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How to Become a Certified Medical Biller

What Does a Medical Biller Do?

medical biller at her desk

Medical billers are integral members of the healthcare industry revenue cycle management (RCM) team. A skillful biller helps healthcare facilities, insurance payors, and patients navigate the complexities of the many laws, regulations and guidelines related to the business side of healthcare. In addition to the prospects of playing an important role in the industry, another attractive aspect of the medical billing career path is that it offers challenges and opportunities for advancement without long years of schooling.

Medical billers review hospital and patient records, calculate charges, examine and submit claims, answer patient questions, and manage payments and remittances. Medical billers may concentrate on a single aspect of RCM, such as claims submission, accounts receivable, or customer relations; or they may act as generalists, handling many or all RCM duties.

Workplace Details

Certified medical billers work in an office environment in a variety of clinical and non-clinical settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, physicians’ offices, rehabilitation facilities, insurance companies, and third party billing/consulting services. The federal and state governments also employ a large number of medical billers to handle Medicare and Medicaid claims.

Much of a biller’s time is spent in computer work or telephone communication. Most billers work full time, although job hours are flexible. Some develop their own businesses so that they can work independently from home.

Salary and Job Outlook

State
Average Wage
California
$41240
Texas
$36460
New York
$41520
Florida
$34790
Pennsylvania
$36470

Hover over any state to explore local income and job growth data.

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ALABAMA

Median Salary: 
$30,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $22,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $42,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 260

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Birmingham$25,400$33,400$44,690
Huntsville$21,750$32,490$44,600

ALASKA

Median Salary: 
$41,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $30,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $58,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Anchorage$30,920$40,210$56,370
Fairbanks$23,600$39,750$59,500

ARIZONA

Median Salary: 
$33,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $24,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $46,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 23%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 540

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Phoenix$23,800$34,430$46,940
Tuscon$25,800$32,900$39,250

ARKANSAS

Median Salary: 
$29,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $40,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 150

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Little Rock$25,000$33,060$47,320
Fort Smith$21,200$27,320$36,500

CALIFORNIA

Median Salary: 
$37,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $24,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $57,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 2,240

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Los Angeles$23,280$36,590$55,320
San Francisco Bay$28,840$46,340$63,680
San Diego$24,570$36,100$51,160
Sacramento$25,280$40,540$54,640

COLORADO

Median Salary: 
$38,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $27,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $54,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 30%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 290

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Denver$31,520$40,860$55,540
Colorado Springs$26,660$34,940$47,980

CONNECTICUT

Median Salary: 
$42,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $30,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $60,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 170

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Hartford$31,850$41,620$58,360
Bridgeport$29,970$44,430$60,710
New Haven$28,120$45,230$66,800

DELAWARE

Median Salary: 
$36,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $49,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 11%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 80

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Wilmington$26,280$37,290$52,000
Dover$21,920$32,430$45,120

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Median Salary: 
$51,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $31,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $78,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Washington DC$28,590$42,230$62,640

FLORIDA

Median Salary: 
$33,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $24,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $46,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 26%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,540

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Miami$23,910$34,400$47,600
Orlando$25,220$31,450$46,980
Tampa$25,800$33,010$44,600
Jacksonville$23,700$32,750$43,440

GEORGIA

Median Salary: 
$33,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $23,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $49,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 22%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 590

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Atlanta$25,030$35,400$53,210
Augusta$22,520$29,360$39,530

HAWAII

Median Salary: 
$38,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $26,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $49,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 50

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Honolulu$26,620$38,480$50,540

IDAHO

Median Salary: 
$32,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $23,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $43,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 20%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,120

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Boise$25,600$34,070$44,690
Idaho Falls$21,370$29,320$45,210

ILLINOIS

Median Salary: 
$35,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $51,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 500

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Chicago$26,290$36,920$54,210
Rockford$27,250$37,260$48,920

INDIANA

Median Salary: 
$32,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $23,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $47,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 380

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Indianapolis$25,570$34,530$49,210
South Bend$25,560$34,540$44,370
Fort Wayne$25,580$33,700$45,540

IOWA

Median Salary: 
$34,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $47,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 180

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Des Moines$29,440$38,720$49,080
Cedar Rapids$26,280$33,330$49,810

KANSAS

Median Salary: 
$33,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $23,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $46,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 11%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 190

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Wichita$22,230$30,350$40,190
Kansas City$26,850$36,020$49,060

KENTUCKY

Median Salary: 
$32,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $22,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $45,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 22%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 440

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Louisville$23,960$34,140$46,650
Lexington$25,890$33,740$47,580

LOUISIANA

Median Salary: 
$30,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $22,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $45,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 190

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
New Orleans$24,580$32,370$46,170
Baton Rouge$24,470$34,240$48,680
Lafayette$23,020$30,560$47,850

MAINE

Median Salary: 
$33,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $45,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 7%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 80

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Portland$27,570$36,520$47,610
Lewiston$25,330$31,030$43,980

MARYLAND

Median Salary: 
$37,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $55,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 25%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 340

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Baltimore$26,610$37,800$53,630
Frederick$23,170$38,460$59,580

MASSACHUSETTS

Median Salary: 
$39,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $28,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $57,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 5%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 290

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Boston$30,370$42,080$59,750
Worcester$24,890$36,950$49,490
Springfield$26,170$38,320$55,520

MICHIGAN

Median Salary: 
$34,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $47,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 460

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Detroit$25,470$34,860$47,810
Grand Rapids$26,120$35,250$48,490

MINNESOTA

Median Salary: 
$36,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $27,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $49,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 7%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 290

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Minneapolis - St. Paul$28,390$37,860$51,470
Rochester$27,420$35,680$48,800

MISSISSIPPI

Median Salary: 
$29,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $43,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 11%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 110

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Jackson$22,890$30,350$43,280
Gulfport$19,530$32,400$44,790

MISSOURI

Median Salary: 
$33,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $23,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $47,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 330

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
St. Louis$25,990$35,550$49,570
Kansas City$26,850$36,020$49,060

MONTANA

Median Salary: 
$32,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $24,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $46,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 60

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Billings$27,190$34,960$44,510
Missoula$21,200$30,080$52,020

NEBRASKA

Median Salary: 
$33,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $46,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 110

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Omaha$26,170$34,690$47,720
Lincoln$22,040$32,190$44,020

NEVADA

Median Salary: 
$36,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $24,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $49,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 27%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 150

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Las Vegas$25,430$36,570$49,030
Reno$24,640$36,170$49,390

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Median Salary: 
$36,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $27,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $48,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 60

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Manchester$27,380$36,140$48,040
Nashua$30,640$36,350$46,700

NEW JERSEY

Median Salary: 
$38,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $28,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $54,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 680

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Newark$30,840$39,670$58,630
Trenton$26,960$38,740$49,770

NEW MEXICO

Median Salary: 
$32,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $47,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 11%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 60

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Albuquerque$21,960$33,720$49,670
Las Cruces$20,440$27,030$36,660

NEW YORK

Median Salary: 
$37,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $58,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 20%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 1,370

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
New York City$25,620$39,340$59,720
Buffalo$26,330$34,790$47,800
Rochester$23,150$32,990$48,850
Albany$26,950$36,480$48,850

NORTH CAROLINA

Median Salary: 
$33,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $24,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $47,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 570

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Charlotte$25,870$37,040$51,100
Raleigh$28,830$37,270$49,220
Greensboro$23,590$29,950$43,120
Winston - Salem$25,170$34,650$47,080

NORTH DAKOTA

Median Salary: 
$34,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $24,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $47,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 14%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Fargo$23,950$34,100$49,270
Bismarck$25,520$33,780$45,850

OHIO

Median Salary: 
$34,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $47,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 820

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Cleveland$25,210$35,290$50,080
Columbus$26,010$35,710$48,060
Cincinnati$25,960$36,110$48,090
Dayton$25,630$33,970$48,020

OKLAHOMA

Median Salary: 
$31,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $22,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $47,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 160

