How do I Become a Certified Coder?

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  • Written By: Jodee Redmond
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 January 2019
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To become a certified coder, you need to start by taking a medical billing and coding course. This step will teach you the skills you need to work in a medical office, clinic, hospital, or insurance company. Prospective medical coding students can study in a classroom setting or online to get training they need.

Medical billing involves preparing claim forms, which are submitted to the entity that will pay all or part of the claim on behalf of patients. The forms may be sent to an insurance company, Medicare, or the government for payment. A person who does this kind of work needs to feel comfortable using financial software programs and have an excellent eye for detail. Errors on the claim forms mean delays in payment processing.

A person who works as a medical coder assigns a particular code to services that the doctor provides. Each disorder or injury that is treated has its own code. The medical coder is trained to assign the correct one to each entry so that the health care provider can be paid at the correct rate for the service. This type of work requires a good knowledge of medical terminology so that the coding can be completed accurately.


When you are considering certified coding programs, you want to find out how long the course lasts and what the cost of taking it will be. Be sure to find out whether you need to buy books or materials along with paying your tuition. You also want to consider whether you learn better in a traditional classroom or you want the flexibility to take the course online.

Some schools offer diploma programs for students who want to become a certified coder, while at others you would be studying for two years to get an Associate's degree in this subject area. This is a career choice that will appeal to people who want to work in the medical field, but who like to focus on information. When you sign up for a medical billing and coding course, you can expect to take courses in anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology.

To complete the requirements to become a certified coder, you must pass an exam administered by a medical coding association. In the United States, two years of work experience are required before a person can take the exam to get certification. If a person has less than two years of work experience, they can receive an "apprentice" designation. In that situation, the apprentice coder is required to complete continuing education credits to become a certified coder.



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