What You Earn Depends Upon Where You Work
If you would like to work behind the scenes in an office (or home office) setting, medical billing and coding could be an ideal option. The medical billing and coding career outlook looks bright compared to many other career fields, with growing employment opportunities in a variety of settings including hospitals, insurance and pharmaceutical companies, and skilled nursing facilities.
As a medical coder or biller, you won’t have to engage in direct patient care, but you will still play a vital role in helping to keep healthcare organizations operating smoothly.
According to U.S. News and World Report, medical coding specialist jobs have below-average stress levels and above-average flexibility—an appealing combination for many workers.
Another big perk? Medical coding and billing education programs often don’t take long to complete, and you can earn your education online if you wish. Plus, you may have the opportunity to work from home in the future or even start your own business.
Keep in mind that medical billing and coding are distinct functions, though they share similar skills and can overlap.
Depending on the size of the office, these roles may be completed by two separate individuals or one person. Read on to learn more about the medical billing and medical coding job outlook and salary.
How Much Does Medical Billing and Coding Pay?
A medical billing coding salary range will vary depending on an individual’s education, type of employer, place of residence, certifications, specific job function, and level of experience.
Average Annual Salaries
Average salaries for health information technicians—which includes medical billing and coding specialists—range from $27,820 to $71,150, according to the 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), with the average annual salary for these specialists reported as $46,590.*
Average Annual Salary for Health Information Technicians*
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019
Average Hourly Rate for Medical Billing and Coding
The medical billing and medical coding hourly rate was an average of $22.40 per hour in 2019, according to the BLS. This data is mostly derived from employees who work in physician’s offices, nursing homes, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities
Many people considering a career in medical coding or billing may be interested in starting a home-based business someday. However, if you work for yourself as a contractor charging an hourly rate, you will be responsible for your own self-employment taxes. You may also need to pay for your own benefits, such as health insurance, as well.
If you choose to become self-employed, you may have more autonomy and flexibility, but you will also have to build your own client base to earn a consistent income, so it’s important to weigh the risks and benefits and have a business plan.
Medical Billing and Coding Salaries by State
A medical billing salary and medical coding salary will also vary by location. According to the BLS, states range in their average rates for a medical coding. here are the top five paying states:
Top Five Paying States:
- $59,450 in District of Columbia
- $58,000 in Alaska
- $54,920 in Hawaii
- $54,370 in Massachusetts
- $53,890 in Washington
Where you live is just one component affecting your overall salary. As we’ll discuss next, a variety of other factors can also play a big role in boosting your earning power.
How to Make More Money in Medical Billing and Coding
Want to maximize your potential salary? Take a look at the following factors to see how you can position yourself for a higher salary range for medical billing and coding:
How Do Salaries Compare to Other Allied Health Careers?
Here’s how an average annual medical billing and coding salary measures up to other entry-level positions in allied healthcare, based on data from the BLS:
Job Growth and Future Prospects
The medical billing and coding career outlook holds increasing potential. Employment is expected to grow at a strong rate of 8% through 2029, far outpacing the average for all occupations, which is just 4%, says the BLS.
An aging population could drive the demand for medical billers and coders. Plus, because all types of healthcare providers use electronic health records, medical billers and coders are needed to organize and manage this huge stream of information and help ensure an efficient flow of revenue.
It’s important to note that not all entry-level healthcare jobs have the same positive outlook. For example, employment of medical transcriptionists—who listen to voice recordings of physicians and type them into written reports—is projected to decline due to technologic advances with speech recognition software. In addition, healthcare providers may seek to cut costs by outsourcing these services to other countries.
How to Get into Medical Billing and Coding
Most medical and billing jobs require a postsecondary certificate or a two-year associate’s degree to enter the field. Some programs are offered online, which presents a convenient option if you need to work while going to school, or have a family to look after. A bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration or health information management may qualify you for more career opportunities and management roles in the future.
In addition, many employers prefer to hire staff that have certification or have graduated from an accredited program. Earning one or more certifications can also boost your earning potential.
Two widely recognized organizations that offer certifications are The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) and the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).
*Based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary.