Medical Billing and Coding Salary and Job Growth
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 with growing employment opportunities in a variety of settings including hospitals, clinics 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.
- Medical coders translate the diagnosis and treatment a patient receives into numeric codes based on an official classification system. These codes are used by insurance providers to determine coverage and must adhere to federal regulations.
- Medical billers take the assigned codes and submit claims to insurance providers. Medical billers follow up with both the patient and the insurance provider to ensure accurate billing and timely payments.
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 salaries for health information technicians—which includes medical billing and coding specialists—range from $24,810 to $64,610, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Average Salary for Medical Billing and Coding
The BLS reports that health information technicians earned a median salary of $39,180 in 2017.
However, another survey published by the industry organization the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) points to higher average salaries. According to AAPC data, coding and medical billing salaries averaged $46,001 in 2017.
Coding and billing managers earned higher pay rates, at an average of $64,623.
Average Hourly Rate for Medical Billing and Coding
The medical billing and medical coding hourly rate was a median $18.83 per hour in 2017, 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 AAPC, states range in their average rates for a medical coding:
$47,297 in Indiana
$55,657 in Texas
$57,511 in Minnesota
$62,593 in California
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:
- Education: Medical coding and billing salaries differ based on education. Higher degrees typically correspond with higher salaries. According to the AAPC, the average medical coding specialist with a bachelor’s degree earns $54,210 per year, while an average medical coder with no college education earns $49,066 per year.
- Certifications: Obtaining one or more coding certifications or coding credentials can make a significant difference as well. Medical coders who specialize as a Certified Professional Medical Auditor, Certified Physician Practice Manager or have another certification earn an average of more than $60,000 per year.
- Type of employer: Some types of employers also pay more than others. According to the BLS, hospitals pay an average of $42,090 per year, while physician offices pay $34,250 per year. Seeking an employer that offers higher salary ranges can benefit your bottom line.
- Years of experience: Simply building more years of experience can also help increase your income. With an additional year of experience, medical coding salaries can increase between $500 and $3,500, according to AAPC data.
How Do Salaries Compare to Other Allied Health Careers?
Here’s how a median medical billing and coding salary measures up to other entry-level positions in allied healthcare, based on data from the BLS:
- Medical billing and coding: $39,180
- Medical transcriptionists: $35,250
- Medical assisting: $32,480
- Ultrasound techs: $65,620
Job Growth and Future Prospects
The medical billing and coding career outlook holds great potential. Employment is expected to grow at a strong rate of 13 percent from 2016 to 2026, far outpacing the average for all occupations, which is just 7 percent.
An aging population will 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. A bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration or health information management can 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).
Ready to jumpstart your career?
If this role sounds promising to you, don’t hesitate to explore your options and find a program that fits your needs and goals—whether that’s through online medical billing and coding courses or an on-campus degree. Use the “Find Schools” button below to search for programs near you!
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