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Oklahoma City$24,530$32,510$46,920
Tulsa$22,790$33,960$49,520

OREGON

Median Salary: 
$36,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $26,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $50,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 19%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 250

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Portland$27,360$37,670$53,040
Salem$28,200$37,490$48,270

PENNSYLVANIA

Median Salary: 
$34,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $24,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $50,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 800

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Philadelphia$26,600$37,210$53,900
Pittsburgh$24,480$33,840$47,330
Harrisburg$26,560$35,250$47,800
Allentown$25,970$35,250$50,690

RHODE ISLAND

Median Salary: 
$37,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $27,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $50,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 7%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Providence$27,010$37,250$50,730

SOUTH CAROLINA

Median Salary: 
$31,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $22,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $44,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 14%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 230

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Greenville$23,370$31,500$42,310
Columbia$22,140$31,520$45,880
Charleston$24,590$34,170$47,330

SOUTH DAKOTA

Median Salary: 
$27,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $21,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $37,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Sioux Falls$21,910$28,670$38,670
Rapid City$21,920$28,610$37,540

TENNESSEE

Median Salary: 
$31,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $22,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $45,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 30%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 600

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Nashville$26,350$34,830$48,130
Memphis$23,440$32,800$46,570
Knoxville$21,340$28,800$39,630
Chattanooga$23,620$30,500$42,570

TEXAS

Median Salary: 
$34,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $23,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $48,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 26%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 2,020

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Dallas - Ft. Worth$25,740$35,790$49,730
Houston$26,570$37,160$53,030
San Antonio$24,420$32,120$43,330
Austin$26,220$36,410$50,420

UTAH

Median Salary: 
$32,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $23,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $44,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 35%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 230

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Salt Lake City$25,310$33,700$45,820
Ogden$25,850$33,050$43,390

VERMONT

Median Salary: 
$35,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $47,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 5%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Burlington$26,580$36,060$48,860

VIRGINIA

Median Salary: 
$36,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $25,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $51,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 440

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Virginia Beach$25,480$32,420$45,580
Richmond$25,810$35,950$49,860

WASHINGTON

Median Salary: 
$38,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $26,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $54,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 18%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 460

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Seattle$27,560$40,950$57,470
Spokane$25,480$32,180$45,300

WEST VIRGINIA

Median Salary: 
$28,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $20,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $40,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 3%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 50

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Huntington$20,780$28,370$38,540
Charleston$25,520$36,100$48,470

WISCONSIN

Median Salary: 
$35,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $24,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $48,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 220

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Milwaukee$25,520$36,100$48,470
Madison$31,410$39,920$60,270

WYOMING

Median Salary: 
$34,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $26,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $47,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Cheyenne$25,460$34,230$45,740
Casper$27,960$37,850$49,280

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for a billing clerk in any field is $36,150. As billing clerks working in the healthcare field, certified medical billers can expect to earn a similar amount, although the exact compensation will vary depending on the sector of the healthcare industry and the state.

Billers who work in private doctors’ offices may earn slightly less than those who work in hospitals or medical laboratories. The BLS estimates that the median salary for a biller in a physician’s office is $36,890, while in a hospital the median salary rises to $37,380. Because many employers prefer certified employees, salaries vary significantly between those with and without certification.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment of all billing clerks to increase by 6 percent from 2014 to 2024, which is about average growth. Demand for certified medical billers may even outpace that for billing clerks in other industries, due largely to the aging U.S. population and the fact that the elderly access the healthcare system more frequently than other age groups. If you have an eye for detail; are organized and adaptable; are able to communicate effectively, and have proficient computer skills, a career as a medical biller may be right for you.

Compare Salaries by City

New York City NY Median Pay

$39340 Per Year

$18.91 Per Hour

Los Angeles CA Median Pay

$36590 Per Year

$17.59 Per Hour

Steps to Become a Certified Medical Biller

1

Get your high school diploma.

Medical billing is a robust career field that is technically open to those with a high school diploma or equivalent GED certificate. However, most employers have begun looking only at candidates who have obtained more education either in the form of a certificate program or an associate degree program.

