systematized nomenclature of medicine- clinical terms.

Accordingly, the pay for these professionals is substantial. Job stability is another major asset for this profession as job growth is expected to continue through the next decade by at least 20%.

The average annual wage of medical coders or health information technicians was over $31,000 as of May 2008. The middle 50% earned somewhere between $24,000 and $40,000, and the highest 10% earned over $51,000.

Average annual wages in the industries with the largest numbers of medical coders or health information technicians employed as of May 2008 were, the Federal Executive Branch $43,000, General medical and surgical hospitals $33,000, Nursing care facilities $31,000, Outpatient care centers $30,000, and Offices of physicians $27,000.

Currently, the ten states that pay the highest average wages for this occupation are:

  • Mississippi – $56,000
  • New York – $54,000
  • Massachusetts – $53,000
  • Washington DC – $53,000
  • California – $50,000
  • Connecticut – $49,000
  • Georgia – $49,000
  • New Jersey – $48,000
  • Alabama – $48,000
  • Illinois – $48,000


As you can see, a medical billing and coding salary is definitely something to aspire to. Good money can be made and just as importantly, a satisfying and stable career can be had in this profession. One other option not mentioned is, the fact that it is also possible to become a private contractor in this field.

The flexibility of establishing your own business and scheduling your services around your lifestyle and family cannot be discounted. The medical industry is willing to pay a premium for professionals that don’t add to overhead costs. Thus, all you need is the proper credentialing to market your skills and there are a number of sources that can help you there.

A variety of organizations offer credentials based on passing their credentialing exam. Many credentialing programs do require regular re-certification and continuing education in order to maintain a credential. Coding credentials can also require a certain amount of time and coding experience spent in a work setting.

One of the major associations for practitioners is, the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) who offer credentialing as a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT). To obtain the RHIT credential, an aspirant must graduate from a minimum, 2-year associate degree program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) and pass an AHIMA-administered written examination.

As of 2008, there were more than 200 CAHIIM-accredited health information technology academic programs throughout the nation. Additional bodies that offer coding credentials are, the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), the Board of Medical Specialty Coding (BMSC) and the Professional Association of Health care Coding Specialists (PAHCS) who offer credentialing in specialty coding.

A substantial medical billing and coding salary is attainable for those willing to put in the time and effort in academic achievement, and you too can be one of those successful statistics.