Steps to Becoming a Medical Billing and Coding Specialist
It takes some planning to establish yourself as a medical billing or coding expert. Here are some steps to get you started.
Take math and science courses in high school. Also take computer science and typing.
Participate in some health education enrichment activities in high school. Your resources may include your local Area Health Education Center (AHEC) and your school’s vocational center.
Research billing and coding programs. There is a wide range of courses, and they last different lengths of time. Make sure your course will prepare you for rigorous certifying examinations by one of the two best known certifying agencies (AHIMA or AAPC). The AAPC recommends an associate degree. Consider the program’s reputation and job placement rate.
You may also enroll in a health information technology program — this will teach you billing and coding plus some additional aspects of health information.
You can begin taking prerequisites either before or after high school graduation. Courses for billing and coding professionals include classes like anatomy and physiology that are common to all allied health professions.
Fulfill admission requirements and enroll in the professional program.
As you move through the professional curriculum, remember that your instructors and supervisors are your future references. Give careful consideration to your externships. These unpaid work experiences do sometimes turn into paid employment later.
Use your professional contacts to get a job. If your externship doesn’t turn into a permanent position, try networking through professional organizations like AHIMA.
A good medical or coding specialist is organized and analytical, capable of mastering a lot of material, and not adverse to repetitive tasks.