If you are thinking about a career in billing and have not yet graduated from high school, consider courses in math, computers, accounting, speech and business as a solid foundation for your future career.

2

Enroll in a certificate or associate degree program.

Medical billing certificate programs are independent of standard degree programs and may be presented in a classroom or online format. These programs usually take months rather than years to complete. Expect to learn basic medical terminology and diagnosis, procedure, supply, and medicine codes. You will also be introduced to the many and complex laws and regulations governing healthcare business, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Stark Laws, the False Claims Act, and the Fair Debt Collection Act.

Show Me Schools »

Associate degree programs typically require two years of study. When it comes to degrees in medical billing, the programs are not regulated very well and many students fall prey to bad programs, only to find later that they’re ill-prepared to find work. Your best bet for an associate degree is one in health information management; this is two years very well spent, preparing you for medical billing as well as a broader possible spectrum of roles in healthcare. Your expertise would be in high demand.

When selecting programs, whether it’s a certificate or associate degree program, choose those offered by an accredited organization that has a strong history of training medical billers. The program should prepare you to pass one of several available medical billing certification exams.

3

Consider getting certified.

State and federal laws currently do not require certification to enter the field of medical billing; however, applicants who have taken the step to validate their expertise by becoming certified can have a competitive advantage over other job applicants. Several certifying organizations - such as the American Medical Billing Association (AMBA), the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), and the Medical Association of Billers (MAB) - offer preparatory programs for their individual certification exams. Other organizations also offer preparation and certification; make sure the one you choose is widely recognized and reputable.

4

Get some training on the job.

While a medical billing program will prepare you for a new career, you will likely receive quite a bit of additional training on the job. You’ll need to become familiar with laws specific to the state and the industry in which you are working, as well as the differences between the major insurance plans, Medicare, and Medicaid.

5

Keep up to date with continuing education.

Even after passing the certifying exam, you should expect to participate in ongoing continuing education. This may be required to maintain employment or certification status, and is best practice to stay up to date with new regulations and guidelines.

6

Look for opportunities to advance your career.

Advancement opportunities within a healthcare organization include moving into management of personnel or patient accounts. Highly experienced medical billers with a strong work history are in enough demand that some start their own home businesses, giving them ultimate freedom over their schedules. To take advantage of every opportunity in this field, be sure to network with other experienced billers on medical billing forums. Becoming a member of professional associations, such as the AMBA, AAPC, or MAB, will allow you to keep in touch with people in your industry, and give you the inside track on new opportunities in the field.

Explore Educational Paths

Many certified medical billers learn their skills on the job. If you want to go this route, your biggest challenge will be landing a medical office job without experience.

One strategy for landing that first job is to look for a registered apprenticeship. Apprentices get paid to learn while working, and their salary increases with experience. After about a year, you’ll earn a certificate of completion that is recognized by employers across the country.

If you are still in high school, there are many things you can do now to strengthen your resume. Take as many courses as you can in business, office administration, human anatomy, and computer science. Also, try to gain some work experience while you’re still a student. Many high schools and districts have job placement programs.

Finally, in order to be eligible for the more recognized medical billing certifications, you’ll need a high school diploma or equivalent. If you’ve been out of school for a while and haven’t formally graduated, contact your state’s department of education to explore your options.

CERTIFICATE PROGRAM

6 months-1 year

Ramping up your coding skills can help to boost your billing career in several ways.

First, billers who graduate from a certificate program in coding are quite attractive to employers. (In fact, it’s probably more important than being certified in billing.) Earning your coding certificate is one of the best ways to prepare for a coding certification exam — especially if you are new in the field. Improving your coding skills can also be helpful if you plan to pursue medical billing certification.

Second, coding is an extremely important and complex part of your job as a certified medical biller. Investing in some education could speed up your learning curve by months or years, thereby increasing your value to your employer.

Many organizations offer certificate programs in coding, including 2-year colleges, career and technical institutes, and the professional societies AAPC and the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). Many programs offer online learning options, which can be a great option for working professionals.

