If you are looking for a career in health care that doesn’t involve working directly with patients and that offers exceptional job security, compensation, and other benefits, pursuing an online medical billing degree may be the answer. As the population of the U.S. continues to age, with baby boomers entering their senior years, demand for qualified medical billing and coding specialists will increase continually over the next decade or so.
Obtaining an online degree in medical billing and coding is one of the fastest ways to get your foot in the door in this exciting and rewarding field. It is possible to earn a certificate or diploma that provides entry-level credentials in as little as six months. Because they are conducted online, these degree and certification programs are perfect for busy, working adults who need to juggle other responsibilities while working toward this credential.
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The Benefits of an Online Medical Billing Degree
Earning an online medical billing and coding degree brings many benefits to the table, including:
As a medical billing and coding technician, you will play a crucial role in the daily functioning of the health care facility or organization where you work. Medical billers and coders are responsible for translating medical procedures and supplies into specialized codes that are then used to produce accurate information for billing and insurance purposes, thus such places literally can’t function without them.
Unlike many careers in health care, which require extensive levels of education and training just to begin, you can earn the basic credentials that you need to find work as an entry-level medical billing and coding assistant in as little as six months. Thanks to online degree and certification programs, there is no need to devote time to commuting to and from school every day — and you enjoy a lot more autonomy in terms of how and when you complete assignments, study, and otherwise complete the training.
Great job outlook
The job outlook for medical billing and coding professionals is bright. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, this field is projected to grow by a rate of 13 percent from 2016 to 2026. In 2016, there were approximately 206,000 of these professionals employed in the U.S. By 2026, an additional 28,000 jobs are expected to be added, ensuring that medical billing professionals will continue to enjoy strong demand for the foreseeable future.
In as little as six months, you can earn an online degree in medical billing and coding that will make you eligible for entry-level positions with excellent average pay. According to the BLS, medical records and health information technicians, as medical billing and coding professionals are often known, earned a median salary of $39,180 in 2017, which is equal to around $18.83 per hour — considerably higher than the federal minimum wage. With additional certifications and experience, your earning potential may grow even higher.
With an online degree in medical billing, you will be able to take your pick from jobs spanning a variety of settings and industries. While most professionals in this field work in health care settings like doctor’s offices and hospitals, a considerable number strike out on their own and work as freelance professionals. In that case, you may be able to work remotely, enjoying even more flexibility in your career.
Education Required for a Career in Medical Billing
Most online medical billing and coding degree and certificate programs require students to have high school diplomas or GEDs. Certificate and diploma programs, which typically take anywhere from six to 12 months to complete, are widely available, and most of them are offered online. When looking for such a program, choose one that is accredited by a reputable industry organization. An accreditation from CAHIIM, or the Commission on Accreditation of Health Informatics and Information Management, is something that you should look for to ensure that you receive training that properly prepares you for the field.
To be eligible for the best jobs in medical billing and coding, you are going to want to earn specialty certifications. Most people in the field start out by earning their certifications as Certified Coding Assistants, or CCAs, from the American Health Information Management Association, or AHIMA. After gaining some experience in the field, you may then elect to obtain your Certified Coding Specialist, or CCS, designation by sitting for the certification exam.
Careers in Medical Billing
Examples of the types of careers that people with online medical billing degrees may pursue include:
Medical Records and Health Information Technician
Also known as medical billers, medical coders, or medical billing and coding technicians, these professionals are charged with using standardized codes to translate medical procedures and supplies into medical invoices and insurance claims for accurate processing. According to the BLS, they earned a median salary of $39,180 in 2017. The primary step in entering this career is earning an online degree in medical billing.
Although this field is shrinking rather than growing, it still holds potential for people with experience in medical coding and billing. These professionals make transcriptions from dictations that are made by doctors and other medical professionals for patient charts, notes, and other purposes. According to the BLS, medical transcriptionists earned a median salary of $35,250, or $16.95 per hour, in 2017. Additional certification may be required.
You don’t necessarily have to stay in health care after earning your medical billing degree. This credential will also make you eligible for information clerk positions, which are available across most industries. These professionals handle various office and clerical duties, and they earned a median salary of $33,680, or $16.19 per hour, in 2017. According to the BLS, this field is projected to grow by three percent from 2016 to 2026.
Medical and Health Services Manager
After gaining experience as a medical billing and coding technician, you might elect to return to school to earn your bachelor’s degree in health administration. Doing so would make you eligible for entry-level jobs as a medical and health services manager. Most health care executives and administrators, as they are known, also hold master’s degrees in the field. They earned a median salary of $98,350, or $47.29 per hour, in 2017, and the field is projected to grow by 20 percent over the next decade or so.
Certified Professional Compliance Officer
These professionals examine, evaluate, and investigate conformity with regulations and laws — typically for government agencies, but they work in most industries. You will need a bachelor’s degree from a program that is accredited by CAHIIM, ideally; various specialty certifications; and a decent amount of experience in the field. Compliance officers earned a median salary of $67,870 in 2017, which is equal to around $32.63 per hour.
How to Start Your Career in Medical Billing
Quickly start your career in medical billing by enrolling in an online medical billing and coding degree program. Select one that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Health Informatics and Information Management, or CAHIIM, to ensure that you are properly prepared for the field and for earning specialty certifications later. With a certification as a Certified Professional Coder, a Certified Coding Assistant, or a Certified Coding Specialist, you will be on your way to a rewarding career in no time.