It’s never too late to choose a medical coding career. Medical coders are an important part of the U.S. healthcare system, with job openings constantly available in hospitals, clinics, physicians’ offices, medical labs, insurance companies and other third-party healthcare facilities. Medical coding training can prepare you to work in these professional medical/office environments and act as valuable team members to doctors and healthcare professionals.
Your Medical Coding Career
Medical coding training will prepare you for your career as a Certified Professional Coder (CPC). Upon completion of medical coding training, many people choose to take the CPC exam and get certified. Certification as a CPC may increase your chances of being hired and make you more marketable against other potential employees who don’t have certification.
As a Certified Professional Coder, you can add the following qualifications to your medical coding career:
• Knowledge of reading medical charts and assigning the correct diagnoses
• Knowledge of a variety of medical fields
• Knowledge of medical terminology
• ICD-9, CPT, and HCPCS coding
• Coding regulations
• Reimbursement rules and processes
AAPC and AHIMA-Approved Medical Coding Training
No matter where you choose to receive your medical coding training, make sure that your training program puts you on track for certifications from the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) or the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).
Medical coding training for AAPC will prepare you to become a:
• Certified Professional Coder (CPC): Application of CPT, ICD-9, and HCPCS coding
• Hospital Outpatient Certified Professional Coder (CPC-H): Application of CPT and ICD-9 coding skills in outpatient settings and outpatient therapies, including emergency room visits
• Certified Professional Coder and Payer (CPC-P): Processing and analysis of medical claims for payment, often working with third-party providers and a variety of health insurance concepts
Medical coding training for AHIMA will prepare you to become a:
• Certified Coding Associate (CCA): Exhibiting coding competency in any setting, including hospitals and physicians’ offices
• Certified Coding Specialist (CCS): Exhibiting coding competency for both inpatient and outpatient records and a higher level of coding proficiency
• Physician-Based Certified Coding Specialist (CCS-P): Mastery-level of coding proficiency for work in a physician’s office or clinic
Continuation of Medical Coding Training
Once you have chosen to enter a medical coding career, you will learn about the additional opportunities you have to further your medical coding training and education. You can advance or specialize your medical coding career as you see fit.
Depending on your interests in the medical coding field, you may want to pursue specialized medical coding training to work in certain medical settings. Some of the specialized medical coding career paths are cardiology, dermatology, general surgery, hematology and oncology, and rheumatology.
The AAPC offers exams in these specialized fields and encourages coders with “sufficient experience and expertise” in their respective fields to sit for the exams. Additional medical coding training in these specialized fields may also be advantageous in the advancement of your medical coding career.