Show Me Schools »

Before enrolling, make sure the program you’ve chosen is of good quality. AHIMA maintains a list of approved coding certificate programs on its website. Be especially wary of expensive for-profit schools, because they don’t necessarily deliver a better education. If you’re not sure whether a program is reputable, ask a working coder or someone who hires coders.

Certificate programs in coding cover:

Diagnosis coding

Use ICD and CPT codes to classify and describe medical conditions and their contributing factors.

Ambulatory and physician office coding

Practice applying CPT codes to describe procedures and treatments performed by healthcare professionals.

Intro to pharmacology

Learn about common classes of drugs, including their mechanism of action, side effects, and interactions.

Intro to pathophysiology

Study the nature of disease and its impact on body systems.

ASSOCIATE DEGREE

2 years

While an associate degree isn’t required for medical billing certification, it can open other doors in your career. Many employers — particularly the better-paying ones — give hiring priority to candidates with degrees. You’ll also earn college credits that can count toward a bachelor’s degree if you wish to pursue one later.

So what’s the best major for a certified medical biller? Interestingly, an AAS in medical billing and coding can be a risk, because no academic accreditor provides educational oversight in this field. If you do go this route, verify that the program has a good reputation with employers and working coders.

Another option is an AAS in health information management, or HIM. This is a comprehensive degree that covers not only medical billing and coding but also subjects like health records management, data analysis, and informatics.

The Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) accredits HIM programs. You must graduate from an accredited program to be eligible for HIM certification.

When studying medical billing at the associate level, you’ll take subjects like:

Classification systems

Gain a greater understanding of the coding systems currently in use and their impact on reimbursement.

Legal aspects of health information

Study the health record as a legal document covering topics like privacy, releases, and confidential communications.

Health data management

Learn how electronic medical records are maintained, organized, and used in patient care.

Data analytics

Use data mined from patient records to improve care delivery and quality.

A final note: if you enjoy your HIM program, consider earning a bachelor’s or even a master’s degree in the field. They aren’t necessary to work as a certified medical biller, but they can be useful if you want to move into management or teaching.

Keys to Success as a Medical Biller

Necessary Skills and Qualities

Multitasking and organization

Interruptions can occur frequently throughout the day, so a biller must be able to transition easily between tasks and assignments.

Courteous and confident communication

Medical billers commonly interact directly with patients and insurance representatives.

Good ethics

As in all areas of healthcare, billers must be able to maintain strict confidentiality regarding patient services.

Computer savvy and attention to detail

An aptitude for learning software programs and the ability to adapt to new challenges are important skills for medical billers. They must be able to process and apply the many changes that commonly take place with healthcare regulations and billing software.

Additional Credentials

The term “certified medical biller” can refer to someone with national credentials in coding, billing, or HIM.

The most recognized certifications for coders include:

  • Certified Professional Coder (CPC) – AAPC. Candidates must pass an exam and meet minimum experience requirements
  • Certified Coding Associate (CCA) and Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) – AHIMA offers two levels of credentialing. The more advanced CCS has education and experience requirements and is designed for coders with several years of professional experience.
  • This is by no means an exhaustive list. Coders can certify their expertise in specific payment settings (outpatient), skills (rate adjustment), and clinical areas (neurology). There are many organizations offering coding certification, and some are more recognized and reputable than others. Talk to your employer, academic advisor, or mentor about which credentials make sense for you.

Several organizations also offer certification in medical billing. Candidates must generally hold a high school diploma and pass an exam. Again, some of these credentials are better recognized than others, so talk to a mentor in the field about which ones will enhance your resume.

AHIMA offers two levels of certification in HIM. Candidates must earn a degree from an accredited college and pass an exam.

Karen Ewing, CPC, COBGC (AAPC), MT (ASCP)

Karen Ewing is a medical coding specialist working out of Madison, Wisconsin. She holds certifications as a certified professional coder, certified OB/GYN coder, and medical technologist. Karen has earned undergraduate degrees in biology, medical laboratory technology, and health care management.

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